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My response to the push for a pill testing trial at NSW music festivals

This week The Daily Advertiser asked whether I would support a pill testing trial at music festivals in NSW.

This was my response:

Firstly and most importantly, the health and safety of our young adults is paramount and has to be our number-one priority.

It is clear drug use is very widespread at concerts and festivals. The fact that nearly 200 people were arrested on drug charges at Sydney's Field Day music festival on January 1, is evidence of that.

Even with increased police numbers, we’re still seeing drug-related deaths, injuries and sickness. With the number of incidents increasing, we clearly need to look at all the options for minimising harm.

Pill testing has been raised as a potential harm-reduction measure and, while I may not like it and we must not give a green light to drug use, I acknowledge a trial would provide a means of measuring the effectiveness of the service.

Despite claims pill testing promotes additional drug use, a European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Report in 2017 used empirical evidence to conclude this criticism was unfounded.

We also know these services can provide trustworthy information, counselling, precautionary safety measures and public warnings; and by extension could save lives. But the fact is, we need to see if it would work in NSW before we go-ahead and I’m open-minded to a trial that is properly evaluated.

If, following a trial, there is evidence to support the efficacy of pill testing, I will consider a parliamentary vote to amend the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.