By JESSE BURNS
Photo by AAP
Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten says young people will die this summer unless Premier Daniel Andrews allows drug testing at music festivals.
Ms Patten held a press conference on Monday, alongside young people who had experienced near-death incidents as a result of taking drugs, arguing lives lost from drug overdoses could have been saved with pill testing.
“The government still hasn’t agreed to a pill testing trial, an initiative that we know can contribute to keeping young people safe and informed,” Ms Patten said.
“Pill testing will save lives and there is evidence of this across the world and interstate.”
Pill testing advocates have drawn parallels with the Andrews government’s position on a safe injecting room, given state Labor opposed the measure for much of the last term of government but eventually agreed to a trial.
But Mr Andrews has dismissed the comparison, declaring earlier this year that there is “no comparison to be made”.
“Even substances that are so-called pure, can kill. That’s the start and the finish of it. There is no safe level at which you can consume this stuff,” Mr Andrews said in March.
Pill testing has meanwhile been trialled in the ACT, with advocates arguing seven young lives were potentially saved when a trial at the Groovin’ the Moo festival in Canberra identified lethal substances.
City of Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross joined Ms Patten at her St Kilda press conference, urging the Victorian government to act, with several music festivals due to take place locally in coming months.
“We’ve discovered that over the decades the war on drugs has been the most failed war that has ever been waged,” Mr Gross said.
“It’s our duty as members of the community and members of various tiers of parliament and council to enable the safety of drug use to be magnified.”
According to the Pennington Institute, drug overdoses cause more deaths than road accidents.
There were 2,162 drug fatalities in Australia last year, of which 392 were in Victoria.