Australian politicians are vocally backing pill-testing at music festivals

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Australian politicians are vocally backing pill-testing at music festivals


Politicians are vocally backing pill-testing trials, following what’s been regarded as a successful initiative at this year’s Groovin the Moo festival. 

“How many funerals do we have to go to of people that have taken these substances and found out they’re not what they’re sold?” federal Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch said.

Labour senator Lisa Singh also showed support for pill-testing, showing the issue is receiving praise from both major parties. 

“If we are going to get serious about harm minimisation, then pill testing at a health facility at a music festival without fear of police needs to be an option,” said Singh. 

Senator Singh is the deputy chair of a parliamentary inquiry that prompted national conversation over a reform of drug laws. 

“This is about saving lives, and if that is the message we’re talking about here in relation to harm minimisation, then pill testing needs to be part of a suite of harm minimisation measures offered,” she said.

Pill testing took place at Groovin the Moo this year, marking an Australian first. Pills tested were found to have two toxic chemicals, including N-Ethylpentylone (ephylone) — a lethal chemical that’s been responsible for mass overdoses and deaths at festivals around the world. Results also showed paint, arnica and toothpaste

Matt Noffs — a vocal advocate of harm reduction and one of the architects behind pushing for pill testing at Groovin the Moo — also declared the trial a success. 

Noffs will now to continue to push for pill testing nationwide. 

As well as receiving bipartisan support, the pill-testing trial at Groovin the Moo also received praise from Greens MP Mahreen Faruqi, who is calling for a rollout of pill testing across Australia. 

“The reality is people take drugs whether the NSW Government likes it or not,” she said. “They need to get out of the way to allow experts to get on with the job of keeping people safe.

“Pill testing provides information to people who are intending to take drugs, and allows them to come face-to-face with medical professionals who can give them some sound advice.”

Evidence shows that providing consumers with information about what’s in their drugs successfully reduces harm and has been proved to reduce rates of overdose. 

If Australia were to further the initiative, it would join the ranks of other countries who have been successfully using pill-testing facilities since the ’90s including 20 countries in Europe alongside the US.