Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:27):
My question is for the Minister for Health. Minister, the music festival season starts in just a few weeks and the Andrews Labor government still has not agreed to a pill testing trial, an initiative that we know can contribute to keeping young people safe.
We saw overdose statistics come out just today that say that overdoses now cause more deaths than road accidents. My question to the minister is: how many dead young people will it take for the minister to recommend a pill testing trial at major festivals? One? Three? Ten? How many?
Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (12:28):
I think that that kind of emotive language is really unhelpful, Ms Patten. First of all, you know that this sits with Minister Foley as the responsible minister.
I have expressed on previous occasions when I have had these types of questions referred to me in my capacity of representing Minister Foley in this house my absolute sympathy for all those families who have lost a loved one in these circumstances.
In many cases they have lost very young people, young family members, and it is an absolute tragedy that they have experienced that loss. My heart does go out to them because it is absolutely tragic to think that they have sent off a young son or daughter to a music festival to have fun with their friends, and they have died. It is an absolute tragedy. I have talked about on previous occasions the investment that our government has made in drug and alcohol services.
A record $273.1 million in drug services in 2019–20 is what we will be investing. That is a 65 per cent increase over the last four budgets in terms of those types of services. But I will refer the matter to Minister Foley for a further response.
Obviously he will be able to provide the member with further information about the types of initiatives and programs that he funds through his portfolio.
I have talked about a number of these on previous occasions: the DanceWize program and other such programs that have been disparaged by those opposite, who were happy to fund them when they were in government, not realising that—
Ms Crozier interjected.
Ms Wooldridge funded them when she was the responsible minister, but Ms Crozier of course came in this house and disparaged them. I am not going to go into the details of that. I will refer it to Minister Foley, and he can provide the member with some further advice.
Minister, I appreciate your response, and while I understand that you are referring it to Minister Foley I do feel that as Minister for Health this ultimately does come under you.
We saw in the ACT in the recent report on Groovin the Moo, the pill testing trial there, that seven lethal substances—seven different samples of lethal substances—were found, and they saved the lives of people who potentially were going to take that.
So by way of supplementary, I would ask: when someone dies in Victoria what will your response be?
It is a hypothetical question. Minister, do you choose to answer? You do not have to answer.
I have got nothing further to add.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Question without notice 28/8/19