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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Pill testing, light rail on the cards for GTM

Tickets for this year’s Groovin the Moo(GTM) music festival went on sale last week for shows around the country, amid the nationwide pill-testing debate.

With a spate of drug-related deaths at NSW music festivals in recent months – five young people have died since September 2018 – the debate continues, with the NSW Liberal Government and Premier Gladys Berejiklian opposing pill testing for festivals in the state.

Last year’s Canberra leg of GTM saw Australia’s first and only pill testing trial take place. Hailed as a “success”, the trial saw around 130 people use the service, with two potentially fatal substances detected for the first time in the ACT.

GTM will be held this year at Exhibition Park in Canberra for the first time, after last year’s announcement that it would move from the University of Canberra campus where it had been held since 2010.

The ACT Government is yet to confirm whether a second pill testing trial will be held at this year’s festival at EPIC, but a spokesperson for Acting Minister for Health and Wellbeing Shane Rattenbury said a trial is being considered.

“For any pill testing service to go ahead at a music festival, the support of both the promoter and the land owner are required. The Government, as the landowner of EPIC, is currently considering a proposal from Pill Testing Australia for a second pill testing trial to be conducted at the festival in April. We will make further announcements about this prior to the festival,” the spokesperson said.

Pill Testing Australia (formerly known as the STA-SAFE consortium) conducted last year’s trial.

The NSW Government has implemented more medical professionals across festivals in the state, with critical care experts on hand to provide faster responses to drug-related incidents. The spokesperson for Minister Rattenbury said the ACT Government is “considering the options for increasing the range and availability of medical staff at the festival”.

GTM will be held in six regional centres around the country in April and May, with the Canberra leg on Sunday 28 April.

As for public transport to the event, spokesperson from Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris’ office said while the exact start date for the light rail service is yet to be determined, it is expected to be running by late April.

“Our new bus network is due to begin on 27 April, and light rail is expected to be running by this time. Transport Canberra will ensure public transport is available to and from the event,” the spokesperson said.

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