Second-ever pill testing trial given green light
Pill testing will be given its second-ever trial at this weekend's Groovin The Moo festival in Canberra.
The green light for testing was given by the ACT Government to the regional touring event - the same festival which hosted the first trial.
At the first trial in Canberra 2018, Pill Testing Australia says 85 substances were tested and two potentially deadly substances were found, as well as nasty offshoots like paint and lactose.
The state government has also extended an invitation to state and territory health ministers from around Australia to witness the pill-testing process first-hand.
"We're gathering as much information and evidence as we possibly can through these trials to ensure this debate is an informed one," tweeted ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
"Our agenda here is to ensure that people are as safe as they can possibly be."
Pill testing is not supported by any state or territory government, or either major federal political party.
However, in New South Wales, a government inquiry into drug use in the state is set to examine the effectiveness of pill testing - despite the state government's opposition to the policy.
Yesterday, The Australian reported that the chief operating officer of a special inquiry into drug use, David McGrath, said expanding the terms of the inquiry gave it "an opportunity to look at substance-testing for those substances".
It comes as at least two more deaths were added to an upcoming inquest into several suspected drug-related fatalities at NSW music festivals.
The NSW Coroners Court on Tuesday heard the deaths of Anne Nguyen and Hoang Tran - who was known to his family as Nathan - will be included in the inquest which is expected to begin at the Lidcombe court in July.
Ms Nguyen died at the Dragon Dreaming Festival in October 2015 and Mr Tran died after attending Knockout Circuz in December 2017.
Their deaths will now be considered alongside those of five other young people - Joseph Nguyen Binh Pham, Diana Nguyen, Callum Brosnan, Alexandra Ross-King and Joshua Gerard Tam - at festivals between September 2018 and January 2019.
A directions hearing on Tuesday included representatives for the NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Police, the Australian Festivals Association and medical response services.
Counsel assisting the coroner Peggy Dwyer said a significant list of experts were willing to assist the inquest including Dr David Caldicott, general practitioner Hester Wilson, numerous pharmacologists, toxicologists and researchers.
Dr Caldicott, an emergency doctor, led Australia's first pill-testing trial at Canberra's Groovin the Moo in 2018.
Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame said "the events of Queensland on the weekend just underline how important it is to have this matter dealt with as soon as possible".
"This is a really, really tragic public health issue," she said.
On Monday, a 24-year-old man and 22-year-old woman had been found dead in their tent at Queensland's Rabbits Eat Lettuce Festival.
Police are still investigating the deaths but have said they were not suspicious.
A further directions hearing for the NSW inquest is expected to be held in Lidcombe on Friday, June 21.