NSW Premier reiterates Government’s opposition to pill testing despite coroner’s impending recommendation
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has again ruled out the prospect of pill testing at music festivals despite a leaked draft coroner’s report recommending the move.
- NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told ABC News that the Government will not support any move for pill testing
- The Premier said pill testing “sends a wrong message”
- The comments follow leaked draft findings of a coronial inquest into music festival deaths which supports pill testing as a safety measure
The State Government is today introducing to Parliament legislation to reinstate a system that requires festivals deemed “high-risk” to meet a safety management plan.
However, Ms Berejiklian told ABC News she had not yet seen the coroner’s report but the Government’s position on pill testing was unchanged.
“We will not go down that path because we feel very strongly that it sends a wrong message,” she said.
“It actually gives people a false sense of security because how one person reacts to a drug is very different to another person reacting and unfortunately we have seen people lose their lives by taking what is a pure substance, a pure drug.
“What pill testing does is pick up on irregularities, however pill testing doesn’t protect people from the actual substance itself and that’s what concerns us as a Government.”
The stance has frustrated Jennie Ross-King, whose daughter Alex died in January after taking MDMA on her way to a music festival.
“The Premier constantly keeps regurgitating the same messaging, saying it’s not safe to take an illicit drug,” she said.
“Drug checking does not ever say that, so for the Premier to keep saying what she’s saying, she’s factually incorrect.”
Eleven out of about 90 festivals that take place across the state will be deemed “high-risk” and subject to heightened criteria covering emergency medical workers, security and other conditions such as patrons’ access to water.
The regulations were introduced in March but Opposition spokesman for music and the night-time economy John Graham moved to disallow the regulations in a motion carried by the Upper House late last month.
Ms Berejiklian said the “vast majority” of festivals had sufficient safety measures.
“We strongly say to people, we want people to have a good time. We want these music festivals to flourish, we want more of them.
“But when you’re deemed to be high-risk, we want you to meet the government halfway in terms of ensuring sufficient health support [and] sufficient security to protect the safety of what are sometimes very large festivals with thousands and thousands of young people attending.”
The move to reinstate the legislation comes a day after the leaking of draft recommendations from a coronial inquest into a number of drug-related deaths at NSW festivals over the past summer.
NSW coroner Harriet Grahame is set to recommend pill testing and the scrapping of police body searches and sniffer dogs, according to the leaked documents.