‘So drugged-up they’d pick up pills out of vomit’

The state's police minister has backed a push to introduce so-called drug "amnesty bins" at music festivals, saying the government "needs to do whatever we can to take drugs out of the hands of our kids".

The idea was first floated this week by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller who said the special drug disposal bins could be provided outside festival gates to allow patrons to ditch their pills before reaching sniffer dogs.

Before he was police minister, David Elliott supported St John Ambulance at dance parties and festivals during the early 2000s and said it was not uncommon for helpers to turn a "blind eye" when revellers would drop their drugs in bins or sharps containers.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott says the government “needs to do whatever we can to take drugs out of the hands of our kids”. Picture: AAP
NSW Police Minister David Elliott says the government “needs to do whatever we can to take drugs out of the hands of our kids”. Picture: AAP

"We wouldn't judge them, we'd just let them do it because the main objective for everybody on both sides of the argument is always to get drugs out of kids' hands," he said.

"I also saw kids vomiting from an overdose and their compatriots were so drugged-up they'd pick up pills out of the vomit and have them again."

"It was awful - it just proved to me when kids are under the influence of these drugs they'd do anything."

Mr Elliott said the government believes amnesty bins is "something we should move forward with" but conceded it is not a "silver bullet solution".

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is also supportive of the proposal, describing it yesterday as a "really good idea".

"We want to do everything we can to get the message out that we want young people to think twice before they take something that can kill them," she added.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has backed having drug amensty bins outside festival gates. Picture: Gaye Gerard
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has backed having drug amensty bins outside festival gates. Picture: Gaye Gerard

But the Premier again refused to budge from her opposition to pill testing following the suspected drug death of 24-year-old Victorian man Glenn Mcrae at the Strawberry Fields festival at Tocumwal, in the state's Riverina region, over the weekend.

"We actually believe (pill testing) could cause more deaths by giving people a false sense of security," Ms Berejiklian said yesterday.

NSW Health confirmed three other patients from the Strawberry Fields festival were taken to hospital by ambulance - two received "high level emergency care" onsite.

"Drugs were likely to be a factor in at least one of the three cases," a spokeswoman said.

More than 95 people were charged with drug offences including a man allegedly carrying 75 MDMA tablets, speed and cocaine.

More than 95 people were charged with drug offences at the Strawberry Fields Music Festival. Picture: Instagram/Stavroz
More than 95 people were charged with drug offences at the Strawberry Fields Music Festival. Picture: Instagram/Stavroz

Meanwhile at Sydney's Festival X - also held over the weekend - 14 patients were taken to hospital by ambulance.

Of those, 10 were treated in relation to a suspected drug overdose while five received emergency care.

Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame, who investigated the deaths of six young people who died after taking MDMA at NSW music festivals in the 13-month period leading up to January 2019, is also supportive of drug amnesty bins.

In a major report handed down last month, Ms Grahame recommended the introduction of pill testing at festivals, scrapping the use of sniffer dogs and a drug summit to consider decriminalising the personal use of illicit drugs.

She said that if personal possession remains a criminal offence then amnesty bins should be provided at festivals.



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