Buninyong MP Geoff Howard throws support behind pill testing trial

Buninyong MP Geoff Howard has thrown his support behind trialing pill testing at music festivals following a recent tour of Europe and North America.   

Buninyong MP Geoff Howard has thrown his support behind a pill testing trial at music festivals such as Lexton's Rainbow Serpent

Buninyong MP Geoff Howard has thrown his support behind a pill testing trial at music festivals such as Lexton's Rainbow Serpent

Mr Howard visited Portugal, England, Canada and the USA on a study tour in July through his role as chair of the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee.  

When in England Mr Howard witnessed pill testing taking place at a music festival, which he says cemented his view that similar systems could be put in place in Australia.  

Mr Howard’s Buninyong electorate takes in the township of Meredith which houses the Meredith and Golden Plains Music Festivals, while the practice has long been advocated for at the nearby Rainbow Serpent Festival in Lexton. 

“Clearly I’m open to the suggestion that pill testing does help to ensure greater safety for people,” Mr Howard said.  “The feedback I get is the reality is a lot of young people are taking risks and using drugs at festivals and you want to make sure none of them die.” 

The statement contrasts with the Labor Party’s existing position on the matter and the opinion expressed by Premier Daniel Andrews, who as recently as January dismissed the concept as a way of normalising drug use. 

While the government position is supported by the opposition, the Greens have called for the policy to be overturned.  

Mr Howard said his preferred option would be to see an expert advisory panel established which could oversee a trial throughout festival season before reporting back to government.

The committee is in the process of formulating a report which will be passed onto government early next year.