Greens Leader Blasts Mike Baird’s ‘Silly, Failed Approach’ To Pill Testing

14 April 2016 | 1:29 pm | Daniel Cribb

“Courage is in short supply at the moment in the parliament.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has slammed the Government’s current approach to pill testing, labelling NSW Premier Mike Baird’s views on the matter a “silly, failed approach”.

Back in March, Baird strongly opposed pill testing at festival, attacking Stereosonic – who last week cancelled their 2016 run – for pushing for the operation at their events.

"There's a pretty simple way that you know you're going to be safe — don't take the pills,” Baird told Channel Seven's Sunrise.

Advocating for the decriminalisation of personal drug use so funds can be redirected to health care and rehabilitation, Di Natale told the current policy makers and politicians such as Baird have a lack of courage when it comes to tackling the matter.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

“You’re talking about a generation of politicians that are out of touch with what happens within the community and that’s a message that might appeal to an older demographic,” Di Natale said.

“It’s totally disconnected to what’s happening in the real world. It’s hard for me to get inside someone’s head like that to understand why, despite all the evidence, you would continue with that silly, failed approach, but I suppose it’s in part because it takes a bit of courage to challenge it, and courage is in short supply at the moment in the parliament.”

Di Natale also attacked the current sniffer dog approach, labelling it nonsensical and “totally unproductive”.

“It doesn’t work as a deterrent, but it contributes to harm. You’ve got some people who engage in riskier behaviour when sniffer dogs are around.

“People will continue to take some of these substances and often the harms associated with them is because people are taking drugs of unknown quality, toxicity,  purity, and to be able to test those drugs will go someway to make sure people aren’t exposed to the riskier substances that are going around.”

Di Natale believed it was a combination of ignorance and fear as well as a generational divide that was stunting progress on the issue.

“You’ve got an older generation of people who haven’t really been exposed to some of these substances and so there’s a lot of fear and ignorance in the community and it tends to be that generation who are making the decisions.

“It’s much more complex to have a mature evidence-based conversation about this stuff. I think there’s a lot of resistance, some of the biggest resistance to this comes from people that stand to make a buck out of it. I think there’s just a lack of courage within our political leader at the moment; there’s just a total lack of courage to take on hard issues and this is regarded as a hard issue.”