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Ambulance Union boss defends pill testing plan

The Ambulance Union boss denies a new festival pill testing plan would encourage drug use.

Under the plan, put forward by paramedics, police would confiscate drugs at music festivals before passing them over to an industrial chemist for testing.

Secretary of the Victorian Ambulance Union Danny Hill said revellers would then receive real-time warning alerts on their phones.

“Saying that the ‘dutch red lion’ drug or the ‘red mitsubishi’ drug contains strychnine, or contains pesticide, or contains industrial solvent, don’t take them because they can kill you,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“Hopefully they make a smarter decision before they take the drug.”

Mr Hill denies the plan would encourage young people to take drugs.

“We’ve all heard the mantra drugs are illegal … drugs are bad but people are still taking them, so how do we get the message through to them in a way that actually makes them stop.”

Mr Hill suggested festival organisers would foot the bill for testing, but a trial is in the public interest.

“Surely the Victorian taxpayer is not going to pay for that.”

– Ross Stevenson

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The idea may hit resistance from the police.

Head of the Police Association Wayne Gatt told Neil Mitchell there are some challenges.

“You know our position, we’re not supportive of drug testing,” he said.

President of Liberty Victoria Jessie Taylor has thrown her support behind the proposal, telling Neil Mitchell there’s widespread support for drug testing.

“Pretty much everyone except politicians agrees that pill testing is a good idea,” she said.

Ms Taylor says young people don’t deserve to die for making one bad decision.

“If there is something that we can do to minimise the likelihood of huge harm being done then why aren’t we doing it?” she said.

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