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.