Premier vows to shut drug-plagued Defqon.1
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has vowed to do everything she can to permanently shut down the Defqon.1 dance music festival after two young people died from suspected overdoses at the popular event in Sydney at the weekend.
Joseph Pham, a 23-year-old man from Edensor Park in Sydney’s west, and a 21-year-old woman from Melbourne died in hospital after collapsing at the festival and going into cardiac arrest.
NSW police have reported that up to 15 festival attendees were hospitalised for drug-related issues, including a 26-year-old woman who is fighting for her life at Nepean Hospital.
A 19-year-old man from Artarmon in Sydney’s north is in a serious but stable condition at Westmead Hospital and a third person is in a stable condition at Liverpool Hospital.
Police say a further 700 people sought medical attention for drugrelated issues at the venue and 10 arrests were made for drug supply offences, including two 17-yearold girls caught smuggling 120 capsules “internally”.
Ms Berejiklian described the deaths as “absolutely tragic”.
“I never want to see this event held in Sydney or NSW ever again — we will do everything we can to shut this down,” she said.
“I don’t want to see this ever happen again — young lives lost for no reason.”
The man who died at the festival, Mr Pham, regularly shared posts on his Facebook by the antisniffer-dog group Sniff Off.
The last post he shared from the group was three weeks ago, railing against “ridiculous” security measures that were expected to be taken at the Defqon festival.
The group message complained that such measures caused partygoers “anxiety and guesswork” and police at the festival would “end up denying entry to people just because a drug dog looked at them”.
Ms Berejiklian said pill-testing at music events was “not a solution”, although it is understood there was no pill-testing available at Saturday’s event.
“Anyone who advocates pilltesting is giving the green light to drugs. There is no such thing as a safe drug and, unfortunately, when young people think there is, it has tragic consequences,” she said. “I’m absolutely aghast at what has occurred (and) I don’t want any family to have to go through the tragedy that some families are waking up to this morning — it’s just horrible to think about.”
Defqon.1 plays mostly hardcore techno, house and trance music and was attended by 30,000 people on Saturday at the Sydney International Regatta Centre where temperatures reached 30C.
Event organisers, who pledged in their promotional material that they would have a zero-tolerance drug policy, said they were “disappointed” the policy had been ignored.
“The organisers of Defqon.1 Australia are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of two of their patrons at Nepean Hospital after attending the festival,” they said in a statement.
A total of 355 drug searches was conducted at the festival, with 69 people found to be in possession of drugs. Ten were charged with drug supply offences, including a 22-year-old man from Bankstown and a 27-yearold man from Sydney.
Vo Dang Phan, 33, was also charged with supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug after he was allegedly found with MDMA; he was released yesterday afternoon.
Four people have died as a result of overdoses at the Defqon event, including 26-year-old Nigel Pauljevic in 2015 and 23-year-old James Munro in 2013.
Ambulance officers try to resuscitate a patient at Nepean Hospital, main; the Defqon.1 music festival at the Sydney International Regatta Centre, above; victim Joseph Pham, right, in a photo posted on Instagram on Saturday, the day he died