Buninyong MP Geoff Howard has thrown his support behind the ACT government’s move to allow pill testing at a music festival in November.
The Spilt Milk Festival on November 25 will be the first event in the country with authorised testing, with ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris stating the move was designed to “keep people safe”.
Mr Howard first voiced his support for a pill testing trial in July after returning from a study trip to Europe and North America.
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While the practice is common elsewhere in the world, Mr Howard’s Labor government has remained steadfast in its opposition to the concept.
The outgoing MP said he was hoping to speak with Premier Daniel Andrews about the matter before standing aside at the election in November 2018.
“Having seen (pill testing) take place in England where they’re doing everything we do at festivals, the opportunity to provide testing will ensure people get advice about the drugs they have and ensure nobody dies from taking a contaminated drug,” Mr Howard said.
“Some people in the community would see this as going soft on drugs when in really it’s a matter where you can do both.”
Mr Howard’s electorate is home to high profile music festivals Meredith and Golden Plains and borders the Ripon electorate, which hosts the Rainbow Serpent Festival.
Organisers of Rainbow Serpent have been vocal supporters of pill testing dating back to the death of Daniel Buccianti in 2012 from a drug overdose. Another death was recorded at the festival in January.
The Victorian Greens have long advocated for a pill testing trial, while the opposition remains opposed.
In a statement acting Mental Health Minister Jill Hennessy said “Victoria Police have provided consistent advice that they do not support pill testing and the Government will not be introducing it”.
“We've increased our funding for harm minimisation - and will continue to work with music festivals, sporting clubs and local communities to ensure Victorians are aware of the risks when it comes to drugs.”