In what seems to be an enormous bureaucratic clusterfuck, one of Australia’s biggest bush-doofs, Maitreya festival, is in danger of being cancelled after failing to obtain the necessary permit from Buloke Shire Council.
The psy-trance/techno doof, which attracted approximately 10,000 people in 2015, is due to celebrate its tenth year next month at Wooroonook Lakes in Charlton, Victoria.
The local council said that it was disappointed with having to deny the permit, but, despite repeated requests, “necessary information,” including planning permits, emergency and traffic plans and liquor licensing approval has not been provided by festival organizers.
However Maitreya organizer Lachlan Bell insists that the information was provided.
“Its been ridiculous...some documents that were submitted in September wernt reffered [sic] to Parks and Vic Roads till January 5th....disaster,” he commented in a Facebook group called ‘Save Maitreya Festival 2016 - Let's keep it at Wooroonook Lakes, Charlton.’
Yesterday afternoon, police were called to the festival site to block the promoters from unloading gear, while messages being sent from the festival's Facebook page suggesting the event would 100 per cent go ahead have been branded as false by the council
Local businesses in the area have expressed concerns over the economic devastation that could result from the event’s cancellation. With the shire being hit by a second straight year of drought, losing the economic boost from the festival has the potential to put some premises out of business.
Charlton real estate agent Allan Getley said he understood council's reasons for declining the permit, but like many residents was disappointed it had "pulled the plug" on the event so quickly.
"We are working very hard to see how we can have this decision reversed," said Mr Getley, who is chairman of the Charlton Forum which acts as a liaison between council and ratepayers.
"The economic benefits to Charlton and greater Buloke Shire are far too good for it to not go ahead.
"We've had tough times out here and the money this sort of festival can bring into the community in such a short period of time is phenomenal."
"You look at our local butchers here, we - the forum - run a barbecue on site with all funds going to the local community and sporting groups," he said.
"We have one tonne of meat ordered - that is obviously a considerable order. I have an order for over 400 kilograms of bacon from the local supermarket to feed them for breakfast and 9000 eggs from a local supplier."
"These won't go ahead if the festival doesn't happen.
"It's a major economic event and we all need to get to the (negotiating) table and find a way forward.”
Maitreya festival faithfuls are equally alarmed by the news that the famous doof might not go ahead. A Facebook group dedicated to saving the festival has close to 2000 members since it was created yesterday and a petition has attracted about 250 signatures, while the festival awaits a decision on their fate.
This is not the first time Maitreya has run into problems with local councils. Central Goldfields Shire turned its back on the event in 2013 after organisers failed to apply for the appropriate permits.
Much criticism was aimed at the festival last year, after the lakeside location was left in a shocking state, with endless amount of old couches, ripped tents, piles of rubbish and other festival paraphernalia littering the site.
At the time of writing, tickets are still available from Maitreya’s website and festival organisers remain hopeful.