Spilt Milk pulls out of Australia's first pill testing trial
The first trial of pill testing at an Australian music festival will no longer go ahead after Spilt Milk organisers pulled out with six weeks to go.
The trial was approved by the ACT Government in late September following months of negotiations with the Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE).
Ryan Phillips, Director of Kicks Entertainment, told Hack STA-SAFE had not provided the relevant "documentation" for the festival, which is to be held on November 25.
STA-SAFE denies this was the case and says Spilt Milk's announcement was a surprise.
"It comes down to STA-SAFE," Ryan said.
"They need more time to provide documentation, insurance, legal framework to operate on federal land."
Spilt Milk needed a festival licence from the National Capital Authority, a body that manages planning and deve lopment of Commonwealth land in Canberra.
In August, ACT Shadow Minister for Health, Vicki Dunne, told Parliament:
"The Spilt Milk festival is at Commonwealth Park, which is on Commonwealth land. Pill testing will need Commonwealth Government approval, and I doubt that they will give it.
"[Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris] can feel free to blame the Commonwealth whilst being silently thankful that she did not have to deliver on pill testing.
Ryan said he could not put the rest of the festival at risk by waiting any longer.
Asked why he had announced pill testing if he couldn't get it sorted in time, Ryan said the initial announcement had come from the ACT Government.
"We came from behind them, following their lead," he said.
"We're advocating for it."
He said he still wanted pill testing to happen at Spilt Milk in 2018.
"We're hugely disappointed, but I'd be more disappoi nted if we do it wrong and have a trial that's not successful and this doesn't make a difference in Australia.
It's not our fault: STA-SAFE
STA-SAFE is a consortium of pill testing advocates including Harm Reduction Australia, Students for Sensible Drug Policies, and Dr David Caldicott, from the Australian Drug Observatory.
Dr Caldicott denied STA-SAFE had been slow with providing documents to Spilt Milk or any other organisation or agency.
"As far as I know we provided all documentation necessary," he told Hack today.
"We haven't been consulted, we really don't know what this is all about.
"If he would like to contact us we would be delighted."
We still support pill testing: ACT Gov
Acting Minister for Health Shane Rattenbury told ABC Radio Canberra this morning he'd heard rumours and was concerned that pill testing wouldn't go ahead.
However, he said the G overnment had "made all the right steps".
"The ACT Government has approved pill testing and believes that's it's a valuable harm minimisation measure," he said.
"We've got a consortium called STA-SAFE, made up of a medical team, with all the right skills, who are willing to undertake it.
"We put the arrangements in place with various such government authorities such as as ACT policing."
He said ACT police had been heavily involved in discussion about government approval and "recognise it as a harm minimisation strategy".Source: Google News