Mardi Grass Festival
MARDI GRASS FESTIVAL
Mr RIXON (Lismore) [6.28]: In my electorate is the beautiful village of Nimbin, which has about 500 residents. I bring to the attention of the House some reports I received from people concerned about a festival that took place called the Mardi Grass Festival. The first report stated:
This report is in regard to the Mardi Grass Festival held in Nimbin 1-5th May, 1996. The residents of our Township that shopped in Nimbin for Milk, Papers & Bread saw with their own eyes, the disgraceful and untidy mess our Main st, (that is Cullen st), was in for the 5 days.
It was one of many conditions the Lismore City Council had asked the organisers to take care of. The local Tip was left opened for 5 days. The organisers not having to pay to use. We as Ratepayers can only use the Tip on certain days and have to pay to use. Music and the time it was to finish was another condition by Council. Midnight was the cut off time. Every night it went well after Midnight. Saturday night it went all night till 6.30a.m.
No stalls were allowed to be in Cullen St. The Markets were cancelled on Friday. The organisers should have let stall holders know. Instead, we had the rudeness of Stall Holders setting up on Sunday in front of Businesses in Cullen St. It was just a dreadful weekend for Nimbin. Parking was out of control on Saturday and Sunday. Most streets were reduced to one lane. Buses, cars, food vans parked illegally.
Then we had rain and a Church was opened in questionable circumstances for people to sleep because they couldn't get home. 120 or more persons were in the Church on Saturday night. Some Residents in Nimbin were annoyed and made phone calls to Lismore. Thank goodness the Church was closed on Sunday night. Dogs and Alcohol were also at the Church.
Toilets were also a problem. Not enough for the number of People they were expecting. People were urinating in streets. This week-end is only advertising an illegal and prohibited substance. The people this week-end attracts, abuse Drug and Alcohol.
Another report has been received which stated:
Thank goodness the floods & rains kept a good number of people away from Nimbin. This Festival appears to be getting out of hand. The Lantern dancing in the street . . . on Friday & Saturday night was obstructing to Vehicle Traffic, bringing the traffic to a standstill at times. Where is the respect for our Township of Nimbin.
Our objections to this week end are.
* loud music all night for 5 nights.
* people walking streets all night.
* garbage littered streets. Bins overflowing.
* people sleeping in doorways of shops every night.
* not enough toilets in the township.
* people setting stalls up in cullen st, knowing the markets had been cancelled on the Friday.
* camping sites not patrolled and no toilets.
* dogs galore in our township.
* raffle sold, prize $300.00 worth of hemp heads.
* joint rolling competition in nimbin hall.
* hemp cookies sold. People were sick after eating same.
Damage & Petty thefts done to buildings in Nimbin were:
* Over $1000.00 in stolen goods & damage to Kiosk of Nimbin Soccer Club.
* Cover off Organ in Pres Church stolen and front door forced open.
* People were so kindly given blankets to keep warm and same people asking the Laundromat if their blankets could be put in the driers to dry. This was refused because the blankets were wet & dirty.
That was in the war memorial park. The editor of the Northern Star received a number of letters about this. One of the more recent ones stated:
* Van tipped over in main st by a group of people. rope off flag pole . . .
There have been several letters from proponents of Nimbin's Mardi Grass recently claiming what a great event it was, being filled with peace and light and goodwill to all.
There has been a distinct lack of objective observation or criticism from the long-suffering local residents who are constantly confronted by ever-increasing impositions from so-called activists whose only agenda is the selfish promotion of their own personal Nirvana in defiance of reason and public amenity.
That is why I have not given the names of the people who have protested. The letter continued:
The almost deafening silence of the locals is understandable when you have seen how the more radical members of the debate are prepared to target anyone who has the hide to speak out against them for anything from being pilloried in the local media to actual physical violence.
Why was action not taken? I will pass on this information to the Minister for Police and the Minister for Local Government indicating that I have received comments from many people. They wished to protest but did not want their names used for fear of retribution. Their sentiments were always the same. What can be done by police authorities, local government authorities and others to control the festival and ensure civilised behaviour is maintained? While most responsible people would prefer to see the festival not happen at all, they agree that if it has to happen it should be moved out of the Nimbin streets onto private property away from town. I will be bringing this to the attention of the Minister for Local Government in the near future. [Time expired.]
Mr E. T. PAGE (Coogee - Minister for Local Government) [6.33]: I will have the matters raised by the honourable member investigated to see if something can be done to overcome the problems.
As the organisers originally expected 8000 people to attend over the week of festivities it is somewhat puzzling . . .