Festival safety must come first, but not at the last minute

IT defies any sense of good procedure that a little more than one week out from the Rainbow Serpent festival near Lexton that wrangling over permits continues between Pyrenees Shire Council and organisers of the event.

The death of 34-year-old Epping man Daniel Buccianti, who died of drug-related causes at last year’s event, has heightened awareness of the need for the festival to have improved security and safety measures.

While The Courier is not privy to all details regarding these particular issues, it is difficult to comprehend why there remains such a significant gap between organisers and authorities as to whether the event should go ahead.

There are  some stark realities in this on both sides of the ledger.

For the organisers, given the negative exposure created by last year’s tragic incident, it must have known that there would be increased scrutiny.

They claim to have taken considerable steps to make the event safer. Yet it hasn’t been enough to convince authorities.

The shire will undoubtedly come off looking like the bad guys if the festival does not go ahead.

Businesses in Lexton and Beaufort stand to lose out financially as festival-goers generate income for goods and service-focused businesses in the township.

Just as the highly successful Meredith Music Festival is a one-off boom for its township, the Rainbow Serpent festival provides a similar holiday spike in the Pyrenees.

The shire, though, has a greater responsibility. Questions will be asked about how proactive it has been in discussing potential issues with the organisers before this late stage.

What must be remembered in this debate is that no matter how many safeguards are put in place, music festivals are often home to misadventure provoked by individual choices.

The Rainbow Serpent festival is not unique is this aspect.

It would be best for all parties involved that the event go ahead. Thousands of tickets have already been sold and considerable time and effort has been invested in preparing the associated logistics.

But all precautions must be taken to ensure it is safe. The festival cannot afford a reoccurrence of last year.

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