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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Pill testing on the cards again as GTM moves to EPIC

The Canberra leg of music festival Groovin the Moo (GTM) has been confirmed to continue, with the festival to be moved to Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) from next year. GTM has been held at the University of Canberra campus since 2010.

The move has once again sparked discussion around pill testing at the event, after a trial was carried out at the festival in Canberra earlier this year.

The ACT Greens have welcomed the move to EPIC. ACT Greens spokesperson for Drug Law Reform Shane Rattenbury said the 2019 festival is a “great opportunity to again realise a pill testing scheme here in the ACT, and keep more young lives safe”.

“The war on drugs has failed. ‘Just say no’ has failed to prevent young people from experiencing unnecessary harm from recreational drug use.”

Mr Rattenbury said he was pleased to hear “the Federal Government won’t be able to jeopardise pill testing at next year’s GTM”.

Canberra music festival, Spilt Milk, held at Commonwealth Park over the weekend, was unable to conduct a pill testing trial as the National Capital Authority (NCA) would not allow the a trial to go ahead on Commonwealth land.

“Had the [GTM] festival venue been on Commonwealth Government land, political interference may have provided a significant challenge. We are especially frustrated at the NCA’s reactionary approach to this issue in relation to Spilt Milk,” Mr Rattenbury said.

ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris confirmed the ACT Government had been approached by Pill Testing Australia (previously the STA-SAFE consortium) to conduct a second pill testing pilot during GTM at EPIC next year.

In a statement, Minister Fitzharris said having the festival at EPIC, an ACT Government-run venue, will make it easier for the Government to consider the proposal.

“The Government will re-convene the cross-government Pill Testing Working Group, led by ACT Health, to consider the proposal.

“Pill testing is about preventing and reducing the harms associated with drug use and has the potential to save lives.

“Wherever pill testing is offered, it is crucial that the right support services are made available and proximal to service users. This is what we will be looking at in considering Pill Testing Australia’s proposal,” the statement said.

At the time of going to print, the Canberra Liberals had not responded for a request for comment. Liberal Member for Murrumbidgee Jeremy Hanson MLA strongly opposed the pill testing trial at GTM earlier this year.

GTM 2019 will be held on Sunday 28 April at EPIC.

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