NSW Government skips parliamentary drug summit

THE Greens have chalked up the absence of any New South Wales Liberals or Nationals at a parliamentary drug summit as proof the Baird Government has its head in the sand on drug law reform.

The Canberra forum brought together federal and state MPs from across the country to hear from doctors and researchers about the best way forward in drug policy.

The NSW Government was conspicuously unrepresented.

"Sadly, while numerous Liberal federal and state colleagues of Mr Baird gathered in Canberra to participate in the summit, not one representative of the NSW Liberals and Nationals attended," Greens drugs spokeswoman Mehreen Fahruqi said.

The meeting coincided with in-principle support to pill testing on its premises from Australia's biggest electronic music festival Stereosonic.

Festival organisation Totem Onelove said it would happily provide a trial site "as long as all the key stakeholders sanctioned the initiative to ensure its effectiveness".

"We would strongly support any policies or initiatives that would minimise harm, reduce drug use and make events a safer environment for patrons," it continued in a statement.

"Unfortunately drug use is an issue affecting all Australians and is not limited to events."

Back in Sydney, Premier Mike Baird shut down any hint of the government considering easing drug possession laws to let trials go ahead.

"What they are asking us to do is to allow illegal drugs," he told Channel 7's Sunrise.

"Don't do it. That is the best form of safety you can do.

"Don't take the pills and you'll be fine."

Emergency doctor and senior university lecturer Dr David Caldicott and Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr Alex Wodak this week announced they were willing to flout the law to carry out guerrilla pill testing at festivals.

They planned to launch a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a mobile drug testing laboratory staffed by forensic toxicologists and medical experts to visit festivals and run tests on punters' drugs.

The data gathered would be used to paint a picture of what chemicals Australian festival-goers were taking, but also to encourage those with pills spiked with foreign and harmful chemicals to ditch them rather than take the risk.

Ms Fahruqi was critical of the government's response.

"While the summit was underway, the NSW Premier ruled out working with the organisers of one of Australia's biggest dance music festivals to introduce a trial that would undoubtedly save lives and reduce harm," she said.

"Yesterday's Canberra Declaration, which came out of the parliamentary drug summit, shows clear support for a trial of pill testing, or drug checking, at music festivals and other events.

"I would be happy to fill Mr Baird in on what happened at the summit. My door is always open." -APN NEWSDESK



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