I am in the process of completing an article for A********* P********** magazine about the various photographic regulations around the country. As part of the research for that article, I sent an email to Waverley Council on August 27th. Just today (September 13th), I have received a response.
My initial email read as follows:
“I am a Sydney-based writer who has written quite extensively about the issue of photographic access and restrictions in Australia, particularly as they apply in national parks and some local council areas. I am currently working on a large feature on this subject for A********* P********** magazine, which updates and expands a story that I did for the magazine back in 2004 (“Daylight Robbery”, October 2004).
As you would have been aware the issue of photographic access, fees and permits was raised again in the Sydney media just two weeks ago. There were articles in both the Wentworth Courier and The Sydney Morning Herald and an item on the Channel Ten evening news on August 12th.
I wanted to clarify something for my new article for A********* P********** and would hope that you would be able to help me. Firstly, I understand that Waverley Council requires permits from low-impact “commercial” photographers who wish to take pictures in council’s “public open spaces” and then charges fees on top of that. This seems to happen despite the fact that the Local Government Filming Protocol of 2009 says that the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Act 2008 and the Local Government Act 1993 specifically exclude still photography, and therefore still photography doesn’t require council approval or attract fees unless it involves additional activity such as blocking streets, constructing a set or requires additional parking. This protocol is supposed to be binding upon local councils. My question therefore is this: On what basis is Waverley Council requiring permits from low-impact “commercial” photographers and charging them fees?
Secondly, Waverley Council seems to have produced a recent document titled “Commercial Filming and Photography in and of Public Open Spaces in Waverley”. I have attached a copy of this Word Document which can also be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/2w8f68v
According to this document, you need a permit … ‘If you want to capture aerial images of Waverley for commercial purposes from aircraft flying over the area’ and … ‘If you want to use an image of the Waverley area for a commercial purpose (for example you may be a picture editor, a commercial film library or tour operator).’ My question therefore is this: On what basis can Waverley Council insist on permits in either of these situations? What legal right do you have to ask for such permits?”
I look forward to your response.
And this is the response I got today from Danielle Lee-Ryder, who is the Media/Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Waverley Council.
Thanks for your query relating to photography.
Waverley Council receives thousands of applications each year for photography and filming. There is a high demand from a myriad of groups such as photographers, filming crews, sporting groups, and fitness trainers. It would be physically impossible to allow all these groups to use our area without some form of administration. Like many other councils, we have a permit system to help manage the high demand, make it equitable and help minimise the impact on residents, visitors and the local environment. The permit also ensures the proposed filming and/or photography is suitable for the location, residents are notified where applicable, and that organisations have public liability insurance.
At some locations such as the historic Waverley Cemetery, certain filming and photographic activities are not appropriate. Similarly, Bondi is an iconic venue with world-wide recognition. Many commercial products and events seek to align their product with the Bondi brand. It is in the interest of all parties to protect and maintain its iconic status and image.
Consequently commercial film crews and still photographers need to apply for a permit to carry out commercial work in Waverley’s public open spaces (e.g. beaches, parks and malls). Rangers are notified of all Council issued permits. Rangers will only approach a photographer or filming crew if they appear to be undertaking commercial operations without a valid permit, or behaving in an inappropriate or dangerous manner, or causing disruption to the general amenity of the public.
Waverley Council is extremely supportive of arts and cultural activities. We regularly host arts and photographic exhibitions at the Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Road Arts Centre and the Waverley Library. We also have an artist in residence program to support up and coming local artists where we provide them with a studio and they work towards developing a community minded exhibition. We also hold the Waverley Youth Art Award, Waverley Art Prize, CAL/ Waverley Library Award for Literature and public arts projects. The Bondi Pavilion is also an affiliated venue for the annual Head On photography festival. We also manage and promote a legal graffiti art wall at Bondi Beach.
Fee information is below. In relation to the Filming Protocol this does not apply to still photography, however in consultation with other Councils we amended our fee structure to low, medium and high impact in 2009. We are well within our right to charge a fee as do many other organisations and Councils. All fees go into our general budget and used to help maintain our highly visited area. Council at times negotiates the waiving of fees on a case by case basis.
Application Fee for Low/Medium Impact Photography is $150.00 per application. Rate per hour is $75.00. Application Fee for High Impact Photography or exclusive use is $300.00 per application. Rate per hour is $150.00.