Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has been accused of playing music too loudly — by people associated with a bar she’s feuding with for playing music too loudly.

Rhiannon, whose office is in Sydney’s Surry Hills, is at war with a new bar downstairs from her work, called Play Bar. Rhiannon reckons the jazz bar plays music too loudly and it disrupts her staff. She has complained to the City of Sydney Council and wants the bar to install insulation.

The war escalated recently when Labor took the bar’s side. Local Labor councillor Linda Scott and federal minister Peter Garrett attended a protest night at Play Bar on Friday night; Garrett relived his forgotten years with a speech talking up live music. But could anyone hear him? This tip came in from a mole who was there …

“Senator Lee Rhiannon hosted a noisy knees-up on Friday night in her Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices to farewell a Greens party functionary from the Eve St Erskineville Politburo. The Senator’s staff and guests spent considerable time stomping on their floors, drowning out the live jazz music below, and interrupting a speech by Peter Garrett MP about the importance of vibrant live music venues and small bars in the inner city. Later, the Senator’s staff became embroiled in an argument with the local constabulary about civil rights when they were pinged for drinking alcohol on the street outside the Senator’s office.”

Well well, the shoe’s on the other foot. We put this claim to a spokeswoman for Rhiannon, who said:

“The events on Friday night highlight the absence of insulation between Senator Rhiannon’s office and the Playbar which was removed before the venue started operating and which the landlord is responsible for reinstalling. Chris Dubrow is not a ‘Greens party functionary from the Eve St Erskineville Politburo’.  He has worked as a campaign co-ordinator for the Northern Territory Greens, an adviser for Senator Kerry Nettle and most recently a National Online Systems Co-ordinator for the Australian Greens … The farewell was organised well prior to Senator Rhiannon becoming aware of a Labor event at the Play Bar via this online piece.

“No one had any idea at what time Peter Garrett was speaking at the Labor event. Acoustic music was being played at the farewell with a pink guitar, a green kazoo, a uke and a mandolin and occasionally someone stomped their foot in time with the music. None of Senator Rhiannon’s staff talked with the police.”

For her part, Labor’s Linda Scott said “there was some noisy stomping [from upstairs] when he spoke, but primarily people were there to show their support for the live music that was being played at Play Bar”. And Garrett didn’t bite at Crikey’s enquiry about the live music face-off, merely responding with:

“There are precious few places where Sydney-siders can gather to enjoy local talent. The lifeblood of the local music scene depends on people having places to play and this little venue [Play bar] deserves to stay open on Friday and Saturday nights.”

Upstairs downstairs in Surry Hills! Who will win the live music war — and where will the green kazoo appear next?

Peter Fray

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