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Gutsy Labor MP Says Up Yours To Party Policy, Calls For Ban On Sniffer Dogs At Music Festivals

NSW Labor MP Jo Haylen has done the unthinkable, and publicly spoken out against her party’s official policy on the issue of drug sniffer dogs.

The Member for Summer Hill used a health debate at the ALP’s annual state conference to launch an ass-whooping attack on both the state liberal government and her own party’s approach to dealing with drug use at music festivals.

The ballsy Haylen stood alone before the 850 delegates at Sydney’s Town Hall to proclaim what most live music punters already know to be true – that sniffer dogs only make drug users engage in even riskier behaviour at festivals.

“Sniffer dogs are ineffective,” she told the conference (via ABC).

“They’re wrong three quarters of the time, causing unnecessary interactions between police and young people. They scare young people into ingesting all of their drugs at once, and cause unnecessary over-doses.”

Instead, the MP wants to implement what she calls a “a harm minimisation approach” to drug laws, which includes a call for amnesty bins and pill-testing at music festivals.

“Rather than ruining lives with a criminal record or worse still, leaving people to take risks on their own, let’s be brave,” Haylen said. “Let’s make good evidence based public policy and once again make NSW a world leader when it comes to harm minimisation.”

The NSW Opposition’s health spokesman, Walt Secord, has confirmed to the ABC that Haylen’s position does not represent the ALP’s policy on the issue.

But her position does reflect the majority of people who actually attend music festivals, with almost 84% of more than 10,000 Music Feeds readers polled voting in favour of pill-testing:

pill testing chart

It’s also the position of leading Aussie health groups, a number of drug policy experts, musicians such as Illy and Peking Duk, as well as other top industry figures including Stereosonic founder Richie McNeil.

However, the NSW liberal government has preferred to go for the equally rational solution of banning music festivals completely if the overdoses don’t stop (which FYI hasn’t done much for the widespread accusations of ultra-conservative, nanny-statism currently being hurled at them from across the country and the world).

Despite overwhelming evidence from overseas indicating the many benefits of pill-testing, the libs have basically refused to even consider it as an option, with Police Minister Troy Grant saying: “We’re not going to set up a regime test to for something that’s illegal to see if it’s safe to ingest or not. We’re not going to condone illegal drug-taking, full stop.”

Haylen’s approach also echoes calls by The Greens, who’ve recently also taken aim at the government’s road-side drug testing scheme for targeting poorer drivers and baseless revenue-raising.

Similarly, Haylen told the ALP: “It hurls people into the legal system for having the most minute traces of drugs in their system, but operates without a shred of evidence to prove it reduces the number of accidents.”

Haylen for Premier?

It’s time to start a conversation about a harm-minimisation approach to drug laws.

Posted by Jo Haylen on Sunday, February 14, 2016

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