The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania has congratulated the Tasmanian Legislative Council members who supported Member for Murchison, Ruth Forrest’s pill testing motion this evening.
ATDC chief executive, Alison Lai said that while the final motion stopped short of calling on the Tasmanian Government to trial pill testing during this festival season, she was very pleased with the outcome, which would assist in keeping a Tasmanian pill testing trial a possibility in the future.
“First and foremost we are respectful of the Tasmanian Government’s position that they are not ready, at this stage, to conduct a trial of pill testing,” Ms Lai said.
“We appreciate that this is not a matter that will be able to be resolved before the upcoming festival season, and we thank them for their ongoing commitment to reviewing the evidence as it becomes available.
“The concept of pill testing continues to generate strong interest and opinions across the broader community, and these diverse views are being mirrored in our parliament.
“It is still our position that there is sufficient evidence to conduct a trial of pill testing in Tasmania and we remain committed to working with government to address any concerns that they may have.
“We are encouraged by tonight’s outcome, which sends a clear message that the Upper House wants to see strategies introduced to reduce the harms of illicit drugs at our music festivals and events, and that there continues to be broad support for keeping pill testing on the table as a potential option for the future.
“We want to express our thanks to Ruth Forrest for her unwavering commitment to progressing this important issue, and to all the members of the Legislative Council who supported Ms Forrest’s motion including the members of the Tasmanian Labor Party, represented by Member for Rumney, Sarah Lovell.
“We also express our appreciation to the Liberal Government members of the Upper House, represented by Member for Montgomery, Leonie Hiscutt, for their collaborative approach to this debate.
“While the final motion that was supported was worded slightly differently to the amendments proposed by the Liberal Party members, it was evident through the views expressed this evening, that everyone was working with the same goal in mind, which is to reduce the harms of illicit drug-use at Tasmanian music festivals and events.”
Following a number of amendments, the version of Ms Forrest’s motion that was supported is as follows:
(1) That the Legislative Council notes:
(a) The Report of the State Coroner’s Court of New South Wales of the Inquest into the death of six patrons of NSW music festivals (the Report), released on 8 November 2019 by Magistrate Harriet Grahame, the Deputy State Coroner for New South Wales; and
(b) The thorough and evidence-based approach taken to inform the Report.
(2) That the Legislative Council calls on the Tasmanian Government to:
(a) Fully consider the NSW Coroner’s Report;
(b) in partnership with Festival organisers put in place measures to actively promote the safety of patrons attending Tasmanian 2019-20 music festivals;
(c) undertake evidence informed public education campaigns related to the harms of illicit drug use; and
(d) give full and genuine consideration to the Report’s Recommendation 1, to the New South Wales’ Department of Premier and Cabinet, recommending the introduction of a front of house medically supervised pill testing/drug checking and reaffirm the Government’s commitment made during debate on 14 August 2019, to review the NSW Coroner’s Report and the forthcoming Australian National University independent evaluation of the second pill testing trial in the ACT.
The ATDC’s position on pill testing is echoed by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Nursing Midwifery Association, the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Forensic and Clinical Toxicology Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, Family Drug Support Australia, and the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation. At the local level, it is also supported by Tasmanian community organisations including Health Consumers Tasmania, the Youth Network of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Community Legal Centres Tasmania. A trial is also supported by the Hobart City Council.