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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The NSW Government Has Set Up a New Panel to Advise on How to Make Festivals Safer

But it will not be considering pill testing.
By Libby Curran
September 19, 2018
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By Libby Curran
September 19, 2018
  shares

In the wake of last weekend's Defqon 1 dance festival tragedy, where two punters died and more were injured as a result of suspected drug overdoses, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tabled a 'solution'. She's pulled together an expert panel to advise on how to make our festivals safer, which includes Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Philip Crawford.

Ms Berejiklian announced the decision via social media, saying that the panel would provide advice on how music festivals and promoters can improve safety at their events, the efficacy of increased drug education, and whether new offences or harsher penalties are required.

While many are calling for the introduction of pill testing, Ms Berejiklian has rejected the suggestion, saying the NSW Government does not support pill testing. "Pill testing doesn't guarantee the safety of a drug and what might be safe for one person may not be safe for another person," she told the SMH. "The last thing we would want to see is people getting a false sense of security."

However, her comments have received much backlash online from the public and other politicians.

Australia's first and only pill testing trial took place at Canberra's Groovin The Moo festival earlier this year, allowing punters to have their drugs analysed for unknown and potentially lethal additives. Eighty-five substances were tested and a bunch of lethal ingredients were found.

While no further pill testing trials have yet been announced, the advocacy group behind the Groovin The Moo trial, Harm Reduction Australia, is currently attempting to raise $100K to introduce pill testing throughout Australia. If they do succeed in raising the amount, however, they'll still need to gain the approval of the state governments.

Ms Berejiklian has asked her expert panel to provide their advice within four weeks, following close consultation with the likes of the local government and those in the music industry.

Image: Big Sound, Bec Taylor

Published on September 19, 2018 by Libby Curran

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