Police withdrew support of the bush festival last year, claiming it was unsafe.
Police withdrew support of the bush festival last year, claiming it was unsafe.

Police win court appeal against Rabbits Eat Lettuce

POLICE have won an appeal against a court decision that favoured a Northern Rivers bush festival.

Rabbits Eat Lettuce Pty Ltd took the NSW Commissioner of Police to the Land and Environment Court after the authorities withdrew support of the Bohemian Beatfreaks festival, which had until then been held at a Kippenduff property, south of Casino.

Police had advised organisers this was on the basis of a host of safety concerns.

The event was found to be safe, pending some conditions, at the 11th hour last November, but organisers had already moved the event to another venue in Elbow Valley near Warwick, on Queensland's Southern Downs.

The event had been subject to a development consent condition, which required them to undertake "ongoing liaison with emergency services to oversee the performance of the event” and to be available to meet with the Local Emergency Management Committee to review the event plan if requested.

The condition also stated: "an event must not proceed if either NSW Police, NSW Rural Fire Service or Richmond Valley Council advises it is unsafe to do so”.

The Commissioner of Police appealed the 2018 decision in organisers' favour on several grounds, including that the LEC "lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter” and that the decision was made "on an error of law”.

The Supreme Court of Appeal last month set aside the 2018 decision that the event was safe to proceed, subject to conditions, and upheld the second appeal, brought by police.

Since the withdrawal of police support, the group's Easter event, Rabbit Eat Lettuce, has also been held at the Cherrabah Resort near Warwick.

Two people died at the festival in April this year.



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