Australia: ‘High Risk’ Festivals Fight Back, Ultra Australia Returns

Five Festivals Taking Action Against ‘Higher Risk’ List
On the March 1 launch of new strict license for 14 festivals deemed “higher risk” by the New South Wales (NSW) government, five operators confirmed they are taking legal action against authorities. Days Like This, Division Agency, Novel, Lost Paradise and Finely Tuned slammed a “flawed” and “a knee-jerk reaction” to drug deaths. 
Jason Ayoubi of Days Like This, said, “There was a real opportunity here for the NSW government to consult with an industry that generates over A$1.8 billion ($1.27b) a year in revenue to come up with ways we could potentially improve safety at festivals and instead they have chosen to vilify 14 individual festivals without any discussion.”  On March 1, Live Performance Australia, Music NSW and the Australian Festival Association jointly accused the government of “absolutely no respect for the music and festival industry.” They added, “With a state election looming (on March 23) and a rush for media headlines, (it) has ignored repeated requests to consult properly with our sector. 
The government contended the new license is to help operators dealing with “the evolving challenge of illegal drug use at their festivals” and will continue to work with them “to ensure they have appropriate safety arrangements in place.” On February 27, NSW deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame confirmed that the inquest into the deaths of five people at festivals will begin July 8 for a two week period.

Ultra Australia Set To Return For Second Year
The first edition of Ultra Australia drew over 40,000 to Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse (February 23) and Sydney’s Parramatta Park (24), and has confirmed a 2020 return. Headliners were The Chainsmokers, Marshmello and  Martin Garrix. There’s no indication if the second edition will expand to a third city. Ultra tested the Aussie market 2018 with a smaller Road To Ultra in Melbourne.
Kylie Minogue makes unscheduled stop at Mardi GrasKylie Minogue, in Sydney for her national Golden tour, made a brief unexpected appearance at the 41st Sydney Mardi Gras parade March 2. Police put the crowd size at 500,000, to view 200 floats, one of which a Kylie tribute. The singer was accompanied by her dancers sporting gold cowboy hats along with drag queen Courtney Act and Kylie impersonators. Sydney Mardi Gras is bidding to host World Pride for 2023, after it stages in NYC in July and Copenhagen in 2021.
Veteran Nightclub Owner John Hannay Dies At 74
John Hannay, colorful veteran Brisbane nightclub manager, passed away at 74 after a long illness. In the early ‘70s Hannay had a band he was managing kidnapped for publicity and was accused of complicity – never proven – in the March 1973 firebombing of the Whiskey Au Go Go which resulting in the deaths of 15 patrons and two people jailed. However staff of his venues in the past 25 years, including the Roxy, Spring Hill Hotel and LGBQT safe haven The Beat Nightclub, took to social media to dismiss unproven allegations and stress how “he treated us staff like family and gave the queer community love and respect.”
Kim Dotcom Sued Over Carpet
While tech identity Kim Dotcom battles extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges, he’s being sued in the Auckland District Court for NZ $200,000 and $300,000 (US$135, 956 to $203, 931) by the landlords of a $4 million ($3.71 million) waterfront penthouse he rented in Auckland. 
The NZ Herald reported that the controversial entrepreneur replaced white carpet with black, installed astro turf on the decks and altered walls to carry his communications and media equipment. The landlord, Old Church Limited, had agreed he could make the changes but on the condition he would buy the property. But Dotcom moved to Queenstown in April 2018. No hearing date is listed for the civil action but the case whether the US application for his extradition is legal returns to a New Zealand court in June.