By Jeremy Sollars
Southern Downs councillors will vote next week on a request by the organisers of a bush music and arts festival to overturn the council’s refusal of a ‘temporary entertainment event’ permit for the event.
The promoters of the ‘Bohemian Beatfreaks’ festival – proposed to be held at Cherrabah Homestead Resort at Elbow Valley east of Warwick in November – have written to the council’s chief executive officer David Keenan asking that councillors reconsider the refusal, which was issued by council officers in July.
The same promoters staged a similar festival – ‘Rabbits Eat Lettuce’ – at Cherrabah in April of this year, after moving it from Casino after New South Wales Police refused to issue an approval on safety grounds.
Two people aged in their 20s died during the April event of non-suspicious causes, believed to be drug-related, and a 37 year old man at the event went missing for more than a fortnight, prompting a major search and rescue operation locally before he resurfaced in the Bunya Mountains area.
On July 24 the Southern Downs Regional Council refused a permit for November’s planned ‘Bohemian Beatfreaks’ on the back of a formal objection to the event by the Queensland Police.
The refusal notice stated council officers could not be satisfied that the “proposed operation and management of the (event) is adequate to protect public health, safety and amenity and prevent environmental harm”.
Rabbits Eat Lettuce – REL Events Pty Ltd – director Erik Lamir has since written to the council asking councillors to overturn the permit refusal and to “apply natural justice and not be swayed by emotional politics or unfounded bias and make a decision based on merits”.
Mr Lamir states in his letter that ‘Bohemian Beatfreaks’ and other Rabbits Eat Lettuce festivals are “run to the highest possible standard” and “provide over and above the required resources – medical, security, fire, sanitary – to ensure we provide a safe environment and protect public health”.
Mr Lamir also points out in his letter that ‘Rabbits Eat Lettuce’ in April and another similar event at Cherrabah within the last 12 months brought “approximately 7000 new visitors to the Warwick region from around the country” and that as an event company it has to date “brought approximately $1,796,000 into the Warwick local economy in the 2019 tax year”.
Councillors are due to vote on Mr Lamir’s request to overturn refusal of the ‘Bohemian Beatfreaks’ permit at their August general meeting in Warwick next Wednesday 28 August.