Premier’s bloody-mindedness on pill testing will cost young people’s lives this summer: Greens.

7 Sep 2023

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The Victorian Greens have lashed out at the Andrews government’s continued stonewalling of the irrefutable scientific evidence supporting pill-testing, warning that a health system that continues to operate ‘half-blind’ to the dangers of synthetic party drugs is likely to cost lives this summer.

The Greens’ comments come as another Victorian Coroner has called for the establishment of a Victorian drug-checking service yesterday– the fourth such call from a coroner who collectively have investigated eight drug-related deaths of people aged 17 to 30 since 2021.

Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Drug Harm Reduction, Aiv Puglielli, said that it is unacceptable that the Premier appeared to be sticking to his blanket refusal to implement pill testing, first made in 2017, when Victorian coroners were now repeatedly warning of the growth of synthetic cathinones that can easily be detected by drug checking.

“The Premier is relying on supposed advice he’s received from Victoria Police in opposition to pill testing from five years ago, when even Victoria Police themselves appear to have updated their position to recognise the drug problem primarily needs a public health-led response.”

Mr Puglielli, who is currently in the ACT inspecting their fixed-site and festival drug checking services, says that the only possible reason for not supporting pill testing now could be blooded-minded politics, given the overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of the services in the ACT.

What I am seeing here in the ACT is irrefutable evidence that the only way to get kids not to take the drugs they have, is to give them the knowledge about what’s in them. Kids here are literally throwing away drugs in secure bins because they know they are very likely to cause them harm.”

The Greens have previously twice introduced legislation for pill testing trials in the Victorian Parliament, as well as attempting to amend the Public Health and Wellbeing Act in 2022 to require Victoria Police to share its drug testing results with the Department of Health.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Drug Harm Reduction, Aiv Puglielli:

“The Greens have always supported pill testing, because we know it saves lives. 

“We’ve introduced legislation and amendments to establish pill testing and early warning health alert systems on three separate occasions, while the Labor government is making increasingly flimsy excuses not to act.

How many more people have to die before the Labor government finally decides to do something about it?”

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