Radio presenter Ray Hadley has come out strongly in favour of pill testing of drugs at music festivals to see what substances they contain, warning revellers will die without it.
On Monday, a contingent of 20 drug safety advocates in the medical, legal and welfare fields petitioned NSW Premier Chris Minns to trial drug-checking services during this summer’s festival season.
In 2019, the NSW coroner Harriet Grahame called for the introduction of pill testing in the state – which was dismissed out of hand by then-Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Hadley on Tuesday told his Radio 2GB listeners that Minns was ‘between a rock and a hard place’ on pill testing, but that ‘if children die at these festivals, people are going to hold you responsible.
‘I know it’s not directly your fault, but that’s what’s going to be said.’
Radio presenter Ray Hadley (pictured) has unexpectedly come out strongly in favour of the pill testing of drugs to see what substances they contain at music festivals
Hadley said Mr Minns is ‘flying in the face of expert opinion.
Hadley claimed the Premier is delaying making a decision on drug testing because Labor is in power despite having a minority in both the NSW lower and upper houses of parliament, and need other parties’ backing to pass any legislation.
‘And you can’t afford to offend those from the far left who hate pill testing, or even those in your own party from the left, who hate pill testing,’ he said.
‘You’ve got really responsible people from the health industry saying you must do it, and you’re saying “No, we’re going to have this summit”.
‘Well what happens if one, two, three or four young people die over the summer at the festivals as the result of not testing?
‘You’re saying the coppers will have sniffer dogs there, they’ll do this, they’ll do that,’ he said.
‘The pill testing works, it’s been shown in the past, and you’re going to be a party to saying no to the pill testing.
‘Not a good look, Premier, not a good luck.’
Nadine Ezard, director of the National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs, has called for immediate action on pill testing or ‘we will see more overdoses this summer’.
‘We’re also starting to see some worrying trends in some of the stimulant drugs that might be used at festivals and parties, and some of them include opioids (that turn out) to be a completely unexpected drug,’ she said.
‘People are purchasing on a completely unregulated market and it could be anything.
‘Drug checking might at least change that balance a little bit so you know a bit more about what’s in that substance.’
On Monday, a contingent of 20 drug safety advocates in the medical, legal and welfare fields petitioned NSW Premier Chris Minns to trial drug-checking services. A police officer and a sniffer dog are pictured testing for drugs at a music festival in Sydney
Hadley backed the medical and legal experts, quoting Professor Alison Ritter, the director of the UNSW drug policy modelling program, who said just because party drugs such as ecstasy might not be cut with other substances, doesn’t meant the drug is safe.
‘With MDMA (ecstasy), there are issues with overheating, staying hydrated (and) not overhydrated.’
The radio host said Mr Minns had ‘rejected calls to set up a pill testing pilot in time for the summer festival period.
‘He said he would not be making the decision on pill testing until his planned drug summit, which is not likely to occur before the end of the first term,’ he said.
Hadley’s son, Daniel, was arrested and charged with cocaine possession five years ago. The charge was dismissed on mental health grounds.