NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a raft of measures aimed at combating drug-related deaths at music festivals in the state, none of which involve introducing repeatedly-called-for pill testing.
Berejiklian fronted media this afternoon to announce a raft of tighter proposed laws, which the Premier claims is aimed at making dealers solely responsible for the lives of people who die after taking pills they sold them, which were formulated after consultation from a State Government-formed safety panel.
There, the NSW Premier announced the State Government would soon introduce tighter laws that would “target drug suppliers by introducing a new offence that will hold drug dealers responsible for the deaths they cause,” and even more remarkably, and additional trial of a law that would see festival goers caught in possession of drugs slapped with on-the-spot fines.
Of the former law, Berejiklian speculated that the punishment for dealers who fall afoul of the new offence – on the off chance they’re proven guilty – would be punished with the same severity as manslaughter or grievous bodily harm; charges that currently carry prison terms of anywhere between 10 and 25 years’ jail in New South Wales.
The new licensing scheme we are introducing, combined with better regulatory co-ordination, will ensure that events with a poor track record and heightened risk will face greater oversight from the authorities.
I value human life. I do not want to see any life taken away.
Unbelievably, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller fully backed the measures, and stated firmly that the idea of pill testing saving lives was “a myth.” This, despite the mountains of research and real-world trials that have repeatedly shown it is extremely effective in reducing harm.
— Tom Rabe (@Rabe9) October 23, 2018
The report and subsequent new laws were made in response to two people dying of suspected overdoses at the Defqon.1 festival in Penrith on September 15th. At the time, Berejiklian vowed to shut the festival down completely in an unprecedented move from a State Premier, asserting at the time “I never want to see this event held in Sydney or New South Wales ever again – we will do everything we can to shut this down.“
The report into festival practices was conducted without input from music industry officials, in the latest in a line of controversial decisions by the NSW Government. Berejiklian had already ruled out implementing pill testing, even if the safety report recommended it.
There’s no word on exactly how much the speculative on-the-spot fines will be at this stage.Image: Getty Images / Don Arnold