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Question Time: Pill Testing

On Thursday 28 February 2019, Michael asked the Health Minister whether the government will introduce pill testing in Queensland. 

You can read the question below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard)or watch it HERE.

Mr BERKMAN: My question is to the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services. I refer to the resounding success of the ACT’s pill-testing pilot, which recommends pill testing at festivals and fixed locations and reflects growing recognition in the community that a ‘just say no’ approach to drugs is costing Queenslanders’ lives. Given this success and the growing community support for a harm reduction approach to drug regulation, when will the Queensland government follow suit and introduce pill testing as part of a broader harm reduction strategy in Queensland?

Dr MILES: I thank the member for Maiwar for his question. It is an important one, particularly in light of six recent deaths at festivals as a result of poisonous pills, including one young Queensland boy from the member for Cooper’s electorate. I know that she recently met with his family to discuss this and other issues.

I have been in constant contact with the ACT health minister, as they have trialled pill testing at Groovin the Moo, a festival held in the ACT and also in Townsville. The member is correct in saying that the initial report of that testing trial was quite positive, although the ACT has determined that it needs to repeat that trial at the next Groovin the Moo festival to be held in April. It is their intention to report on that second trial at the COAG Health Council meeting subsequent to that festival.

It is my view that the best outcome would be a nationally consistent one. Festivals like Groovin the Moo do not occur in just one state or territory; they travel around. Of course, festivalgoers travel around too, evidenced by the fact that it was a young Queenslander who lost their life at a New South Wales festival. I look forward to seeing the outcome of that second trial and the discussion with other ministers at the COAG Health Council. Our preference would be for there to be a nationally consistent outcome for festivalgoers who travel to other states and festivals which travel to other states.

Ms Jones interjected.

Dr MILES: I take that interjection from the member for Cooper. Even if it is determined that pill testing is part of the solution, it is only part of the solution. There is a wide range of measures that can and should be considered to keep festivalgoers—our children—safe when they go to festivals. I would like to see the full breadth of measures considered to keep young people safe and to minimise harm. Again, my preference would be that that happen at a national level, but if it cannot happen at a national level then we will certainly have that discussion at a state level once we see how the second phase of the pill testing trial in the ACT proceeds in April.

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