Music Festivals “Gobsmacked” As Queensland Shifts Public Holiday Dates

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Music Festivals “Gobsmacked” As Queensland Shifts Public Holiday Dates

Organising a music festival is no easy task. From the start-ups that fall over before they even get going (most recently, the Kangaroo Island Surf and Music Festival) to even the most experienced event organisers having their teething problems – the issues at Melbourne’s inaugural Harvest festival launch last year for instance.

So it doesn’t help matters when state government’s begin to inadvertently make things more difficult for festival organisers.

The Townsville Bulletin reports that the Queensland Government recently passed a decision to the dates for its Labour Day long weekend from May to October, severely affecting several music festivals that are typically organised around the public holiday.

While the Queen’s Birthday holiday, which was also proposed for a calendar shift, will remain in June, the Labour Day holiday will now be the first Monday in October.

The teams behind several North Queensland festivals have criticised the move, including Groovin’ The Moo, which has been held on the Sunday of the long weekend for the past five years.

Promoter Steve Haplin said the decision was “a bit of a bummer”, but chiefly had been made at late notice for people organising their music events for 2013.

Haplin and his team had already “built the whole tour around that weekend being a long weekend,” having already locked in dates for Groovin’ The Moo 2013.

“We have been working with the tourism operators to encourage people to travel to Townsville and stay for the long weekend – it’s part of our marketing strategy,” said Haplin. He hopes that people will support the music festival regardless, suggesting many festival-goers will take the Monday off regardless.

Lyn Verra, secretary for the Charters Towers Country Music Festival said that her event committee was shocked by the QLD government’s decision, saying it would have a significant impact on the festival’s success and revenue.

“If we don’t have a holiday on the Monday, the contestants might not be able to get here,” said Verra. “We have volunteers who come in on the Monday and help us clear up – I’m just gobsmacked and shocked. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the move in Labour Day dates would bring the state in line with its fellow states and that the decision was favourable to the majority of people.

“It is simply changing the time of the year in which Labour Day is observed,” said Bleijie. “This change should also result in little, if any, additional costs to business in relation to penalty rates or paid days off as the number of public holidays per year has not increased.”


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