Wagga MP Joe McGirr has welcomed the NSW Government's move to install 'drug amnesty bins' at music festivals while acknowledging that pill testing advocates will see it as too much of a compromise.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday afternoon that "music festivalgoers will have a chance to discard illegal drugs into amnesty bins without fear of prosecution or penalty".
Dr McGirr, who has previously said he would support a trial of pill testing, told The Daily Advertiser that the amnesty bins were a "positive step forward".
"There are advocates of pill testing who will see this as not enough," Dr McGirr said.
"But I think for people who previously opposed pill testing on the ground that it sends the wrong message, this is at least a situation where people can get rid of their drugs.
"It will allow some testing to take place so that we get some intelligence on which drugs have adulterants or other factors in them, and I think that will improve the safety for people at festivals.
"It is a step forward - it's not the total solution - and I think people should feel more comfortable with it who have been opposed to pill testing."
Dr McGirr said the amnesty bins were aimed at preventing scenarios where people in line for festivals see police and sniffer dogs at the door and decide to consume their drugs rather than get caught.
The announcement comes after a coronial inquest into a string of deaths at music festivals and another fatality at an event in the Riverina.
A 24-year-old Victorian man died of a suspected drug overdose at the Strawberry Fields four-day music festival in Tocumwal earlier this month.
Another 95 people at the festival were charged with drug offences, including one man accused of possessing 75 MDMA tablets, speed and cocaine.
Ms Berejiklian said the government would also extend targeted education campaigns, improve information sharing between state agencies about the toxicology of drugs found at music festivals and will work with festival organisers to improve the health services at their events.
"The recent deaths at music festivals are tragic reminders of the dangers of illegal drugs," Ms Berejiklian said.
"We will continue to send the strong message that drugs can and do kill.
"Amnesty bins will provide a quick and easy way for music festivalgoers to discard their drugs - no questions asked."
Dr McGirr said he had been involved with a "behind the scenes" effort to change NSW drug policy that was led by independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich with the help of independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper.
"I think the Police Minister has come on board with it, which is good," Dr McGirr said.
"Hopefully this will be at least a small step in leading to improving safety at music festivals."
In a statement, Mr Greenwich said the amnesty bins had "long been something I have recommended to the government".
"With my independent colleagues Dr Joe McGirr and Greg Piper, I look forward to working with the government as the policy around amnesty bins develops," Mr Greenwich said.
"However, we still need a comprehensive harm minimisation approach based on evidence in line with the Deputy State Coroner's recent recommendations that we introduce pill testing, decriminalise personal drug use, overhaul strip searches and drug dog operations, and undertake a drug summit.
"I will continue to work with the government as they implement this reform and advocate for the implementation of the Deputy State Coroner's full recommendations on drug use at music festivals."
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay accused Ms Berejiklian of having "buried her head in the sand and failed to listen to the experts".
"We need a limited, medically supervised trial of pill testing at music festivals," Ms McKay said.