ACT health minister expects to consider pill testing for Groovin the Moo

ACT health minister expects to consider pill testing for Groovin the Moo

The ACT government would consider allowing pill testing at Groovin the Moo next year, after Spilt Milk festival pulled out of a trial last month

Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said she expected the consortium behind the proposed trial at Spilt Milk, STA-SAFE, would approach the government about trialling pill testing at Groovin the Moo in May 2018.



Photo: Viki Yemettas

But she said she "hadn't gone through the thinking yet" about whether she would have a different view on the trial considering Groovin the Moo is an all ages event.

The ACT government in September approved the Australia-first pill testing trial, with the support of ACT Policing, for next week's Spilt Milk festival.

But festival organisers pulled out last month, saying STA-SAFE had not produced the documents needed in their application to hold the festival on federal land.


STA-SAFE said phone calls to the National Capital Authority, which governs federal land, for more information about which documents to provide, fell on deaf ears.

Advocates blamed federal government intervention for the failure of the trial to go ahead.

"We expect that STA-SAFE will comeback to us," Ms Fitzharris told an annual report hearing.

"We expect that STA-SAFE will probably come back and say 'we would like to work with Groovin the Moo next year, does the government's position still stand?' and we would consider any subsequent position from then."

Opposition health spokeswoman Vicki Dunne asked Ms Fitzharris whether, before approving the trial at Spilt Milk, the government considered changing or suspending laws around drug possession.

Ms Fitzharris said based on internal legal advice from solicitor's office she did not believe legislative changes were necessary, rather it came down to a question of enforcement by ACT policing.

"I am quite surprised we could do it under the current provisions of possession," Ms Dunne said.

"How do we get around that?"

Ms Fitzharris told the hearing "she understood" there had been some level of communication with the NCA about pill testing prior to the announcement the ACT would allow it.

However she did not raise it with the federal health minister until after the announcement was made.

The ACT government in April rejected a bid to run a pill testing trial at Groovin the Moo after "careful consideration".

It said at the time a significant amount of work would be required for the trial to go ahead in the future.

Daniella White is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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