A MURRAY River music festival could be the first in NSW subject to a new state law which would see drug dealers responsible for any deaths they cause.
The 10th anniversary edition of Tocumwal’s Strawberry Fields Festival will be held from November 16 to 18.
Legislation flagged by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week is due to be introduced into parliament in the week leading up to Strawberry Fields.
It would strengthen laws targeting drug suppliers and make it legal for drug dealers to be responsible for fatalities caused by their actions.
If the law is not passed in the days before the festival, it is expected to be enacted the following week to cover the looming summer festival season.
Music festivals are a significant part of NSW's entertainment scene. But we owe it to young people and their families to make sure they are safe. The NSW Government will improve safety at festivals by implementing the recommendations of an expert panel: https://t.co/eGi2veIxJ2. pic.twitter.com/16yvhppIXI— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) October 23, 2018
On-the-spot fines for drug possession at music festivals, another move backed this week by the Premier, will not apply at Strawberry Fields.
Strawberry Fields co-director Tara Benney declined to comment on the government’s moves which follow a report by an expert panel appointed after the deaths of two people at a music festival in September.
Strawberry Fields’ website warns against wrongdoing.
“If you try to bring illicit substances into Strawberry Fields, you will be searched and will face the consequences,” it states.
“Don't do something illegal that could both ruin your weekend, and jeopardise the future of Strawberry Fields.”
Meanwhile, Ms Berejiklian’s Coalition colleague, the Nationals member for Murray, Austin Evans, has welcomed an exhibition saluting the festival’s decade.
The retrospective is being staged at Tocumwal’s War Memorial Hall for the next two Saturdays before being taken to the festival site.
It features a cardboard video dome and stands designed by Monash University architecture students and photographs from Duncographic and Zeazy.
“To combine the photos of all the history and the years of the Strawberry Fields with the architecture students with all their cardboard constructions is really good,” Mr Evans said after the opening last weekend.
The 10th anniversary will also include a free community concert on the Tocumwal foreshore on the Wednesday before the festival weekend with acts The Rookies, Amaru Tribe and Tall Paul.