It’s one of the most divisive – yet important – issues in Australia right now, so it’s no surprise pill testing was a hotly debated topic on The Project last night.
The proposal to introduce pill testing comes after a devastating number of drug-related deaths at music festivals, and last night, panellists Steve Price and Peter Helliar were in opposing positions on the matter.
Price, who is wholly against making testing kits available to drug users at festivals, was vastly critical of Greens MP Cate Faehrmann during the politician’s appearance on The Project.
The segment came after Ms Faehrmann confessed in an opinion piece published by The Sydney Morning Herald to taking ecstasy or MDMA in her 20s.
She is of the stance that the state government’s zero-tolerance approach on illicit drug use is costing young people their lives, and is urging fellow politicians to reconsider their stance on pill testing.
Ms Faehrmann said the Australian youth wanted politicians to “get real” about illegal drugs – to accept that given the tragic circumstances of late, illegal drugs should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal one.
“In my 20s, I went to dance parties, I took MDMA… I’m not saying that everybody should do it but I’m saying let’s be real – a lot of people are.”
— The Project (@theprojecttv) January 21, 2019
“You don’t even want sniffer dogs outside the gate, surely those sniffer dogs are saving people’s lives, that’s a dumb idea,” Price said during the discussion.
He went on to say it was better for young people to be “freaked out than die”.
Helliar took no time in confronting Price over his opinion that revellers should be “freaked out” by police at music events.
“Pricey the problem with what you’re saying with it being better to freak the kids out than let them die is that they are freaking out by seeing these sniffer dogs, then they’re taking the drugs,” Helliar said.
“So the freaking out and dying is going hand-in-hand.”
“Well if you don’t take the drugs you don’t die,” Price rebutted.
“Well we all agree on that,” a frustrated Helliar replied.
Then, both men began to raise their voices and talk over the top of each other to argue their points.
Price, a right-wing conservative, claimed money would be better spent on wide-spread drug awareness ad campaigns, an opinion of which Helliar was highly damning.
“You’ve got the Nancy Reagan policy that hasn’t worked since the 80s,” he said.
“I’ve got no idea about Nancy Reagan, I’m just telling you … I’m not going to change my mind, but you can yell at me all you like,” Price hit back.