The recent spate of drug-related deaths at music festivals has split Australia into two camps: those who think that pill testing and other harm minimisation policies need to be brought into play, and those who think that the long held policy of yelling YOU YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULDN’T TAKE DRUGS is about to start working despite half a century of evidence to the contrary.
This has become a big issue in NSW, in which five people have died in the last four months – most recently 19 year old Alex Ross-King – which other states have not experienced despite, in most cases, holding the exact same touring festivals. So the question “what is NSW doing which is killing young people in a way that other states are not?” seems like a good one to ask right about now.
And thus the nation awoke to the weird sight of David “Kochie” Koch on Sunrise talking sense to NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian about how pill testing has been a demonstrable success overseas, that the local trial in the ACT removed dangerous drugs and that whatever it is that the NSW government is currently doing is clearly not working
"You're not listening, they're kids"@Kochie_Online takes on NSW Premier @GladysB over her dismissal of pill testing, which experts say will prevent drug deaths at music festivals. pic.twitter.com/a67EG4uHwR
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) January 13, 2019
Berejiklian’s nah-let’s-not-do-that argument boiled down to that pill testing might stop people from taking tainted drugs but doesn’t stop being overdosing on all that deadly, deadly ecstasy. And to be fair, the fact that seatbelts don’t prevent all road fatalities is why we decided not to even have them in cars anymore oh hold on no we didn’t that’s insane.
The premier, who added that she’s never ever taken drugs in her life, explained that “The best message we can send to them is don’t take these drugs.”
That’s the best message, huh? And we’re limited to message-sending as a response to kids dying? Cool, good to know!
Just so we're all clear: please note that the "If it saves one child" reasoning is valid for a public child sex offenders register but *not* for pill testing.
— Jacqueline Maley (@JacquelineMaley) January 14, 2019
Kochie wasn’t having a bar of it though, pointing out that young people take drugs, calling her a hypocrite for adopting harm minimisation approaches to other drugs via safe injecting rooms and pointing out that at the very least pill testing stops young people ingesting deadly poison.
And sure, this is just a stoush on morning television – but it’s genuinely significant because if anyone represents the suburban middle-class Australian parent – the stereotypical Liberal voter, in fact – it’s Kochie. No-one would accuse him of being a dangerously Marxist rabble rouser massing morning television viewer to storm the Winter Palace.
Take note, Gladys. When you’ve lost Kochie, you’ve lost your heartland.