Health Minister Greg Hunt says the Morrison government will not reconsider its position on pill testing, while dodging questions about a Commonwealth agency's refusal to allow the service at an upcoming Canberra music festival.
Former AFP commissioner Mick Palmer was among those who signed a letter urging all Australian governments to look at pill testing at events where there's a risk of drug overdoses, after two people died after attending the Defqon.1 music festival in Western Sydney on the weekend.
The letter came after the National Capital Authority said there was no legal framework for pill-testing to happen at the Spilt Milk Festival at Commonwealth Park in November, and the federal government would not facilitate changes needed for the service to be offered.
This was despite a successful pill testing pilot at another Canberra festival earlier in the year, on land controlled by the ACT government.
"The government does not support decisions to use illicit drugs, and does not in-principle support pill testing, as it could imply that illicit drugs are safe," the NCA told Fairfax Media, and referred further questions about pill testing onto Mr Hunt.
However Mr Hunt's office dodged questions on whether the minister or a member of the Coalition government directed the National Capital Authority not to allow pill testing on federal land, handballing them back to the NCA.
“The National Capital Authority is responsible for matters that occur on Commonwealth land within the Parliamentary triangle and I refer you to them," a spokesperson for Mr Hunt said.
His office also would not answer whether the pill testing pilot in Canberra earlier in the year changed Mr Hunt's views on pill testing, or whether he was open to a discussion about it with the ACT's Chief Health Officer or members of the STA-Safe consortium.
"On the matter of pill testing, this is not Commonwealth policy and we have no plans to change this," the spokesperson said.
Canberra Liberals legal affairs spokesman Jeremy Hanson said he had not made any approaches to his federal counterparts since the letter he sent last year, alerting them to the pill testing trial planned for Spilt Milk 2017.
Liberal senator for the ACT Zed Seselja told ABC Radio the NCA was an independent body who made their own judgements, although he thought they'd made the right call.