Culture

NSW’s Police Minister Has Slammed Pill Testing Despite Another Festival Tragedy

"It's just not going to happen."

drug test

Doctors and drug experts are again calling for pill testing to be rolled out at music festivals after the death of a Nimbin man at a New Year’s Eve rave on the Queensland-NSW border.

Two other rave attendees remain in hospital in a serious condition.

There are growing calls for pill testing facilities to be provided at festivals and venues, but the NSW Police Minister, Troy Grant, has condemned the proposals.

Grant called in to 2GB radio last night for a discussion on pill testing with conservative columnist Miranda Devine.

“On these sorts of fundamental issues you’re not going to waver me,” Grant said. “People’s health and lives are being jeopardised by some of these foolish pursuits.”

When asked to explain why the government opposed pill testing Grant said: “The number one problem is what they’re proposing is some sort of quality assurance measure… that’s just not going to happen. It gives people a false sense of security.

“As long as we’re in government there’s going to be no changes to making it legal, there’s certainly going to be no investment into a quality assurance tool.”

According to Devine, pill testing would lead to “More deaths not fewer.”

“Everytime there’s a rave in the festival season we have young people dropping like flies,” she said.

Kinda seems like a good reason to introduce a measure like pill testing, right?

Grants comments indicate the NSW government doesn’t understand how pill testing can make festivals safer and help save lives. Which is pretty worrying considering he’s the guy in charge.

Our current approach to drug policy isn’t working. Prohibition isn’t discouraging risky drug taking behaviour, as the tragic New Year’s Eve incident demonstrates.

The evidence shows pill testing works. It gives people valuable information about the drugs they were planning on taking anyway, it reduces the chances of people taking dodgy drugs and research shows it makes drugs less dangerous over time.

If the government is really concerned about the impact of dangerous drugs, and it wants to reduce drug deaths, pill testing is one of the obvious responses.

Unfortunately both Labor and the Liberal party have refused to support pill testing at a state level. Last year the Senate supported a Greens motion calling for pill testing, but that hasn’t translated to any on the ground action from state governments.

Instead we have a Police Minister in NSW banging the law and order drum in response to the preventable death of a young person. It’s an incredibly frustrating, if not surprising, situation.