The Murwillumbah Banana Festival's street parade has been cancelled due to anti-terrorism laws.
The Murwillumbah Banana Festival's street parade has been cancelled due to anti-terrorism laws. Nikki Todd

Terror laws see Tweed signature event cancelled

ORGANISERS of the Murwillumbah Banana Festival have had to cancel its signature event due to the cost of new anti-terror laws.

Festival organiser Carol Mudge said she was told by police the 64-year-old event would need to implement "hostile vehicle mitigation measures" to prevent a potential terrorist crashing into spectators during the festival's street parade.

But Ms Mudge said the $10,000 cost to meet the anti-terror requirements had forced them to cancel the event.

"This year we are not running a street parade due to the expensive costs, we would need at least 40 volunteers with two on every street closure, we just don't have the manpower," she said.

"Now when you run festivals and block off the streets you have to be wary of anti-terrorism rules, we would have needed security guards, cement barricades put up, the cost was blowing out to $10,000 just to run the street parade.

"I think that it's frightening that in Murwillumbah we have to be treated the same as Sydney, I can't see a terrorist threat here or even a threat from someone with a mental impairment or a gun, I can't see that threat because I refuse to live in that world.

"But the powers that be have to live in that world, no matter where you live now, the people there to protect us have to treat Murwillumbah the same as the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, there could be a threat so we must be prepared for it."

 

Participants in this year's Banana Festival parade, 25 Aug 2018
The Banana Festival's street parade in 2018. Nikki Todd

Ms Mudge said despite the street event being cancelled, a parade would still take place at the Murwillumbah Showgrounds.

She said the current festival organisers were retiring at the end of this year but believed a new committee with "fresh ideas" would ensure the event continued.

Phil Taylor, who's father Bill was one of the founders of the Murwillumbah Banana Festival, said it was sad the street festival had to be cancelled but was understanding of the reason why.

"New Zealand never thought they would be hit with a massacre at a church, it was the last place in the world you'd think it would happen, but you never know when these sick minds will come out so you have to eliminate any possibility," he said.

"The people that normally watch the parade might be disappointed but there will still be a parade around the showgrounds."

A Tweed Shire Council spokesperson said the hostile vehicle guidelines were developed in 2017 but had only been introduced into regional areas this year.