NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm in her opposition to pill testing but has announced amnesty bins will be allowed at festivals so revellers can discard illegal drugs without penalty.
Introduced from December 28, the initiative will form part of government's response to the recommendations of deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame after an inquest into six MDMA-related deaths at NSW music festivals.
"We believe amnesty bins are a good way to increase safety so that young people, if they see police or if they see other activity, don't panic," Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
"You have the opportunity, without any questions asked, to throw those pills into the bin; we're doing everything we can to reduce the incidences of young people dying."
Ms Grahame in November criticised high-visibility policing at festivals and urged against using sniffer dogs, which can lead to festival goers double-dosing or pre-loading on drugs.
The coroner also recommended pill testing, which she argued could provide "a brief harm reduction intervention".
But Ms Berejiklian continues to rule out a pill testing trial.
Asked if she'd support testing drugs put into the amnesty bins so festival goers might be alerted to a "bad batch", she said: "I want to send the strongest message out to the community about not taking pills.
"We have some opportunities to further consider if we need to do anything more. I'm not going to close the door on that (but) I am closing the door on pill testing."
The announcement was slammed by critics as a "drop in the bucket" for harm reduction.
"The experts agree the best way to prevent harm and unnecessary deaths is to allow people to test drugs they have already bought and intend to take, and importantly to speak with a health professional and get tailored advice," NSW Uniting Church head of advocacy Emma Maiden said in a statement.
"It puts an obstacle between the person and the pill and creates an opportunity to change their mind."
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said the bins weren't enough to save lives and she feared police would use them as "an excuse to increase their intimidation tactics" and "scare kids into throwing away their drugs".
"It's disappointing that amnesty bins are the only recommendation from the deputy coroner's report that the premier has listened to," she said.
Labor spokesman Walt Secord said the premier's policy belonged in the era of Ronald Reagan and his party wanted a "an evidence-based approach with medical supervision by doctors of a pill testing trial".
"Harm minimisation is about reducing the possibility of death and I think the premier owes this to parents ... we're just asking for a trial, we're not asking for legalisation," he said.
Police Association of NSW president Tony King says more detail is needed but the amnesty bins are a "sensible move".
"The details of how the bins are used will now just need clear, concise guidelines and instructions - for police officers and festival goers alike," he said in a statement.
"As we've said before, the role our members play in preventing deaths at festivals has been woefully understated, and we are hopeful that with the introduction of the measures announced today further lives will be saved in the future."
Australian Associated Press