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February 3, 2023

Labor to consider pill testing at music festivals: Pugh

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ALP candidate for the state seat of Ballina, Asren Pugh. Photo supplied

The Labor candidate for the state seat of Ballina, Asren Pugh, says he will push to ensure the option of pill testing at music festivals is included in a ‘drug summit’ to be held if Labor wins the NSW election.

But he has stopped short of stating pill testing is – or will become – Labor Party policy.

Mr Pugh’s comments came in response to another young man losing his life after taking pills at a music festival on the weekend.

Twenty-two-year-old rugby player Josh Tam died after being taken to hospital from the Lost Paradise music festival near Gosford.

‘My heart goes out to the family and friends of this young man,’ Mr Pugh said.

‘It is yet another young life that has been lost that shouldn’t have been. We must be doing everything we can to ensure that we use the best available evidence to keep people safe.’

State Labor leader Michael Daley has committed Labor to holding a ‘drug summit’ if elected in March.

It would be similar to the one held under Bob Carr in 1999, which led to the introduction of the safe heroin injecting room in Kings Cross.

Mr Daley has confirmed ‘all options will be on the table’ at the summit, including pill testing at music festivals.

Mr Pugh said, ‘I have two young children myself and I want to know that they will be safe when they get a little older and start going out by themselves.’

‘The idea being pushed by the Berejiklian government that you can just say no and keep threatening people with bigger and bigger fines to keep people safe is just silly. We know that this approach does not work; we know that this approach does not keep young people safe.’

‘Labor will hold a drug summit if we are elected and I will work with other colleagues from around the state to ensure that pill testing is on the agenda.

‘After that, it will be about listening to all of the stakeholders – the police, parents, ambos, medical experts and young people.’

‘This is about safety. When it comes to safety we need practical solutions, not some moralistic diatribe by the premier,’ Mr Pugh said.


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  1. Allan, Tasmania. All politicians don’t get it regarding drugs, pill testing etc. For decades some of us older people have been saying… Legalise recreational cannabis. Then most of these dangerous pills and amphetamines etc will most likely disappear. The time has come to be smart politicians and police. Stop burying your heads in the past, that time has gone. Encourage our young people to use something if they must that is a natural plant organically grown.

  2. Asren Pugh is on dangerous ground to consider pill testing.
    To take amphetamines or other illegal drugs usually requires a lot of water is taken with the pills as the amphetamines dehydrate the body a lot more than alcohol. So at festivals a lot of water is taken into the body with the pills.
    What is the normal drug for Australians? Alcohol
    So if illegal drugs become a norm they will be taken with alcohol and not water and that will be a mixture of alcohol and amphetamines in the body, it could be a lethal mix
    In hotels smoking has been banned because smoking cannibis and then mixing it with alcohol can cause a disturbance in the brain for some people and can lead to schizophrenia.
    We do not want an increase in deaths or mental illness in society.
    Many people will deny this, but when you become an addict you deny a lot of things that are fact.

    • Quick tip Len, smoking was banned in hotels by Govt based on the detrimental health affects of tobacco smoke on all patrons (non-smoker’s and smoker alike)….and lots of people still smoke!

      And another, if amphetamines become the norm you have stated that consumers of such drugs will then switch their preferred drink to alcohol and not water…..? What the @#%$

      Are you on something Len?

      The whole war on drugs is crazy…education is the key! You can wake up and fix yourself 10 Scotches in the morning and start typing by early afternoon Len…perfectly legal but a little silly to do every day (exemption for NYE!).

      Educate teenage children about ALL drugs, from coffee to cocaine, everything in between and the pro’s and con’s of all. Want to go nowhere fast…Meth and Heroin will get you there real quick I told my then 15 yr old…..he’s 22 and not drinking water at festivals.

      Usually it’s best to stick to organics Len, things that have been growing wild on this earth from the get go.

      Most of us take one form of drug or another daily. be it legal or otherwise. We should all remember this and try not to judge others so quickly.

  3. Even if a summit is held there will be no change to policies. It simply won’t happen. Australians are apathetic and politicians too gutless to risk bringing in something as forwarding looking as progressive drug legislation. It seems our anti establishment convict past has disappeared and we are a bunch of sheep who let unrepresentative pollies bring in all sorts of fascist laws that curtail our freedom. Enlightened drug laws coming in? You have to be joking.


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