NSW Government Doubles Down: No Pill Testing, Tougher Penalties For Drugs At Festivals
And safe pill testing is apparently a "myth".
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that new laws will be introduced to crack down on illegal substances at music festivals across the state.
At a press conference today, the premier stated that the new offence could see dealers at music festivals slammed with penalities of between “10 and 25 years” in prison, if they supply a drug that causes someone’s death. The government will also be trialling on-the-spot fines for those that are found to be carrying drugs for personal use.
“The new licensing scheme we are introducing, combined with better regulatory co-ordination, will ensure that events with a poor track record and heightened risk will face greater oversight from the authorities,” Berejiklian said.
“I value human life. I do not want to see any life taken away.
Pill Testing A “Myth”
Pill testing has again been ruled out, with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller bizarrely claiming that the idea of the service being able to save lives was a “myth”:
— Tom Rabe (@Rabe9) October 23, 2018
Just in case you’re wondering: it’s not.
The new measures were recommended to the government by the “expert” safety panel that was formed in the wake of the tragic deaths of two attendees of Defqon.1 festival in Penrith in September from suspected drug overdoses. Two other people, one from Artarmon and the other from Jamisontown, were admitted to hospital in a critical condition.
Following the incident, the premier announced she never wanted to see the festival held in NSW again.
“I never want to see this event held in Sydney or New South Wales ever again — we will do everything we can to shut this down,” she said. “Anyone who advocates pill-testing is giving the green light to drugs. There is no such thing as a safe drug and unfortunately when young people think there is, it has tragic consequences.”
The government’s zero-tolerance position on pill testing has been slammed over the past month, with politicians and health professionals calling for the introduction of the service.
“The premier has the same problem as Defqon.1: thinking that a ban will make a problem go away,” Will Tregoning, the founder and director of drug harm reduction organisation Unharm, told Junkee.
“For years, Defqon.1 told their patrons they have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for drugs. We now know that at least half the people at an event like Defqon.1 will be illegally using drugs,” Tregoning continued. “Banning things just pushes them into the shadows.”