Former federal police chief calls for pill testing at music festivals

The New South Wales government is standing firm on their zero tolerance approach to drugs.

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Unsplash/Hanny Naibaho

Former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer has joined the increasingly loud call for pill testing at music festivals following two recent suspected overdoses.

Palmer says harm minimisation measures are supported by sufficient evidence and should be trialled at festival grounds across the country.

"Pill testing is not a silver bullet but it’s a proven and positive way to help prevent this kind of tragedy, has majority support from Australians and must be at least trialled on a pilot basis - if it doesn’t work then stop it," he says.

There have been two suspected drug-related deaths in the past fortnight. A 22-year-old Lost Paradise attendee died after being taken to Gosford Hospital on Saturday December 29, 2018. Back in Victoria, a 20-year-old man died on Tuesday January 1 from a suspected drug overdose after attending Beyond the Valley in Lardner. 

On Sunday December 30, 2018, Falls Festival warned Lorne attendees of a "dangerous orange pill" circulating the campgrounds.

Palmer says in this time of tragedy, we must be smarter in how we approach recreational drug consumption at festivals.

"Young people can get drugs easily, but don’t know what they are taking. In responding to tragedy we must sometimes face hard truths," Palmer says.

"Decades of a punitive approach where we arrest young people has not worked."

The New South Wales government has held its ground on a zero-tolerance drug policy, which Palmer says is ineffective.

“When are we going to learn that threats and our current 'Just Say No' campaign are not working and cannot work."

To find out more about pill testing, check out our guide here.