Leaked recommendations from Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame include allowing pill testing at music festivals. Due November 8, the report is not finalised according to a spokeswoman for the NSW coroner’s court however the draft report given to NSW police and Health Department has come to light and already elicited strong responses from both sides of politics. The inquest into the deaths of 6 young people at music festivals between 2017 and 2019 is said to also recommend an overhaul of strip searches and getting rid of sniffer dogs.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is maintaining her staunch opposition to pill testing, whilst labor leader Jodi McKay has backed medically supervised pill testing trials. She accused Ms Berejiklian of “sticking her head in the sand” if the premier were to ignore the Coroners recommendations. ”I don’t understand why she has ruled this out now. At least wait for the report” said Ms McKay after the Premier immediately ruled out a change on her position. Both leaders however opposed getting rid of police sniffer dogs and watering down drug law and order approaches. Ms McKay also wants a focus on education and training with a “broader view of fixing this within the music industry”.

Legislation being introduced into parliament by Berejiklian and the Liberal Party looks to enforce safety management plans at music festivals that are considered to have a higher risk of drug use. The strict regulatory scheme had previously been voted down by Labor, the Greens and the Shooters party. Restrictions on music festivals under the proposed legislation aim to reduce drug overdoses, however Greens MP Cate Faehrmann instead advocates using the Coroners findings to reduce deaths via testing and other measures. She has stated that “If the coroner hands down findings in relation to pill testing and reducing police presence, it is because that will save lives. “When those recommendations see the light of day, I urge the premier to adopt those recommendations, listen to the evidence and throw out the politics on this issue.” Further Ms Faehrmann stated that pill testing is ready to go and “If we have the coronial inquest recommending pill testing as a way to save lives and the premier doesn’t have the courage to implement pill testing, then I think she has to wear what happens over the summer frankly.”

Reference: Wednesday 16 October 2019 https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/

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