Fes­ti­val deaths en­rage Premier

Daily Mercury - - NATION -

NSW Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian has vowed to shut­down Syd­ney mu­sic fes­ti­val De­fqon.1 af­ter a se­ries of sus­pected drug over­doses left two young peo­ple dead and another three fight­ing for their lives.

A Vic­to­rian woman, 21, and a Syd­ney man, 23, died af­ter col­laps­ing at the event at Pen­rith on Satur­day.

Three peo­ple, in­clud­ing a 19-year-old man, are crit­i­cally ill in hos­pi­tal, while 700 of the 30,000 at­ten­dees were treated by med­i­cal staff, po­lice say.

“I’m ab­so­lutely aghast at what’s oc­curred. I don’t want any fam­ily to go through the tragedy that some fam­i­lies are wak­ing up to this morn­ing,” the Premier said yes­ter­day.

“This is an un­safe event and I’ll be do­ing every­thing I can to make sure it never hap­pens again.”

Po­lice said a Jamison­town woman, 26, re­mains in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion at Ne­pean hos­pi­tal, while the 19-year-old man from Ar­tar­mon was flown to West­mead Hos­pi­tal and is in in­ten­sive care.

A New­cas­tle man is also crit­i­cally ill, while more than a dozen peo­ple were treated at Ne­pean hos­pi­tal for drug-re­lated is­sues.

Tox­i­col­ogy re­ports are ex­pected within a week to un­cover ex­actly what drugs, if any, were taken by those who fell ill.

Act­ing As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Allan Si­card said 180 po­lice were at the event and had worked with or­gan­is­ers to try to keep rev­ellers safe.

Greens MP David Shoe­bridge said the po­lice pres­ence at the fes­ti­val was ag­gres­sive and called for fes­ti­vals to in­tro­duce pill-test­ing, amnesty bins and other harm min­imi­sa­tion mea­sures.

“We can’t keep re­peat­ing past mis­takes,” he said.

De­fqon.1 or­gan­is­ers, hav­ing dealt with mul­ti­ple deaths in the event’s ten-year his­tory, warned ticket hold­ers the fes­ti­val’s drug pol­icy was zero tol­er­ance.

THIS IS AN UN­SAFE EVENT AND I’LL BE DO­ING EVERY­THING I CAN TO MAKE SURE IT NEVER HAP­PENS AGAIN.

GLA­DYS BERE­JIK­LIAN

“This means that all types of soft and hard drugs are pro­hib­ited. If drugs are found, you will be handed over to the po­lice,” a state­ment on the fes­ti­val’s web­site said.

Po­lice say 10 peo­ple were charged with drug sup­ply of­fences, in­clud­ing two 17-yearold girls who al­legedly car­ried 120 cap­sules “in­ter­nally” into the venue.

Ec­stasy, co­caine and GHB were among the drugs con­fis­cated from 69 peo­ple at the fes­ti­val, which was held at the Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional Re­gatta Cen­tre.

Lo­cal de­tec­tives have formed a new po­lice strike­force, dubbed High­worth, to investigate the two deaths.

Syd­ney mu­sic fes­ti­val De­fqon.1 at­tracted a crowd of 30,000 to the Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional Re­gatta Cen­tre at Pen­rith on Satur­day, with 700 peo­ple re­quir­ing med­i­cal treat­ment.

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