Image for Groovin The Moo Pill Testing Proposal Knocked Back By ACT GovernmentPhoto: Daniel Grant

Groovin The Moo Pill Testing Proposal Knocked Back By ACT Government

Written by Tom Williams on April 24, 2017

A pill testing program proposed for the Canberra leg of this year’s Groovin The Moo festival has been rejected by the ACT Government, with a leading harm reduction advocate criticising the decision.

The proposed pill testing trial was put forward by Harm Reduction Australia, but (as
As Fairfax Media reports) was knocked back by the ACT Government for not being “well enough formed” for the festival in May.

The ACT’s Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, has told ABC Radio that the Government isn’t opposed to pill testing, but has “a range of questions and concerns” and would never “stamp your pill and say it’s safe”.

“This needs to be an evidence-based, public health decision not a Facebook petition,” he said.

In response, illicit drug expert Dr David Caldicott, who is pushing for pill testing at Aussie festivals, says Harm Reduction Australia’s proposal was based on a working model in the UK which tested 200 pills per festival.

“In fact it was so minutely detailed that the minister’s office had the opportunity to ask, ‘What uniforms would those conducting the pill testing be wearing?’ If there were issues they wanted to discuss they would quite easily have raised them’,” he says.

“Every question that has been asked of us as a research group has been answered so unless they were keeping questions in reserve I suspect there are no questions that remain unanswered.

“I think one of the greatest misconceptions about pill testing, particularly when it’s conducted by medical folk, is that at any stage, is anyone ever encouraged to take a pill. In fact in the script which we read to the consumer, we advise them the only way to stay safe is not to consume their pill.

“We know 60 per cent, in some series 75 per cent, of people who are advised that their pill contains something other than what they were expecting do something other than consume that pill.

“I suspect the parents or the loved ones of the next overdose that could have been prevented by our initiative, they will be the ones doing the persuading.”

Music Feeds has contacted Groovin The Moo organisers for comment.

It was suggested that pill testing could arrive at major Aussie music festivals last summer, but that didn’t eventuate. Since then, the council behind Melbourne’s St Kilda Festival has voted in favour of pill testing, but NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said pill testing at local music events “won’t happen”.

Groovin The Moo 2017 will take place in Wayville, Maitland, Townsville, Bendigo, Canberra and Bunbury between April and May.

Gallery: Groovin The Moo 2016, Maitland / Photos: Annette Geneva

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