New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has vowed to shut down the decade-old Defqon.1 music festival after the deaths of two young people at the most recent Sydney event.
"I don't want any family to go through the tragedy that some families are waking up to this morning," Berejiklian said on Sunday, calling the festival an "unsafe event".
A further three people were placed in intensive care during Saturday's Defqon.1. Seven hundred people sought medical attention during the festival and 18 were hospitalised.Karen
Defqon.1 director Karen Griffin issued a statement on Sunday saying the festival had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to drug use. "We are disappointed at the number of reported drug-related incidents," she said.
Police arrested up to 69 people during the event, with 10 of those people arrested for supply. Two 17-year-old girls were found by police in possession of 120 tablets.
"We do everything we possibly can to make these events safe. What we can't do is be in people's heads and be in people's decision-making processes when they decide to take illicit drugs," said NSW Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Allan Sicard.
The Defqon.1 deaths have restarted the nation's festival pill-testing debate.
Matt Noffs, CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation, has been championing the need for pill testing at musical festivals for years. On Sunday, he asked how many Australians would have to die for politicians to agree with the concept.
In a column in the Sydney Morning Herald, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Alex Wodak asked the same question, pointing towards examples in Europe where police publicly support pill testing.
"The simple question ministers should ask themselves is 'would they prefer their own children to attend a youth music event where pill testing was available or unavailable?'" he wrote.
"If they would want their own children to attend only a music dance event where pill testing was available, then they should allow the same protection for the rest of the community."
Australia's first legal pill testing operation was set up in April this year at Canberra's Groovin the Moo festival. Health professionals found two deadly samples during the day-long event and tested 85 substances.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
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