NSW Premier’s media conference hijacked
AN INDEPENDENT reporter has sensationally hijacked a media conference by Gladys Berejiklian on drug deaths at music festivals by accusing her of condoning child abuse.
The NSW Premier was announcing the government's response to a coronial inquest into six fatal overdoses at music events in the state when a man identifying himself as Julian Evans from an outlet called Focus News Channel began berating her.
Ms Berejiklian had just concluded her opening remarks and was throwing to the first of four other speakers when the man peppered her with fiery questions about police stripsearching minors at public events.
Evans accused the government and NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller of condoning "child abuse" by not banning the controversial practice.
"When will you end the stripsearching of children by your NSW police force?" he said.
Evans then sensationally accused Commissioner Fuller of "protecting paedophile police officers".
A flustered Ms Berejiklian attempted to brush off the interruption, explaining questions would be taken after other ministers and authorities had spoken, but Evans continued.
When Commissioner Fuller eventually addressed the press pack, he confirmed that a review into more than 300 instances of underage people being stripsearched was under way.
"I welcome that debate and we're certainly not hiding from that," he said.
"I'm personally overseeing a review into stripsearches of young people. I need to make sure young people … and the safeguards there for them are being used by police."
There were strict guidelines to be followed but Commissioner Fuller said there was "evidence that hadn't happened".
"I couldn't take it more seriously."
Evans continued his hard line of questioning, demanding the Premier condemn minors being strip searched, including concerning instances of no guardian or support person being present.
In one case, a schoolboy alleged his genitalia were touched by an officer conducting the stripsearch.
"Mr Fuller has not condemned that. Do you condemn that and when will you end the stripsearching of children?"
Ms Berejiklian replied: "I'm very pleased to have heard the comments of the Commissioner today … in reviewing the operations of how stripsearches are conducted."
The point of the press conference was to announce the introduction of amnesty bins at music festivals where people can dispose of drugs without penalty.
The major recommendations of the inquest, including pill testing, were ignored.
Ms Berejiklian said the government's message remained clear: "Don't do drugs."
She added: "Drugs kill you. That's why they're illegal. Do not take MDMA, do not take ecstasy, do not take any illicit drug."
More to come