Festivals threatened with closure if overdoses continue
MUSIC festivals have been threatened with closure unless they bring down the number of attendees overdosing on drugs.
New South Wales Police Minister Troy Grant has warned organisers the government would shut down festivals that failed to meet their duty of care to patrons.
"As a police officer, there is nothing worse than knocking on a door to tell a parent their child has died by way of taking a drug," he posted on Facebook.
"These drugs are a crazy cocktail of deplorable substances and there is no way to know, no testing to determine, just how it will impact you.
"You are playing Russian roulette with your life."
His comments came after a 23-year-old woman was rushed to hospital in a critical condition after an alleged MDMA overdose at Field Day in Sydney on New Year's Day.
They also follow the deaths of 19-year-old Stefan Woodward and Sylvia Choi, 25, at the Adelaide and Sydney legs of the Stereosonic electronic music festival last month.
Australian Medical Association president Professor Brian Owler called on event organisers to ensure partygoers had easy access to free drinking water, shade, "chill out" zones and adequate first aid services.
"Taking illicit substances is a dangerous activity, and tragically we have seen the consequences when someone takes a pill, powder, or liquid without knowing the active ingredients," he said.
Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi said the government was kidding itself if it reacted to drug overdoses by cracking down on festival organisers.
"Calling on the festivals to get their houses in order will be a completely futile exercise, when the government is preventing harm reduction measures that will save lives such as pill testing," she said.
"The old saying goes that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
"Clearly the current 'war on drugs' approach is not working."
Kim Moyes of Sydney dance music veterans The Presets said he felt for the friends and families of overdose victims, but targeting festival organisers was a "nuts" approach.
"Threatening to shut down NSW music festivals and blaming the organizers for the choices of the attendees? Nuts," he posted on Facebook.
"Tragically, 10 people have been killed on NSW roads between December 20 and January 2, which has been reported as a 'good result' in relation to the previous year's road death tolls.
"I don't want to trivialise their deaths but no government is threatening to shut down transport.
"NSW is starting to become a little hard to swallow."