Helliar, Price clash over pill testing
Steve Price and Peter Helliar have clashed once again on The Project, this time sparring over a proposal to introduce pill testing after a spate of drug-related deaths at festivals.
Price, who is against making testing kits available, blasted Greens MP Cate Faehrmann's stance that they should be available during the politician's Monday night appearance on The Project.
Ms Faehrmann confessed in an opinion piece published by The Sydney Morning Heraldto taking ecstasy or MDMA occasionally since her 20s.
She also took aim at the state government's stance on illicit drug use, saying its zero-tolerance approach was costing people their lives.
Ms Faehrmann, 48, said young people wanted politicians to "get real" about illegal drugs and to accept evidence that illegal drugs should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal one.
"You don't even want sniffer dogs outside the gate, surely those sniffer dogs are saving people's lives, that's a dumb idea," Price said on Monday, adding that it was better for young people to be "freaked out than die".
After the segment with Ms Faehrmann Helliar took Price to task over his stance that young people should be "freaked out" by police at music events.
"Pricey the problem with what you're saying with it being better to freak the kids out than let them die is that they are freaking out by seeing these sniffer dogs, then they're taking the drugs," Helliar said.
"So the freaking out and dying is going hand-in-hand."
"Well if you don't take the drugs you don't die," Price snapped back.
"Well we all agree on that," a frustrated Helliar replied, with both men then proceeding to raise their voices and talk over the top of each other as they argued their opposing views.
Price claimed that the money would be better spent on a drug awareness ad campaign while Helliar slammed the radio host's views as outdated.
"You've got the Nancy Reagan policy that hasn't worked since the 80s," Helliar said.
"I've got no idea about Nancy Reagan, I'm just telling you … I'm not going to change my mind, but you can yell at me all you like," Price retorted back.
Price's stance didn't go down well with viewers on Twitter, with most people slamming the talk back radio host for being "ignorant and stuck in the past".
Despite this Price isn't the only one to criticise Ms Faehrmann's admission, with NSW health minister Brad Hazzard describing it as "reckless at best".
"She seemed to be saying that because she had taken it, it was OK for other people to take it; I think that is a really, really bad message for young people," Mr Hazzard told AAP.
"Sadly some young people do take drugs but I think Ms Faehrmann's op-ed piece in a major newspaper was at best reckless."
Mr Hazzard also revealed that MDMA itself was linked directly to the death of four of the five people to have died at NSW festivals since September. "I've had advice from NSW Health that four of the five young people who passed away died because of a direct link with MDMA being in their body," Mr Hazzard said.
"The fifth young lady that passed away, the early clinical evidence is that it was also MDMA."
Ms Faehrmann described Mr Hazzard's criticism as "ridiculous nonsense," and said young people were crying out for politicians to "pull their heads out of the sand and acknowledge reality".
Meanwhile NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday morning stood by her government's zero-tolerance approach.
She told Nova radio pill testing could not guarantee the drug would not kill someone, even if it was pure MDMA, clashing with host Ryan 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald over the issue.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied having ever taken illegal drugs when asked, while federal opposition leader Bill Shorten said he might have "done something" during his university years.
The Project airs Sunday to Friday at 6.30pm on Network 10.