Young National, Simon Bridges at odds over proposed drug testing

The Government's move to protect drug-testing services from prosecution over the festival season has put National at odds with its youth wing.

Earlier on Tuesday Labour's Health Minister Andrew Little said it would pass short-term legislation to allow services like Know Your Stuff to legally receive and test drugs over summer for high-risk substances and dangerous impurities.

Little said until today both the services and the festivals which allow them have effectively been operating illegally, and the move is reassurance "they will not be criminalised for their efforts to keep young New Zealanders safe this summer".

The announcement was applauded by the Green Party, the ACT Party - along with Young National.

"We're stoked to see the Government acting on this," Young National tweeted.

"We called for the legalisation and regulation of pill testing in late 2019 and stand-by that stance. It's time to put the health of young Kiwis first."

It followed this up with a thread of reasons why it supports legal pill-testing, tweeting: "We in no way condone drug use. But if a young person makes the mistake of choosing to take an illicit drug, it should not be their death sentence."

But National's justice spokesperson Simon Bridges wasn't impressed, warning the move could instead encourage young people to do drugs.

"National isn't supporting the pill testing bill because it sends the wrong message on hard drugs to our young and it gives them a false sense of security," he tweeted.

"This law may result in more illicit drug use and more harm."

The dissent by the youth arm was praised by young right-wingers on Twitter.

"Very proud of the Young Nats today for adopting this position. It's the responsible thing to do," tweeted Liam Vincent.

"I think it's an incredibly brave thing to do. Organisations that are totally ideologically in lockstep with each other aren't political parties, they're cults."

And Young National's creative director Kathleen Williams responded with a series of blue hearts.

Youth wings tend to be more liberal than their parent parties, and disagreement over drugs has caused headaches for politicians in the past.

In March this year, ACT leader David Seymour threatened to strip Young ACT of their name after the youth wing planned to have drug paraphernalia for sale at a university event to promote their new drug policy.

The policy was to legalise not just cannabis but also LSD or acid, magic mushrooms, and MDMA - the main ingredient in ecstasy.

Seymour told Newshub at the time the policy is not something "you'll see anytime soon" and that legalising drugs is "not a political priority" for him.