“We would like to send our sincere condolences to his family and friends during this distressing and terribly sad time,” a spokesperson for the festival said in a statement.
“We have implemented every single harm minimisation strategy that is legally available to us, run in-depth education campaigns on the dangers of drug use, and worked closely with all stakeholders to ensure we are in the best possible position to prevent and manage an incident like this.”
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, NSW Police Superintendent Jason Weinstein said the death was “very sad and very heartbreaking for the family” and that it was a reminder at the start of the summer festival season that drugs are “dangerous items”.
“All it takes is one pill to kill … if anyone is thinking of consuming an illegal substance it’s really like playing Russian roulette, you’re really loading a bullet into a gun and firing.”
Police attending the festival had made 20 drug-related arrests over the first two days, and laid a total of 30 charges, he said.
Meanwhile at Festival X in Sydney’s west on Saturday, police were very happy with the “exceptional” overall behaviour of the 45,000-strong crowd, he said.
But it was “quite sad and concerning that after all the warnings and advice given to festivalgoers attending that festival” that police had charged 29 people with drug-related offences, including four charged with supplying MDMA in various quantities.
Of 125 presentations to the festivals’ medical tent, 11 were sent to Concord Hospital. Four were in a serious condition and one was critical, but all had been discharged by Sunday morning.
Despite the arrests and hospitalisations, Superintendent Weinstein said police were hopeful young people are getting the message, noting the quantity of drugs found on people at Festival X was “substantially lower” than what’s been seen in previous years.
The biggest bust was for the equivalent of about 40 MDMA pills, he said, whereas police were finding people carrying more than 300 pills at festivals in the last two years.
The incidents follow a significant public debate around the policing of drugs at music festivals, amid a push for the introduction of pill testing and controversy over the use of strip searches.
Superintendent Weinstein said pill testing was a matter for the government, and that police had not pulled back on strip searches, with 130 people searched and 31 strip searched at Festival X.
“At the end of the day, NSW Police operate under the legislation and strip searches [are] part of the law enforcement powers Act.
“It’s upon the constable to satisfy themselves that they have reasonable suspicion to undertake that strip search.”
Hunter festival postponed over ‘safety concerns’
Another upcoming music festival, Subsonic, that was going to be held in the Hunter region next week, has been postponed due to “safety concerns arising from ongoing fires in the area and critically low water levels in the Karuah River”.
“We were only advised of the unavailability of [festival venue] Riverwood Downs at very late notice and were unable to safely change the venue for next weekend,” Subsonic’s festival director Scott Commens said in a statement on Sunday.
Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a writer and editor at Daily Life.
Education reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald