Singer Lisa Hunt
Singer Lisa Hunt

Music event series draws thousands in fines

A Byron-based musician has accused police of an unfair approach after her event series attracted a $5000 fine for alleged COVID-19 breaches at a concert.

Lisa Hunt announced plans for Summerstage Byron Bay in December last year and despite delays – the development application wasn’t approved in time for her first planned events.

The first two instalments went ahead on January 9 and 10.

“We did two shows,” Ms Hunt said.

“And we’re doing four more.”

She said the person managing the site on January 9 was “asking the two user-pays police all day if everything was okay”.

“They kept checking in with them,” she said.

“And then at some point the licensing police came … and apparently started (identifying) breaches because people were standing up.

“Some people were dancing.”

Ms Hunt said there was no formal dancefloor because it was not permitted.

“We have to pay $3700 to have two policemen there no matter how small the crowd is, no matter how much it decimates the budget,” she said.

“It’s just a small community event.

“It feels like some Mafia cr--.

“I find the main thing that p----d me off about the whole thing was that I’d done the theatre, I’d been to funerals, been in restaurants and went to the movies and if they’re going to be sticklers about being 100 per cent compliant on everything … everything would be shut down.

“It’s just the reality of life is that everyone is not 100 per cent compliant.

“They had (Bangalow) Eat Street with 5000 people and that’s okay.”

She said it felt authorities were “just waiting to pounce”.

Ms Hunt said she was exploring her options about how to approach the infringement.

Tweed Byron Police District crime manager, Detective Chief Inspector Brendon Cullen confirmed officers attended the event shortly after 7.30pm on January 9.

“Upon arrival, officers observed several alleged breaches of the Public Health Order, including groups standing and dancing and patrons not being appropriately socially distanced,” he said.

“Police also observed an alleged breach in the event’s limited liquor licence, with the absence of an RSA Marshall at each bar service area.

“Officers spoke with event management and the event licensee at the event and acknowledged the breaches of both the Public Health Order and the Limited Liquor Licence.”

Detective Cullen said officers returned the next day and found the breaches had been rectified, with security “asking patrons to remain seated and socially distanced”.

He said a 36-year-old male licensee was given an infringement notice for failing to comply with licence conditions.

After further inquiries, police issued Ms Hunt with the fine for failing to comply with a noticed direction in relation to COVID-19 public health orders.

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