Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 380 ..
to open a static pill testing site, Minister, can you give an update to the Assembly on where this important initiative is up to?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Davis for his question. We did, indeed, in response to a motion in the Assembly, make a commitment that we would explore the establishment of a trial static pill testing site in the city. We continue to support an evidence-based harm minimisation approach to drug policy. Pill testing has been shown to be an effective tool in reducing the possible harms associated with drug taking.
The government has been exploring establishing a pill testing facility pilot in the city entertainment area during this summer and re-established the pill testing working group in order to do so. Following the initial work by the pill testing working group, which got to work pretty quickly after the Assembly resolution, it was clear that there were a range of logistical and legal issues that had to be worked through prior to the establishment of any pilot.
The government continues to work towards the introduction of a pilot fixed site pill testing service in 2021, building on the Australia-first success of the pill testing sites at trials at the Groovin the Moo festivals in 2018 and 2019. The ACT Health Directorate is working with relevant stakeholders, including ACT Policing and the ACT Government Analytical Laboratory to work through those logistical and legal issues prior to the commencement of any service.
I would note that ACT Policing has consistently shown a commitment to harm minimisation initiatives and has always actively engaged with the government and other stakeholders on pill testing measures. While there are a number of legal considerations to work through, ACT Policing is actively participating in these discussions about a potential pill testing facility in the city. The government is also working with Pill Testing Australia, who obviously are experts in this field and strong advocates. They are working to provide technical and logistical advice regarding the establishment of the pilot as soon as possible.
MR DAVIS: Minister, specifically what date, at the latest, can Canberrans expect the pilot project to commence?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Davis for the supplementary, but of course I am not able to provide a specific date because we do need to work through some of those logistical and legal issues—which, I would say, were flagged at the time that the Assembly passed its resolution. The commitment on the government’s part was to work to see if we could establish a trial of a fixed site pill testing facility over summer. That has not been possible, but the work is ongoing across government, with the collaboration of ACT Policing and with the collaboration of and close working relationship with Pill Testing Australia. We will continue that work to seek to get this facility up and running in 2021, but I cannot give Mr Davis a specific date in relation to that at this point in time.
All members in this place are very welcome to seek further briefing from officials in relation to any matter. Should Mr Davis want to get a briefing from officials about the