Pill testing trial rejected by Member for Orange Phil Donato

SAFETY FEARS: A call to trial the testing of illegal drugs at music festivals has split opinions in the Orange region. FILE PHOTO
SAFETY FEARS: A call to trial the testing of illegal drugs at music festivals has split opinions in the Orange region. FILE PHOTO

Member for Orange Phil Donato has rejected calls to introduce a trial to test the ingredients of pills at music festivals.

The concept of a trial was raised following recent deaths and hospitalisations from drug overdoses and has the support of Lifeline Central West centre supervisor Jodie Williams who said there is plenty of evidence to suggest that pill testing saves lives.

“They’ve been doing it in Europe for over 10 years, and the evidence overwhelmingly proves that people choose not to take a drug if they find the contents do not match what they’ve bought,” Ms Williams said.

Ms Williams, who is also a drug and alcohol councilor at Orange’s Lyndon Withdrawal Unit, is passionate about programs that minimise the harm of illicit drugs.

It’s not just regular drug users taking these substances, it’s our kids, our adolescents, people you wouldn’t assume are the kind to take drugs.

Lifeline Central West centre supervisor Jodie Williams

"Many people assume that those who take drugs at festivals are habitual users,” she said.

“It’s not just regular drug users taking these substances, it’s our kids, our adolescents, people you wouldn’t assume are the kind to take drugs.”

However, Mr Donato who represents the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, said “no illegal pill is a safe pill”. 

“The pills are are illicit drugs cooked up by criminals in dodgy, dirty, back yard clandestine laboratories with all sorts of chemicals, illegal drugs and cutting agents,” Mr Donato said.

WON'T WORK: Member for Orange Phil Donato from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party does not support the idea of a pill testing trial. FILE PHOTO

WON'T WORK: Member for Orange Phil Donato from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party does not support the idea of a pill testing trial. FILE PHOTO

“They are not made in a sterile laboratory by accredited and trained pharmacists using measured and approved ingredients.

“They are made by criminals who have no care or concern of its impact on the user. These criminals are only driven by greed and profit.”

Mr Donato said a user would have no idea of the contents or effects it would have upon them when they decide to take a pill “to have a good time.”

“By endorsing pill testing the government [would be] sanctioning the use of an illegal, prohibited substance that not only could be potentially lethal but encourages and promotes it,” Mr Donato said.

By endorsing pill testing the government [would be] sanctioning the use of an illegal, prohibited substance that not only could be potentially lethal but encourages and promotes it.

Member for Orange Phil Donato

“What happens then when someone dies or has a serious health problem following ingestion? Who then is responsible? This will still happen. 

“These drugs effect everyone differently depending on their gender, age, build, pre-existing allergies, other medications they may be taking and many other biological factors.”

Mr Donato said proper pharmaceutical methods of pill testing also take many hours not a few minutes at a festival.

“I do not believe that pill testing at these events will have the desired affect,” he said.

“People will still be harmed.

“As a parent of course I worry about this, but ultimately people and our young people especially need to be informed and responsible for their own actions.”

Mr Donato said every illegal pill could be lethal or cause serious medical, mental or long term psychotic conditions.

“I think that the organisers need to do more.They have a duty of care to their patrons,” he said. 

“Things such as employing more police/security on a user pay basis with sniffer dogs. More signage, warning and education along with a campaign of awareness that these pills are potentially lethal.

“By allowing pill testing and saying it’s OK to take illegal pills is not the answer.”