MS PATTEN My question is for Minister Herbert, representing the Minister for Police. Last Monday, 15 February, Four Corners aired Dying to Dance, an in-depth look at Australia’s dance party drug scene, and in particular Victoria’s.
A number of eminent experts took part in the program, including a former Director of Public Prosecutions in New South Wales, a former Australian Federal Police Commissioner, police officers, medical professionals and toxicologists.
Each expert noted that punitive investigative measures are not only expensive and ineffective but that they actively contribute to drug-related harm, as opposed to harm reduction measures such as pill testing.
My question is that given that we now have over 100 years of research into punitive approaches to illicit substances that establishes the inefficacy of criminalising personal drug users, how much does the Victorian government spend on harm reduction schemes?
I thank the minister for his reply. According to Cate Quinn of the Victoria Police Forensic Centre, ‘Law enforcement is not just about investigation, but about mitigating and reducing harm in the community’. She cited providing information as an example of reducing harm.
Experts in health and law enforcement noted that we should be doing everything possible to ensure that those who experiment when they are young can survive that experience. These experts highlighted harm reduction schemes such as pill testing as vital if we are to combat drug-related deaths and injuries. Given that pill testing is now research-based, evidence-informed best practice, could the minister explain why the Victorian government is still refusing to protect people with this harm reduction method?
On a point of order, President, Minister Herbert also committed to providing a detailed response on the issue of pill testing and the government’s refusal to adopt it, in the supplementary.