Labor promises to make revitalising music industry an election policy

ROCKING: Newcastle music industry stakeholders say local venues are under threat from rising development. Picture: Paul Dear
ROCKING: Newcastle music industry stakeholders say local venues are under threat from rising development. Picture: Paul Dear

NEWCASTLE MP Tim Crakanthorp said Labor would carry policy aimed at protecting and revitalising the NSW live music industry into next year’s state election.

The pledge was made on Thursday as the sixth round of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Music and Arts Economy in NSW was held at Newcastle City Council.   

Since March the inquiry - chaired by Christian Democrat Paul Green and featuring members of the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties - have toured Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne and Byron Bay taking submissions from stakeholders about the state of the live music industry.

Members of Newcastle’s music community are increasingly concerned that the city’s rapid redevelopment, particularly high-rise residential apartments, will force the closure of venues due to noise complaints.

Many like veteran Newcastle musician Grant Walmsley and Mr Crakanthorp hope changes to planning laws would help safeguard live music by forcing developers to install soundproofing measures in new properties.

The Victorian Government introduced similar laws in 2014 known as “agent of change” and Melbourne is undoubtedly Australia’s most vibrant live music city. 

Mr Crakanthorp said his motion to address planning laws was endorsed at the last Labor state conference.

“The inquiry will make recommendations and I hope this government takes them into consideration and puts forward some laws to change the law as it stands,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

“Certainly Labor will go forward to the next election with legislative changes to make it thrive, not just survive, in this state.”

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Mr Walmsley, venue operators Brian Lizotte (Lizotte’s) and Ian Lobb (Lass O’Gowrie Hotel), promoter Marcus Wright and musicians Spencer Scott and Tony Petersen all addressed the inquiry.

Mr Walmsley said hosting the inquiry in Newcastle was a positive step, but he hoped it translated into legislative change.

“We’re in ICU at the moment,” the Screaming Jets founder said. “Music is in a critical condition. 

“The big four venues in town, being the Cambridge, the Wicko, Lass and Lizotte’s, are hanging in the balance with this unbridled property development.”

Lizotte’s owner Brian Lizotte said his Lambton theatre venue, which focuses on combining dining and live music, was not threatened at present by the development boom centred in inner-city suburbs.

However, he hoped the state government would increase investment for the arts to assist venues.   

The parliamentary inquiry is expected to finalise its report and make a recommendation to the state government by early next year.