“We Went To Iraq On Less Evidence”: Last Night’s ‘Q&A’ Proved Australians Want Pill-Testing

It was more proof that in the face of mounting evidence, those who oppose pill-testing haven't yet taken the time to update their arguments.

Stuart Smith appeared on Q&A to rebut pill-testing

For some time now, members of the Australian government have taken the line that their anti-pill testing stance is indicative of the will of the people.

Politicians like Gladys Berejiklian have framed the issue as a matter of looking out for the safety of Australian young people — even as parents of those who have tragically lost their lives as a result of taking unsafe pills have begged her to reconsider.

But it is increasingly clear that the Australian government is out of lockstep with the Australian people. As last night’s episode of Q&A went a long way towards proving, Australians are largely in support of pill-testing, the demonstrable effectiveness of which has already been substantially proven across Europe.

The panel show took its usual ‘balanced’ view by pitting pill-testing’s opponents — author and former drug user Kerryn Redpath, and Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, toting the official party line — against its supporters — Dr David Caldicott, Dr Marianne Jauncey, the head of the King’s Cross injecting room, and former Federal Police chief Mick Palmer.

But Smith in particular seemed utterly unable to adequately respond to questions from the audience and rebuttals from the other panelists, chief among them Jauncey.

His argument — which never appeared more complicated than repeated requests that the Australian youth simply say no to drugs — could not hold up under attacks on its hypocrisy.

After all, Smith was more than willing to throw his support behind the injecting room, an instance of the government allowing Australians to consume illegal drugs in a safe, controlled manner so as to avoid accidental and preventable deaths. But when it came to pill-testing, he suddenly and illogically drew the line.

Smith’s hard-line, head in the sand argument seemed particularly illogical when framed as a response to the perspective of people like Adriana Buccianti, whose son Daniel died as a result of ingesting an unsafe pill, and who pointed out that the “majority of the Australian voters support pill-testing.”

“How much longer do we have to ignore the evidence and the will of the people?” Buccianti asked.

Later on, when the floor was his, Smith merely repeated his blunt, uncomplicated, anti-drug stance.

“In this state, it’s illegal to use drugs,” was all that Smith seemed able to come up with.

It was more proof, if any was actually needed, that in the face of mounting evidence and consistent pressure from the Australian public and experts alike, those who oppose pill-testing haven’t yet taken the time to update their arguments.

“We went to Iraq on less evidence,” Palmer said, simply, providing one more succinct argument in favour of pill-testing.

You can watch the whole maddening Q&A episode here.