I’ve got a scoop, and exclusive – very exciting for your budding columnist. Is it the internal real-life Splendour safety/media reaction plan prepared just prior to the festival?
Safety Plan, final version three, June 1, 2022.
The essence of the Plan is that there is to be no rain. Because if there is, it will be a big safety issue, because the volunteers will leave, the water table will make the entire scene a lake, the traffic will bank up and the highway will be blocked.
Our main stage areas will be knee deep in mud.
Customers will be on the road waiting to park/camp for up to 15 hours, their cars will run out of fuel, and eventually they will have to sleep in their cars.
And shit in the street. And be hungry and tired. And walk on unlit roads.
And we may have to make them camp at the Bluesfest site. Which draws attention to better flood rain mitigation works that are possible if you spend the money.
And then people might ask why we have North Byron as a festival site at all.
So, there must be no rain, which is why it is prohibited.
In terms of PR and reputation mitigation, if it does rain, there are some preferred terms – unprecedented, torrential, ‘rain event’, and un-forecast.
There are also terms to be avoided – predicted, normal, expected and unexceptional. Continue to stress our main message – patron safety always comes first.
Who can argue that we are responsible for acts of God?
Under no circumstances are police to be diverted from their main task.
They must not become involved in life-saving traffic management or crowd management or anything else that could make the festival work better.
They have one job and one job only. Drug detection.
Because if they do not do that, then the customers will use more drugs and buy less alcohol.
Keep on message – drugs are bad, alcohol is good.
In terms of ticket holders, under no circumstances must all ticket holders actually come to the festival.
If they do, we will not have enough buses to transport them to and from the designated drop off points and there will be queues for up to eight hours to get them home or back to their cars.
We only have enough toilets for half of them anyway.
They have prepaid tickets, and so with a bit of luck, covid, or airport strife, or high petrol prices will act as a deterrent.
In any event, it is forbidden for all of them to actually come to the festival.
This is an integral part of the planning.
If they all actually came, and it rained… well that would be a disaster.
If that does happen, the key message is to blame others. Like bus companies or the weather (see above).
Tell people to chill and to be nice to each other. Stress that safety is our first priority.
Our covid plan has key exceptions – water vessels in queues are to be delivered en masse – sharing is to be encouraged.
Covid outbreaks are beyond our control, like the weather (see above).
We have banned pick-up and drop-off completely from the (extremely) North Byron Parklands this year, so, with no buses it is easier for people to actually walk to Yelgun rest area in the dark on unlit roads with gumboots on.
So, in terms of safety plan, let’s make a big ‘hoo ha’ about not walking on the roads even though we can be sure some will give up waiting for the buses (see above) and try to walk, because if they do get killed we can deny any responsibility because we put safety first by warning them in the first place.
Just before the festival is about to commence, and after tickets, accommodation and transport have been paid for by everyone – the ground rules are changed to make it harder for under 18s to come to the festival, thus freeing up some car parks in case it rains (see above).
Do not blame the drug testing police.
Plead prior ignorance.
Tell them we are sacking our lawyers.
That is the key to this entire Safety Plan and PR interface – blame the lawyers or bus companies or the weather Gods.
Stress that we put safety first.
There have been some wild suggestions that if it rains, and if there is mud, and if there are not enough toilets or water and queues are shared, that this could even worsen a meningococcal outbreak.
What nonsense! Since when has a festival been so badly organised that this is even a possibility. Ha!
Former magistrate David Heilpern was recently appointed Dean of Law at Southern Cross University.