Tweed MP supports festival pill testing
NATIONALS MP Geoff Provest has broken ranks with NSW Government leadership and thrown his support behind the testing of illicit drugs at music festivals.
NSW Premier Mike Baird yesterday shot down a proposal by Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr Alex Wodak to establish pill testing stations at music festivals to improve safety for users.
The proposal was met with support by the organisers of the Stereosonic festival, which suffered the death of two event-goers within a week last December, both believed to have died after taking illicit drugs.
Mr Provest said the hard-line approach to drugs wasn’t working.
“I don’t think we can just put our head in the sand and say we’re going to arrest them,” Mr Provest said.
“I would like to investigate pill testing at festivals.
“Just to the south, we have some of the major festivals.”
Mr Provest - whose electorate borders the North Byron Parklands site home to popular festivals Splendour in the Grass and The Falls - spoke passionately about the matter, despite being at odds with the Coalition Government.
“Ultimately, it’s not the party that elects me… it’s the local people,” Mr Provest said.
“Every year we see more and more young people die. I don’t think we can ignore it.”
Mr Provest said he was shocked when Sydney pharmacist Sylvia Choi, 25, and Adelaide man Stefan Woodward, 19, died within a week of each other at Stereosonic music festivals last year.
He said discussions with his own children had made it clear drugs were “everywhere”, and current policies weren’t helping.
He hoped to spark discussion involving young people in a bid to prevent further tragedies.
“I think a big part of this debate… is anyone talking to the young people?” he said.
“You’ve got to talk to them.
“I’d love to involve young people. They’re stakeholders.”
His comments come ahead of a major NSW Government-initiated drug forum to be held at Tweed Heads Civic Centre next Thursday, aimed at investigating the depth of the ice problem in the region.