A spate of suspected drug-related deaths at NSW music festivals will be probed during a weeklong inquest this week in Sydney.
Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame will oversee the sessions, which kicked off this morning at the NSW Coroners Court in Lidcombe and is due to conclude Friday, though further hearing dates are possible.
The ‘Inquest into the Music Festival deaths’ will examine the deaths of Diana Nguyen, Joseph Nguyen Binh Pham, Callum Brosnan, Joshua Gerard Tam and Alexandra Ross-King at NSW festivals between September 2018 and January 2019, according to the AAP.
Also, Magistrate Grahame will consider the death of Hoang Tran, who died after attending Knockout Circuz in December 2017.
The investigation follows the rollout earlier this year of a controversial set of new licensing conditions for festivals operating in NSW, initiated by state premier Gladys Berejiklian following a string of fatalities at music festivals in Australia’s most populous state.
The new regulations launched March 1, and critics have warned they unfairly punish low-risk events and contributed to the collapse of Psyfari and Mountain Sounds festivals.
Representatives from the live industry have described the licensing conditions as poorly-conceived, heavy-handed, and created without adequate consultation. In the worst-case scenario, NSW would become “Australia’s first music festival-free zone,” a coalition of music industry trade bodies has said.
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Berejiklian’s Liberals remain staunch opponents to pill testing.
The recommendations from a coronial inquiry are made to ministers and government and to non-government agencies, who are required to report to the attorney general within six months, laying out any action to be taken.
Coroners have no power to enforce compliance of their recommendations and they can’t find someone guilty of a crime.