NSW Government Dismiss Pill Testing Calls Again After Dance Festival Death & Overdoses

10 December 2018 | 9:26 am | Staff Writer

A 19-year-old male has died from a suspected drug overdose.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has refused to budge on calls for pill testings following the death of a 19-year-old male at a dance festival in Sydney on Saturday. 

NSW Police confirmed that the man died from a suspected drug overdose at the ‘Knockout Games of Destiny' dance party held at Sydney Olympic Park, while three more remain in a critical condition in hospital. 

Police reported an additional 13 people were taken to hospital and a further 130 people sought medical treatment during the event.

Appearing on The Today Show this morning, Berejiklian addressed the events from Saturday.

“It’s a human tragedy, young lives lost – wasted – and I can only imagine what that young man’s family is going through this morning,” Berejiklian said.

“That’s why after the recent death just a few months ago, we brought in some pretty substantial changes including extra penalties for those supplying these drugs, but also for the way in which these concerts are managed,.

“We want young people to have fun, we want them to enjoy themselves, but we also want them to be safe,” said Ms Berejiklian.

When pressed about pill testing, Berejiklian reaffirmed the NSW Government's stance against the idea. 

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"If we thought [pill testing] would save a single life of course we'd go down that path, but unfortunately what pill testing doesn't do is really take into account people's different physical attributes," Berejiklian said.

"What is safe for one person, isn't safe for another..." 

She continued, "I would hate to think that that culture of taking illegal drugs is one which is normalised and one where pill testing is seen to be the absolute end to fixing this problem.

"The strongest thing we can do is send a message to young people: Please don't take any illegal substance. It can seriously cause you injury for the rest of your life, or worse, kill you."

It comes after Ted Noffs Foundation Campaigns & Policy Coordinator Shelley Smith took aim at government for refusing to look at the evidence from pill testing conducted at Groovin The Moo this year in an exclusive piece written for The Music. 

"How can our politicians continue to ignore both science and the electorate, when there have been far too many deaths?" Smith wrote.

"We’ve established that we can prevent harm at music festivals, so why do governments continue to bury their heads in the sand?"

Read the full piece here.