The Senate has passed a motion calling for pill testing and the removal of festival sniffer dogs
The issue of Australia’s badly broken drug laws is set to receive more attention, after the Greens successfully passed a motion through the Senate calling for the introduction of pill testing and an end to the use of sniffer dogs at music festivals. But maybe don’t start celebrating just yet.
The motion, which was introduced on Wednesday and passed without objection from either major party, called for an number of harm reduction measures, including “needle and syringe programs”, “supervised injecting rooms” and “pill testing” as well as an end to the use of drug sniffer dogs at festivals.
“We know that [dogs] frighten people into taking their drugs in one hit and are contributing to overdoses rather than preventing them,” Greens leader Richard Di Natalie wrote in The Guardian earlier this year, adding that “a government’s responsibility is to keep our young people safe.”
But while the motion passing the Senate is an encouraging first step, any meaningful change will likely require the cooperation of the state governments, which unfortunately is pretty unlikely. NSW Premier Mike Baird has previously dismissed the concept of pill testing as “ridiculous”, while Tasmanian Police Minister Rene Hidding called it “quality assurance for drug pushers” – despite the fact that Tasmania’s police association came out in support of just such a proposal.
There has previously been some suggestion that pill testing could take place at festivals this summer, with advocates willing to risk arrest in order to ensure such a program is available.
“I’m pleased the Senate has agreed that the Federal Government should act,” said Di Natalie of the recent Senate motion. “Now it’s time for Liberal and Labor governments to back these measures in every state and territory.”