Spilt Milk pulls out of Australia-first pill testing trial

Spilt Milk pulls out of Australia-first pill testing trial

Spilt Milk pulls out of Australia-first pill testing trial

Updated 12 October 2017, 19:10 AEDT

Organisers say the pill testers haven't given them the relevant documents in time.

An Australia-first trial of pill testing at a music festival will no longer go ahead after Spilt Milk organisers pulled out six weeks before the event.

The trial was approved by the ACT Government in late September following months of negotiations with the Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE).

Ryan Phillips, Director of Kicks Entertainment, told Hack STA-SAFE had not provided the relevant "documentation" and he had run out of time.

STA-SAFE denies this was the case and says Spilt Milk's announcement was a surprise.

"It comes down to STA-SAFE," Ryan said.

"They need more time to provide documentation, insurance, legal framework to operate on federal land."

Spilt Milk needed a festival licence from the National Capital Authority, a body that manages planning and development of Commonwealth land in Canberra.

Ryan said he could not put the rest of the festival, to be held on November 25, at risk by waiting any longer.

Asked why he had announced pill testing if he couldn't get it sorted in time, Ryan said the initial announcement had come from the ACT Government.

"We came from behind them, following their lead," he said.

"We're advocating for it."

He said he still wanted pill testing to happen at Spilt Milk in 2018.

"We're hugely disappointed, but I'd be more disappointed if we do it wrong and have a trial that's not successful and this doesn't make a difference in Australia.

It's not our fault: STA-SAFE

STA-SAFE is a consortium of drug harm reduction advocates including Harm Reduction Australia, Students for Sensible Drug Policies, and Dr David Caldicott, from the Australian Drug Observatory.

Dr Caldicott denied STA-SAFE had been slow with providing documents to Spilt Milk or any other organisation or agency.

"As far as I know we provided all documentary necessary," he told Hack today.

"We haven't been consulted, we really don't know what this is all about.

"If he would like to contact us we would be delighted."

We still support pill testing: ACT Gov

Acting Minister for Health Shane Rattenbury told ABC Radio Canberra this morning he'd heard rumours and was concerned that pill testing wouldn't go ahead.

However, he said the Government had "made all the right steps".

"The ACT Government has approved pill testing and believes that's it's a valuable harm minimisation measure," he said.

"We've got a consortium called STA-SAFE, made up of a medical team, with all the right skills, who are willing to undertake it. We put the arrangements in place with various such government authorities such as as ACT policing."

He said ACT police had been heavily involved in discussion about government approval and "recognise it as a harm minimisation strategy".

Mr Rattenbury pointed out however, that drugs remain illegal.

"Police will continue to intervene outside the venue to intercept drugs but in the medical ten it is not an area they would patrol.