NewsWritten by Emmy Mack on July 23, 2019
Hobart City Council has given the green light to introduce pill testing at music festivals and other major events in the Tassie capital.
As The Mercury reports, Councillor Holly Ewin’s motion calling on the state government to “commence the necessary action to facilitate” a pill testing trial was voted in by a 6:9 majority.
Their motion identifies pill testing as a “health issue” and “harm minimisation strategy”, supported by the Australian Medical Association and other respectable medical bodies.
“A significant number of people attending festivals and venues in the City of Hobart take unlawful drugs contained in pills, powders and liquids,” Council’s rationale states.
“These substances can contain contaminants and uncertain strengths, which can lead to preventable harm and mortality. This harm can be easily avoided by implementing pill testing.”
Four amendments were made to the motion, including one preventing council from funding any prospective future pill testing measures.
It comes after the director of Hobart’s Dark Mofo Festival threw his own weight behind pill testing, calling on the state’s politicians to “stop playing politics with young Tasmanian lives”.
But it’s looking unlikely that Tassie’s Liberal state government will see eye-to-eye with Hobart’s local government, which could render their pro-pill testing motion moot.
“There is no safe use of any illicit drug and our concern is that a testing service indicating an illegal drug is free of certain contaminants sends a mixed and risky message,” a Tasmanian Government spokesperson said (via The Examiner).
“Our focus must be on what we can do to further reduce the use of drugs. We have a number of preventative initiatives aimed at reducing harm and the Tasmanian government will be continuing to work on the issue of substance abuse – as part of this, we will continue to seek advice and work with stakeholders.”
Regardless, as a result of the successful motion, Council will now write to the state government anyway, calling on it to change its stance and facilitate a pill testing trial after the NSW inquest’s findings are made public.
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