Why would coun­cil ap­prove this fes­ti­val?

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Dear Ed­i­tor, There are a lot of ques­tions that need an­swers about Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil’s re­cent ap­proval of the Straw­berry Fields Fes­ti­val to be held Novem­ber 2017.

In an ar­ti­cle in the SRN July 5, it was re­vealed fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers had al­ready en­gaged lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional bands and were sell­ing tick­ets re­gard­less of the need to have a DA sub­mit­ted and ap­proved with con­sent of coun­cil be­fore be­ing able legally to pro­ceed.

Why did they have con­fi­dence to do this when fi­nal coun­cil con­sent was only re­ceived Oc­to­ber 4?

Another puz­zling point is how some coun­cil­lors could be so lack­ing in knowl­edge of the true facts con­cern­ing drug use at pre­vi­ous fes­ti­vals.

This was ev­i­denced by com­ments at­trib­uted to Cr Bruce and Cr Bodey that were made at the coun­cil meet­ing, when vot­ing for the ap­proval of the fes­ti­val and at other times.

A com­ment by Cr Bodey that the per­cep­tion of rife drug use at the fes­ti­val was un­founded re­veals how short on true facts some of our coun­cil­lors are.

Here are some of the facts: A re­port in the Bor­der Mail (Novem­ber 20, 2016) ‘Dozens charged with drug of­fences af­ter po­lice crack­down at Straw­berry Fields Fes­ti­val’.

Facts re­vealed by Vic­to­rian po­lice (in the Co­bram Courier, ‘ More than 100 drug of­fences at Straw­berry Fes­ti­val, Novem­ber 30, 2016) show more than 100 peo­ple pro­cessed for drug re­lated of­fences.

Po­lice de­tected 45 peo­ple in pos­ses­sion of drugs, 72 driv­ers with drugs in their sys­tem. In NSW the re­sults were sim­i­lar.

At the pre­vi­ous fes­ti­val, it was re­ported (in The Age) po­lice caught more than 200 peo­ple with LSD, magic mush­rooms, cannabis, ke­tamine, ec­stasy, pre­scrip­tion pills and MDMA tablets.

Car searches re­sulted in peo­ple charged with sup­ply and pos­ses­sion of pro­hib­ited drugs in­clud­ing ec­stasy tablets, cannabis and methy­lam­phetamine.

A fur­ther ques­tion to con­sider, if drug use is not re­ally an is­sue, why do fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers think it nec­es­sary to have a 24 hour med­i­cal fa­cil­ity manned by doc­tors and nurses?

Why the de­mand for a law firm’s pres­ence at the fes­ti­val? An ar­ti­cle in The Age on Novem­ber 15, 2016 said ‘ De­mand is mush­room­ing for le­gal firm to set up its stall at fes­ti­val’.

‘‘What we are hop­ing to achieve is to pro­vide pre­ventable le­gal ad­vice for peo­ple so they are not com­ing into con­tact with po­lice and are not hav­ing this neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ a so­lic­i­tor was quoted as say­ing.

A man is cur­rently in prison as a re­sult of a fa­tal crash in Novem­ber 2015. The ac­ci­dent hap­pened as two men were re­turn­ing home from the fes­ti­val.

The driver was al­legedly found to have methy­lam­phetamine and ec­stasy in his sys­tem.

Shep­par­ton News re­port­ing on the ac­ci­dent quoted In­spec­tor Paul Con­don of De­niliquin say­ing ‘‘The road death was the tragic fi­nal act from a litany of of­fences de­tected dur­ing the fes­ti­val’’.

Po­lice had spo­ken to Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil be­fore the fes­ti­val, ask­ing it re­voke per­mis­sion for Straw­berry Fields to be held.

‘‘Once again we ap­proached the Ber­ri­gan Shire and once again we were ig­nored,’’ Supt Con­don said at the time.

Th­ese sen­ti­ments were again ex­pressed very re­cently by De­niliquin Po­lice Lo­cal Area Com­mand.

In­spec­tor John Aichinger said, ‘‘The LAC takes the po­si­tion that hold­ing of this event is not in the in­ter­est of pub­lic safety’’.

In a let­ter handed per­son­ally to the Mayor, signed by six church lead­ers rep­re­sent­ing the Tocumwal, Ber­ri­gan and Fin­ley com­mu­ni­ties, the point was made that the fi­nan­cial gain that may come to some is in­signif­i­cant when com­pared to the hu­man suf­fer­ing and fi­nan­cial bur­den to the peo­ple of New South Wales in gen­eral.

Yours etc. John Ever­ing­ham Fin­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.