A Victorian MP is throwing a pro-pill testing rave

A Victorian political party is throwing a rave to gather support for pill testing. Source: SBS

The event comes just before Victorians head to a state election and the pill testing debate rages around the country.

A Victorian state MP is throwing a rave party to gather support for pill testing at music festivals and gigs.

Fiona Patten’s Reason Party (formally the Sex Party) wants to install drug checking facilities at music festivals and other events as part of its drug policy it claims is “founded on early treatment and harm reduction”.

Pill testing is a harm-minimisation strategy allowing people to find out what exactly is in the drugs they intend to take.

“We already know there is a lot of support from young people for pill testing, but we hope this rave will generate even greater support to show the greater political parties this is something people want,” Ms Patten told SBS News.

The event, scheduled on November 9 in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, falls a fortnight before Victoria’s state election.

Ms Patten - who has been a member of Victoria’s parliament since 2014 - said pill testing kits will be distributed at the event, but stressed there would be no actual pill testing.

The party will be DJ-ed by musicians who support pill testing, she said.

“When people think of political events during election times they think of some pretty cheesy music, so we thought that we would go for something a bit more modern," she said.

“We have also just had Victoria’s parliamentary budget office get back to us with costings for running pill testing at festivals over the next two years. We’re looking at less than 400,000 dollars and that could save multiples lives.”

Fiona Patten says there is a lot of support for pill testing from young people.
Fiona Patten says there is a lot of support for pill testing from young people.
AAP

To test or not to test?

While pill testing has gathered solid support from the minor political parties and independents, others are not convinced.

Most opposed to pill testing claim the practice encourages dangerous drug taking.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a zero-tolerance policy on drug taking at music festivals after two people died of suspected overdoses at the Defqon.1 festival in September.

Ms Berejiklian has proposed laws to jail dealers for up to 25 years if people who buy drugs off them subsequently die, bringing the criminal penalty in line with grievous bodily harm and manslaughter charges.

A number of senior federal cabinet ministers, including Health Minister Greg Hunt and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton have also expressed opposition to pill testing. 

The Australian Medical Association and The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre's (NDARC) are among non-government bodies to have backed introducing some form of pill testing.

The NDARC’s 2018 Drug Trends report found, of the 799 Australian drug users it surveyed, one in five reported using capsules with unknown contents in the six months preceding the survey.

Pill testing advocates had been working to get pill testing approved for Spilt Milk after Canberra hosted Australia's first trial at the Groovin the Moo festival in April. However, there won't be pill testing at the Spilt Milk festival. 

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