RIP Rainbow Serpent? Authorities Threaten Cancellation Amid Drug Issues

Police officer inspects vehicle with sniffer dog at Rainbow Serpent Festival 2019. Image via Victoria Police
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The 2019 Rainbow Serpent Festival saw its last day on January 28. While it looked as fun as any bush doof can be, at least according to the Instagram pics, it didn’t go without a hitch.

There was that suspicious fire that threatened the festival before its opening, and that freak truck accident that sent three people to the hospital. And then there’s Lucy Groen, who was killed in a car crash on the way to the doof.

But what got the authorities’ hackles rising is the fact that six people were reportedly brought to Ballarat Base Hospital after a suspected drug overdose throughout the doof. Some 18 people were also arrested for various drug-related offences. These include a 17-year-old kid and a 25-year-old French national, both for drug trafficking.

The mayor of Pyrenees Shire Council, Robert Vance, has even gone on record threatening to ban future iterations of Rainbow Serpent. He found the number of drug-related issues emerging from Rainbow to be “deeply troubling.” “If there is a death, then it’s very serious… it could be an ultimatum,” he said.

However, Rainbow Serpent’s organisers aren’t taking this threat lying down. In fact, festival spokesperson Tim Harvey put the blame on the authorities’ “30 years of failed drug policy.” He claimed that the festival has done all it can to create a safe environment for its attendees, including fielding a 30-strong medical team and two emergency ambulances.

Mr. Harvey also said: “We are the people trying to do our best to meet these challenges and we are waiting for governments and other organisations to get on board with this rather than continuing the same zero-tolerance message that has caused the problem we face at the moment.”

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