Nat Cook should retract offensive drug comments

The State Liberals are calling on Labor MP Nat Cook to retract and apologise for offensive comments about police attempts to reduce the harm from illicit drugs at music festivals.

Labor MP Nat Cook has told The Advertiser:

"There is conjectural evidence that an overbearing police presence and zero-tolerance policies are forcing partygoers to take unnecessary risks, such as overloading on drugs before the festival, which is having a greater health impact on users.

"Rather than have one pill at the start and one pill midway through the festival, they'll take the two at the start, which runs a much greater risk."

The comments were described as offensive and dangerous by Shadow Police Minister John Gardner.

"Nat Cook's comments send a terrible message to young people," said Mr Gardner.

"This is a community leader - a Member of Parliament - suggesting that police should ignore drugs at festivals, leaving the gate wide open for drug dealers to prey on partygoers.

"It is also an extraordinary and unfair attack on our police officers, who are doing a hard and important job. Saying that they are overbearing and linking their presence to risk-taking behaviour is offensive.

"If Nat Cook won't retract and apologise, then at the very least Acting Premier John Rau should rebuke the comments and confirm what Labor's position is.

"Labor is sending mixed messages on drugs. On the one hand their election flyers say they are tough on crime. But then you have comments like these from Labor's so-called star recruit."