Music

Politicians Are Finally Getting On Side With Pill Testing After The Success Of Groovin The Moo

"How many funerals do we have to go to?"

Federal politicians on both sides of the aisle have said they want to see more pill testing at music festivals, following the successful implementation of the country’s first official trial at Groovin the Moo in Canberra over the weekend.

“How many funerals do we have to go to of people that have taken these substances and found out they’re not what they’re sold?” asked Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch during an interview with ABC Radio, adding that pill testing could help educate young people about the substances they are taking.

The sentiment was shared by Labor senator Lisa Singh, who last year served as deputy chair of parliamentary task force on drug law enforcement.

“If we are going to get serious about harm minimisation, then pill testing at a health facility at a music festival must be an option,” she told the national broadcaster. “Pill testing needs to be part of a suite of harm minimisation measures offered.”

The Greens, who have long supported pill testing, also praised the Canberra trial.

“The reality is that taking these steps will save the young people’s lives,” Greens senator Jordon Steele-John told Junkee. “If we hadn’t have had this pill-testing trial at GTM over the weekend then it’s likely we would now be mourning the avoidable deaths of two young people who have ingested deadly substances.”

“I applaud all of those people who have fought to make this trial happen and I sincerely hope to see a more sensible approach to drugs policy around the country into the future.”

128 people took advantage of the pill testing service at Groovin The Moo, which turned up some fairly staggering data. Of the 85 samples tested, 50 percent contained substances other than what punters expected, including toothpaste and paint. Two of the samples contained potentially deadly substances.

The ACT’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Kelly, said that the other states and territories could learn a thing or two from the Canberra trial.

“There lessons learned will be really valuable for what the ACT does next and I really hope other jurisdictions around Australia,” he said.

Neither of the major parties have a federal policy on pill testing, with federal health minister Greg Hunt insisting it is a matter for the states.