Bluesfest pays more than $90,000 to tribunal ahead of appeal
Bluesfest organisers have had to pay more than $90,000 to a tribunal for holding ahead of its appeal against a January ruling.
Stallholders who had planned to operate at last year's festival have meanwhile called on Bluesfest to drop their NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal appeal.
A group of 11 stallholders, including food and retail vendors, took Bluesfest Services Pty Ltd to NCAT in a bid to have their stallholder fees refunded.
A public health order was issued shortly before the planned 2020 festival, meaning it could not go ahead.
Senior NCAT member Graham Ellis ordered Bluesfest to repay $90,250.45 in January but the festival has since lodged an appeal against that decision.
This followed a hearing which focused on a dispute related to their contracts.
The matter will return to NCAT on April 22 but in the meantime, the stallholders have released a joint statement.
"Every year around 100 stallholders pay Bluesfest - in advance - so we can sell food and
drinks, hats and sunnies to festival goers," they said.
"Some pay $3000, others pay $15,000.
"When COVID killed off Bluesfest 2020 we asked for our money back.
"Bluesfest said no, and that the law was on their side.
"The law disagreed. We sued Bluesfest and won - but we still don't have our money."
They said NCAT had ordered Bluesfest to pay the funds into the court while the appeal was pending, and they have done this.
"Bluesfest fails the Pub Test," the stallholders said.
"They say their contracts with us allow them (to) keep the money, even after the event is called off.
"We say that's not fair and NCAT agreed.
"We want to know if artists at Bluesfest 2021 agree with what Bluesfest have done.
"Are you okay that Bluesfest keeps our money from the 2020 festival that didn't happen?
"Festivals all over Australia paid refunds. But not Bluesfest. Do they think they're special?
"As Bluesfest 2021 approaches, we ask why they can't do the right thing and pay us back?
"We want to know what you think, what artists and the Bluesfest audience thinks.
"We got nothing for our money. Bluesfest should drop its appeal and pay us back now."
Bluesfest's legal representative has been approached for comment.