If there’s one way to get young, drug-loving Australian voters on side, it’s throwing them a rave. Fiona Patten, leader of the Reason Party—formally known as the Sex Party—knows this. She’s putting on a five-hour house and techno rave in Melbourne next month to drum up support for her party’s pill-testing policy. And she won’t be disappointed if you get on the pingers.
“You can’t just say no to pills and to people taking drugs at raves, or other festivals,” Fiona told VICE over the phone. “It’s part of that culture... I just want to make sure that everyone’s safe and certainly I think that’s the priority: to provide good music and a safe space to hear it.”
The event aims to tap into the considerable demographic of young Australians who go to live music events and take illicit substances. With the New South Wales government doubling down on their zero tolerance policy and trotting out harsher sanctions against recreational drug users, Fiona wants to give a voice to those who are actually involved in the culture.
“These are our people,” she says. “A lot of our supporters are regular festival-goers and really like the music that they experience at raves and other festivals… Let’s try and get some pill-testing trials up before the festival season starts.”
So the elephant in the room, then: can I take drugs at the Reason Party rave?
“I won’t be taking drugs at this event,” Fiona says. “Given that we are in full campaign mode I’ll be staying as conscious as possible for the next 30 days. [But] what other individuals do is out of my control.
“I recognise the fact that people take drugs at all sorts of events and at all sorts of times in their life, so it wouldn’t surprise me if people took drugs [at this event]” she adds. “We know that an 808 drum machine and certain substances often go hand-in-hand… so I wouldn’t be surprised if people were taking mind-altering substances.
“Whether people consume illicit drugs, I’m not here to tell them what to do, nor to judge them for it. If they’re adults, it’s their choice. What I want people to do is be safe.”
The Reason Party has a range of policies that fall under the broad agenda of sensible drug reform. These include treating drug use as a health issue, rather than a criminal one; legalising cannabis and introducing front-of-house pill-testing facilities at music festivals and other events.
The political rave will be held at Shifty’s bar, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, on the night of Friday, November 9th—and Fiona would love to see you there. Even if you happen to be off your head.
“I would be delighted if you came to the event, and whatever you choose to consume is your choice,” she says, warmly. “We’d love to see you and we’d love to see you in a lovely mood for partying.”