Wagga MP Joe McGirr would be willing to support a pill testing trial to help avoid the spate of drug deaths seen at NSW music festivals.
Dr McGirr told The Daily Advertiser that he would vote for a trial in Parliament, depending on the terms of the legislation.
“I want to make it clear that I understand, and am worried about, the message that (pill testing) sends,” he said.
“But if we are going to reduce deaths and injuries and illness from drug use, then we need to look at a range of options.
“There is not just one silver bullet, and within (policy discussions), pill testing may have a role.”
Dr McGirr said saving lives needed to be a priority and the nearly 200 drug arrests at Sydney’s Field Day event on New Year’s Day showed that the abstinence message was not taking hold.
“It’s pretty clear that drug use at festivals is pretty widespread; when I talk to young people they say they’re awash with them,” he said.
“We have a situation with increased police numbers and increased penalties among other recommendations by a government report and we are still having a number of incidents and deaths and people getting unwell.
“In that context, I think it is reasonable to look at all our options, and pill testing is one of those options. I don’t like giving a green light to drug use, but it seems to me what we have tried so far hasn’t been effective.”
The pill testing debate has been re-ignited by the deaths of four young people the last four months from suspected overdoses.
Wagga Labor candidate Dan Hayes has said the party was leaving open all options for experts at a drug summit if they won government in March.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week softened her stance on pill testing, which she previously ruled out as a government policy.
"If there was a way in which we could ensure that lives were saved through pill testing we would consider it - but there is no evidence provided to the government on that," Ms Berejiklian said.
Dr McGirr said Ms Berejiklian was not entirely correct.
“The report of her own commission pointed out that (pill testing) is not associated with increased drug use,” he said.
Dr McGirr said he agreed with critics of pill testing that it offered no guarantee of safety for drug users.
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