The Victorian Greens and Reason Party will make history tomorrow when they table a co-sponsored bill introducing a two-year pill testing pilot in Victoria.
This unprecedented show of cooperation marks the first time two parties have co-sponsored a bill in a single house in the 163-year history of the Victorian Parliament.
The Bill would establish a mobile pill testing service for major music festivals, as well as a fixed-site service for more detailed analysis year around. Both sites would be licensed for two years with the potential for a four-year extension following a review.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said the co-sponsorship would send a clear message to the Government that pill testing could be a reality in Victoria by 2020 with cross-party support.
“For the first time in the Victorian Parliament’s upper house we have parties uniting to bring forth law reform together,” Dr Ratnam said. “The Greens and the Reason Party are working as a unified front to see the establishment of a pill testing pilot in Victoria.
“When it comes to significant health reform, we know Victorians want to see politicians across the spectrum work together to achieve the best possible outcome.
“If the Government backs our pilot and it saves even one life next summer, it will be worth it.”
Reason Party Leader Fiona Patten said her party and The Greens were in lockstep on a pill testing trial.
“This shows how serious an issue our two parties and our supporters take this,” Ms Patten said. “This isn’t about politics, young people have been dying. We know this measure will not only save lives but actually reduce drug use by promoting some of the most valuable drug education a young person can get. It’s backed up by evidence so why on earth wouldn’t we do this?”
Ms Patten also noted that the co-sponsored bill was unique in that, not only was it a first for the Victorian upper house, but would be introduced by two female MPs who are both Leaders of their respective parties.
“I don’t think it is a coincidence that it has taken two women to bridge a political divide and work across the aisle for a true outcome for the community we deeply care about,” Ms Patten said. “It’s time for the Government to join us – we could use another co-sponsor on this. The Premier is welcome to call either of us.”
Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Health, Dr Tim Read, said a good Government would give young people information about their pills, rather than leaving them to suffer the consequences.
“For too long the Government has tried to police Victorians out of drug use, but we know that prohibition doesn’t work and only increases harm, while over 20 years of evidence shows pill testing protects people from the harm of illicit drug use,” Dr Read said.
A recent PBO costing obtained by the Greens found that the pilot would be inexpensive, costing only $3.8 million dollars over two years.