Coroner Calls On NSW Government To Introduce Pill Testing Immediately
After much speculation, a coroner has confirmed she is recommending the New South Wales government introduce pill testing at music festivals.
The corner has spent weeks listening to cases of several deaths at these types of events as well as information from stakeholders about how to prevent further tragedies in the future.
Coroner Harriet Grahame has released her findings and says the road forward couldn't be more clear.
"I am in no doubt whatsoever that there is sufficient evidence to support a drug-checking trial in NSW," Grahame told the NSW Coroners Court.
"Of course, drug checking is not a magic solution. [But] in my view, the evidence is compelling.
"Drug checking is simply an evidence-based harm reduction strategy that should be trialled as soon as possible in NSW."
It's highly unlikely the state government will accept the recommendation.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her government was standing strong on the issue when parts of the coroner's report was leaked last month. She said the Liberals won the state election based on the promise that the Premier wouldn't weaken legislation around drugs.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Premier will instead impose safety laws on music festivals and penalise those that don't live up to the standards set.
Ms Berejiklian added on Sunrise: "I respect all coronial inquiries and reports, I respect her position, but we won't be saying yes it's safe to take illicit drugs.
"All of us care about saving lives but there is no way to take an illicit drug safely. What we need to do is make sure high risk festivals have the health experts and security on hand to prevent young people from dying and getting injured.
"I'm calling on Labor to support this legislation - we want to save lives over the summer."
The government had a safety regulation system in place, however it was overturned by, what Ms Berejiklian calls, 'an alliance of Labor, Greens and Shooters' MPs'.
"Labor, the Greens and the Shooters took away these regulations and left nothing in their place. This legislation will rectify that," Ms Berejiklian said.
"The situation is clear - music festivals identified as high-risk under the former licensing system will continue to be high-risk under this law. These laws provide absolute certainty for the festival industry."
In addition to pill testing, the coroner has recommended personal use of drugs to be decriminalised as well as changing the wording of legislation around strip searches to ensure police couldn't ask for one unless they had 'reasonable suspicion'.
Featured Image Credit: PA