Bill Shorten has admitted he smoked – and inhaled – marijuana as a university student but has never taken ecstasy.
The Labor leader came clean on his drug use on Monday amid the debate about pill testing, after the Greens’ Cate Faehrmann admitted she had used the drug for 20 years.
Ms Faehrmann declined to say whether she had used it since she became an MP.
“I’ve actually answered this before. I can’t rule out in my university years, I might have done something,’’ Mr Shorten said.
“But what I can do is since then, especially when I have become a parent, it opens your eyes … I would make it very clear, don’t support taking illegal drugs. This Greens MP’s comments go to the heart of the matter.
“Not what I did at university 30 years ago.”
Mr Shorten did not make clear which drugs he was referring to but his office later clarified he was referring only to marijuana and has never taken MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.
According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, about 10.3 per cent of Australians aged over 14 years have used ecstasy at some stage in their life.
“The testing is an issue. I have visited festivals. I’ve spoken to paramedics and police, festival organisers and probably, unlike the government, young people,” Mr Shorten said.
“These are illicit drugs. You can’t just rely on pill testing because it can only pick up certain warning signs and not other warning signs.
“The reason why I treated your question with respect and not worried about what some Green MP may have snorted a decade ago, the real issue in Australian politics is parental concern meeting the law, meeting a whole lot of issues.”
While Ms Faehrmann, 48, refused to say whether she still took drugs, she said she remembered “vividly” the first time she took MDMA.
“We danced all night to house music, talked nonsense with strangers, deep and meaningfully with each other. A month or so later we did it again. And again,” she wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I know journalists, tradies, lawyers, public servants, doctors, police and yes, politicians (most well into their forties), who have done the same.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had never taken illegal drugs.