Pill Testing - Tasmanian Festivals & Events
Ms ARMITAGE - Mr Acting President, obviously no-one wants to see young lives lost. If there were no drug taking, it would be a wonderful world. We know that is not likely.
While I accept the member for Murchison genuinely believes drug testing will save lives, I do not believe there is any safe way to take drugs. I feel this could be seen as a way of normalising drug taking; in other words, making drug taking more normal or usual.
While I note statistics on those taking drugs changing their minds and not taking the drugs following testing, we have no statistics about people who decide to take drugs at festivals, or other places, because they believe having the pills tested makes it safer to do so and drug taking has become more normalised.
I accept the member for Murchison's motion simply requests the Government to commence the necessary steps to explore how a trial of pill testing could occur during the 2019-20 summer festival season. While this motion does not require drug testing to be instigated, it starts the process. I am concerned this sends a message to young people, or any people, that while drugs are illegal, they are condoned and accepted, particularly at music festivals. While I accept no-one is telling a person a drug is safe to take, I believe the person will infer that.
Do we really believe the person with the drug will listen to the information provided to them? It appears to be assumed they will go straight to the pill testing area before imbibing alcohol or other products - that is, that they are completely sober, without anything else in their system and willing and ready to listen to the advice provided.
I am also concerned that when someone takes a pill at a festival after testing and feeling comfortable it is free of certain contaminants, they may then become addicted, as it could be the first time - but sadly, not the last.
Unfortunately, peer pressure could encourage someone to take a pill by pointing out the pill testing, almost legitimising the use of illicit drugs. How does the tester know what the person has already taken? They may have taken medication or have medical conditions. If so, how will the drugs affect them? I assume they rely on honest responses from the person wishing the drug to be tested, but they may already be under the influence of alcohol and simply not remember or not care to say.
People may ask why would we vote against a bill that protects young lives. I do not believe it will protect young lives. Why would we support a bill that rightly or wrongly, in my opinion, makes people think it is okay to take -
Ms Forrest - It is not a bill. It's a motion.
Ms ARMITAGE - Why would we support a motion that rightly or wrongly, in my opinion, makes people think it is okay to take drugs if they have been tested and shown to be what they are supposed to be? That does not make it safe. I have carefully considered it and spoken to many people and pill testing will provide a mixed message to people. Providing pill testing, as mentioned by the member for Rosevears, has parents saying, 'I want my kids to get home safely'. There are no guarantees that taking a pill that was tested will ensure a person gets home safely or that the pill they took will not have unintended consequences.
I am not convinced there is a safe way to take drugs. While I acknowledge the right of members to bring forward any motion, I am not convinced it is a safe way to take drugs.
I cannot support the motion.
The Council divided -
Ms Webb (Teller)
Ms Howlett (Teller)