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Busking a step closer

BUSKING may be allowed in the Whitsundays if a new policy is adopted by Whitsunday Regional Council at its meeting next week.

This will be music to the ears of Whitsunday resident and busking enthusiast, Andrew Finlay.

The 30-year-old musician has started a Facebook page in an attempt to attract others towards the issue of legalised busking in Airlie Beach.

He has 200 fans plus 500 physical signatures.

As a musician, he has played at KC'S, Banjo's, the Dingo Beach Hotel and several venues in Bowen.

Since a young age, the former Proserpine State High School student has only ever wanted to entertain.

“Music softens the savage beast,” he said.

But his passion for entertaining and busking has seen him wind up on the wrong side of law.

He has voiced his frustration at being treated like a criminal for doing what he loves.

In February this year, he faced Proserpine Magistrates' Court for the second time in two years because he had been busking illegally.

He was found guilty of soliciting donations in a public place and placed on a $150 bond for three months, with no conviction recorded, after pleading not guilty to the charge.

The sentence was dished out reluctantly by Magistrate Athol Kennedy who said at the time, “I can't see anything wrong with busking but it's against the law and that's all can deal with.”

He said that he has been well behaved since receiving the good behaviour bond but desperately just wanted to busk.

“This is a livelihood for me,” he said. “The one thing I can do well is music.”

He worked at the Proserpine Sugar Mill between 2003 and 2007 before travelling overseas.

He returned in 2008 but has been unable to find a job. He wants to busk to entertain.

In Queensland, busking is monitored by Local Government with permits issued by Councils to the entertainers who seek them.

Without such a permit, buskers are effectively breaking the law and the Whitsunday Regional Council currently has a policy in place that doesn't support the practice.

That may all change at next week's Council meeting.

If Council approves the policy, it will mean busking will be allowed but buskers will be required to fill out an application form and conditions are attached.

Some of the conditions include:

Specified times that people are allowed to busk.

Separation distances between buskers.

Gaining permission from surrounding restaurants/businesses etc.

Limitation on the number of buskers in a certain area. The lagoon precinct for example.


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