Victoria Police is under fire for billing the south-west’s biggest community-run festival to provide extra resources.
Port Fairy Folk Festival has been hit with a $6000 bill, which was reduced to $4600, for providing police officers in the event arena, Western Victoria MP James Purcell says.
Mr Purcell is calling on Police Minister Lisa Neville to have the charges waived.
“It is a volunteer-run festival and it has been running for more than 40 years. For the last two decades it has actually given about $4 million to the community and also $3 million to volunteer groups and organisations,” Mr Purcell told Parliament.
“Additional police are allocated to the event each year, but any charges for the extra police have usually been waived.
“It is an event that really does not incur much; I have never even seen a cross word, so it is not one that is heavily policed.”
A Victoria Police spokesperson said it provided a “significant policing commitment” to the Folkie to ensure the safety and security of attendees, the broader community and to deter and respond to any public order issues.
“As per the Victoria Police (fees and charges) Regulations 2014, Victoria Police has the right to charge any event organiser for the use of police resources,” the spokesperson said.
“Victoria Police does not disclose the cost of engaging our services, or the private discussions held as part of the arrangements. However, any charges associated with the Port Fairy Folk Festival ensure parity and consistency with like events across Victoria.”
Under the regulations, Victoria Police can bill organisers for events where admission fees are charged; if the event is commercial in nature; or the event is commercially promoted or sponsored.