In a unanimous decision, City of Sydney councillors have backed the creation of an urgent drug policy conference featuring a live pill testing demonstration.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports councillors from across the political spectrum vowed to support the summit last night in the hopes of reassessing current approaches to drug policy and harm minimisation.
Mayor Clover Moore said the proposed summit would allow policy makers and experts in public health to discuss practical responses to the issue of drug related deaths.
The decision comes amid a horror festival season in NSW, which has seen five young attendees die after suspected drug use since September.
“If we fail to consider new initiatives, including illicit drug testing, we risk more young lives being lost,” Moore said.
Kerryn Phelps, City of Sydney councillor, GP, and freshly-minted member for Wentworth, added a pill testing demonstration might just inform “people who are worried about what’s going on in that tent, who think it’s something strange and spooky.”
The councillors’ stance has been approved by STA-SAFE member Dr David Caldicott, who was instrumental in running the successful pill testing trial at Canberra‘s Groovin The Moo festival last year, and held a ‘dry run’ pill testing demonstration just last month.
The councillors now join the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, theRoyal Australian College of General Practicioners, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Uniting Church, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, a former Australian Federal Police commissioner, and many other community groups who have supported further pill testing trials in Australia.
Of course, that goes against the stance of the state government and Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has repeatedly knocked back calls to copy the ACT by running a pill testing trial.
Even if NSW does convene a summit on the issue, and even if the evidence for pill testing is laid out in front of the state’s elected officials, there’s likely another ideological battle to fight before any practical action is taken.