Labor to silence anti-music wowsers with law change

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By Scott Fitzsimons

Originally published: themusic.com.au, July 4 2013, 1:55pm.

The New South Wales Labor party have today called upon the state government to increase the protections of live music venues by stopping councils taking knee-jerk action over complaints by 'wowser' residents.

An extension of the Good Neighbour policy that Labor Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne instigated in his region earlier this year, the announcement was made by Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Luke Foley and Hoodoo Gurus frontman Dave Faulkner in Sydney today.

“We're here today to call on the NSW Government to amend the noise pollution laws,” Foley said, “amend the Protection Of The Environment Operations act to support live music in our city and our state. What we're calling for is mediation over litigation.”

The announcement was the latest in Labor's live music push, which they have been developing since the local government elections last year.

“I'm running an idea up the flagpole today with the [Leichhardt] Mayor and with Dave Faulkner,” Foley said. “I'd like [Liberal Minister For Planing and Infrastructure] Brad Hazzard and the Government to seriously look at what we're proposing here. I make no criticisms of the Government, I'd like to join with Brad Hazzard on a bipartisan basis to change the law.”

Dave Faulkner has found himself at the forefront of the live music discussion after he delivered a recent keynote speech on the matter, and said today that that the suburb he lives in “[is] full of neighbours who are quite well-to-do and they're quite petulant sometimes about hearing music at all.

“They don't mind hearing jackhammers and street noise but if you put on a record and they can hear it wafting with the breeze they thing it's somehow a deliberate assault on their ears.”

He continued, “The way I describe it is if you parked in front of your neighbours' driveway and that found out that that it had been towed to the pound in stead of them knock on your door and asking you to move it.”

During the conference Faulkner rubbished suggestions that he could make a move into politics.

Minister Foley referenced the proposed live music precinct on Parramatta Road, which is a centrepiece for Labor's live music groundswell, but also identified the Surry Hills side of Oxford St in the city and inner-city Newcastle as other potential live music precincts.

Mayor Byrne, who has been dubbed the 'Annandale Mayor', continued to push for the Parramatta Road precinct today.

“We've seen the iconic Annandale Hotel, the Hopetoun Hotel and the Sandringham Hotel all face bankruptcy because councils have been opportunistically pandering to a handful of [complainants]. This reign of the wowsers must come to an end," he said.

"Are we going to revert to being  a boring 1950s-style city where we all go home on a Saturday night to watch an English detective film or are we going to embrace our status as a global city and make Sydney a fun and vibrant and interesting place to live?”

Speaking to theMusic.com.au the Mayor confirmed that he was still hopeful of having the Parramatta live music precinct in place before the end of the year. Minister Hazzard has agreed in principle, he said, and has requested a joint-council proposal for the precinct which is currently being developed.

As it exists in Leichhardt, the Good Neighbour policy which Labor will look to implement into councils state wide addresses the key aspects of the Agent Of Change principle. The policy is designed to give protection and precedence to existing venues over newly-arrived residents and that in the case of a noise complaint, council Cultural and Event Officers must be consulted before action is taken.

In addition, peak music industry bodies and the Office Of Liquor, Gaming And Racing must be consulted prior to legal action. The policy also seeks to establish monthly meetings between live music venues and local residents.

Originally published as: Labor To Silence Anti-Music Wowsers With Law Change