Ms FORREST - Mr President, I support the bill. I want to make some comments on it and talk about some of my concerns about getting access to mental health care when people are requiring this level of treatment.
The Mental Health Bill, when it was introduced in Tasmania many years ago - I think it was 1996 - was deemed to be revolutionary in some respects. It had a 12-month review clause in it because of that. That 12-month review took 13 years. This was when the Labor Party was in power. I moved to establish a select committee to look at it. That was vehemently opposed by the then minister for health, Lara Giddings. But we pushed on, as we do in this House, and inquired into the provisions of the Mental Health Act, and undertook that long overdue review.
We have a Bill before us that seeks to achieve a number of changes, the intent of which I fully support. Tasmania does need to be compliant with Commonwealth Law, in this case, the Marriage Act 1961, so the so-called ‘no forced divorce’ provision contained within this Bill does need to proceed as soon as possible as we are already non-compliant since December 10th last year.
When the debate last year didn’t occur on the second reading, all Members of this place made speeches on the adjournment regarding this and I won’t revisit that matter at this time. I was, like I assume most other Members were, ready to debate the second reading of the Bill but we didn’t even get that far.
On average at least one woman is killed every week at the hands of a current or former partner in Australia. Last month the numbers were even more alarming. Nine women were killed in October - seven allegedly in the context of a current or former intimate relationship, the other two also suspected to have died at the hands of male perpetrators.
What are we doing? We are trying to do some more here. That was a quote from today's edition of The Conversation. It goes on -
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I will take a word out of the Government's playbook when it comes to amendments in this place. I will not be opposing this legislation. As we mentioned in the briefing, it remains a concern when governments interfere in energy pricing. I understand the volatility in the wholesale energy price, particularly the Victorian wholesale energy price, and some of the factors behind that. This response from the Government is to give effect to a policy to keep energy prices low for Tasmanians. That is a really good thing because many Tasmanians are struggling to pay their energy bills.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I was not planning to say much on this bill but the member for Hobart was so encouraging I thought I would.
I support the bill. I supported the process being dealt with and the first facilitation of this process to allow the councils, the owners of TasWater, to make a decision about whether they would accept this proposal.
As I said by interjection a moment ago, we could have saved 18 months of pain and uncertainty and frustration for many people had the Government considered this option earlier when it was proposed to them.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, when we deal with legislation taking away some personal liberties, it is important we fully consider it fully and in doing so not only weigh up the potential benefits to the broader community, but the rights, privileges and protections individuals should be able to expect and access in our society.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, this is an important step forward in many respects because a number of healthcare providers are not subject to this review process. A few years ago when we debated the national health practitioner regulation process and adopted the national law, a number of professions, such as medical practitioners, nurses and physiotherapists, were initially put into that lot. Another cohort was then added to that regime.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I will be supporting the legislation because it gives certainty about the use of the information that can be recorded.
I was trying to remember during the briefing whether it was two years ago when Mr Hidding was minister for police and emergency services. He brought along one of these cameras to our budget Estimates committee meeting. It was similar to the one that has been decided upon - it was bigger and heavier but had the same sort of design.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I am pleased we are moving down this path. Every time I think about the whole situation I become very tense and upset, because of the blatant disregard of our children in the past. It is still happening around the world and, unfortunately, around our country.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) – Mr President, I support the bill. It is important and timely to look at the actual framework that governs justices of the peace. The member of Mersey talked about the issue of updating the website and I would be interested to hear what the Leader has to say.
I wanted to focus a bit on the second reading speech, which says –
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, all of us are aware of the real concern about and risk of terrorism in this country. Thankfully, we have not been subject to some of the pretty abhorrent acts of terrorism seen in some other countries but when you travel to those places you are very well aware. Even in our major cities we see big bollards being put up and other measures being taken to try to prevent it. If you are trying to go to an AFL match these days in Melbourne you have to have your bag searched and you have to go through the metal detector.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, this bill has generated much interest and many emails. I cannot recall getting any more than one or two at most in support of the bill. In saying that, it is clear that some people who have contacted us, predominantly by email, do not fully understand the extent and nature of the bill presented to us.
I have taken the time to communicate with people who have contacted me to try to point out where that has been the case. In the last couple of days I have not been able to get to all those people. There have been too many.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, overall this bill is a sensible way forward. There are a few areas I would like to drill down into, but we hope that governments of any colour can focus on long-term infrastructure planning. The Minister for Infrastructure seems to have taken up a suggestion I made last year - which the Government then voted against - to look at a long-term infrastructure plan. Anyway, we seem to be working on that now. I commend the Minister for Infrastructure for doing that. I have said that publicly and I have said that to him personally. To me, this fits into that sort of framework - we want our public transport to be as efficient, effective and future-thinking as it can be.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I commend the Government for taking this action. It is an effective and clever solution to draft the bill by putting the Home Act into it and making it a less cumbersome bill. All power to the people in the planning department and the policy unit who worked on this legislation.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, it hardly needs to be said that the time given to scrutinise this bill is completely unsatisfactory. I know some people believe we should just tick off everything the Government states it has a mandate for, but I am not one of them. To suggest that because this was a pre-election promise - or predominantly pre-election promises - it should be simply accepted and passed without full and proper scrutiny denies the role and importance of this House.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, supply bills are not unusual in an election year to tide over the actions of government. Nurses, police, teachers and treasury officials want to be paid in the intervening period between the end of the financial year and the new budget. The appropriation associated with that is approved by the parliament. It was to be expected.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, we generally see a supplementary appropriation bill each year around this time, in some years for a single purchase such as the purchase of the Tamar Valley Power Station. This is quite comprehensive.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, provision of accessible quality healthcare is a fundamental responsibility of the state government. It is always a challenging area because demand will always outstrip capacity. That becomes evident at some peak demand times, such as during the winter in Tasmania, when medical admissions to our acute health services increase significantly.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I am happy to support this bill. I have some questions, but I do not know that the Leader will have some responses to them at a later time. I also wish to declare my interest in the arts. We all have an interest in the arts. I am on two arts-based boards, one being Junction, the other being Unconformity. I am missing a board meeting this evening as we speak. That is the nature of the beast here.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I support the legislation. This is an important step and needed. Great harm has been caused to people over the years, particularly in terms of institutionalised sexual abuse of children, as the royal commission found. It must have been harrowing for those people in the process - those hearing the evidence repeatedly time and time again, the atrocities that happened, and also the re-traumatisation of people who told their stories. It takes a great degree of bravery to do that.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr Deputy President, the continued push by this Government to impose mandatory sentencing is not backed by evidence. It is an action that seeks to appeal to the fears and emotions of the general public. This is expert evidence that I am talking about. It was interesting that the member for Windermere talked about the Western Australian situation.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, the addition of alternative sentencing options outside the prison setting are preferable, regardless of what else you do. There has been lots of discussion about whether we should remove the option for suspended sentences as well as introduce other options. That is definitely a backward step and until you introduce other options and see how they fit into the current options a court has in determining a sentence for someone, we do not know whether they are necessary or not.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I say from the outset I can see both sides of this debate. When the proposed takeover was first mooted by the Treasurer with a view to making TasWater mark 2 a GBE, I publicly stated I had some sympathy for the suggestion.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I think everyone in this place and in the broader community understands the harm that family violence perpetrates. We need to ensure that adequate protections are there, remembering that there is always a perpetrator and a victim, and sometimes those roles can swap. You are not always sure exactly who the victim is.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support this bill. I notice a proposed amendment has been put forward by the member for Hobart, which we will get to later.
The Acting Leader's second reading speech was very comprehensive and certainly covered all the key aspects of the bill. It is, in many respects, modernising what is quite old legislation. It is important that occurs on a regular basis - probably slightly more regularly than it has, one could argue.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, as members would know finfish farming is an important part of my electorate and has been for a very long time. Macquarie Harbour has been a matter raised with me a number of times over the last 12 and a half years, since my election and being in this place. What made me really stand up and take notice was when we started hearing from some of the old timers on the west coast. I call them 'old timers' because they have lived there all their lives. They were starting to express grave concern about the health of the harbour.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I support this bill. I do so for many reasons. Before I go into those, I would like to quote an article from the ABC that reflects my reasons for support and acknowledges the work done by our Leader, the honourable Vanessa Goodwin. I wish to thank her for her dedication to righting, as much as we can, some terrible wrongs done at a time before many of us were in this place. Many of those wrongs resulted from the delay in decriminalising homosexuality in Tasmania, a move blocked by the Legislative Council, this place, a number of times. I will come to that shortly.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr Deputy President, I will be supporting this legislation, but I want to reflect on the process that sees us here. It is important at the outset not to revisit the debate we had a year ago, but to discuss the key reasons we are here.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Thank you, Madam Acting President.
I will not go over all the matters the member for Rumney raised, particularly her comments regarding the difficulty in understanding what is the best way forward with this bill.
I consulted some time ago with people who are actively engaged in this area in terms of dealing with workers' rehabilitation and compensation claims. In my view, it is about keeping lawyers out of it as much as we can because that is where the costs and all the - sometimes - challenges lie.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AMENDMENT (RATES) BILL 2017 (No. 7)
Legislative Council Wednesday 31 May 2017
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I intend to make a brief contribution and then seek to adjourn the debate. We have received a lot of information at the last minute, which concerns me and other members in this place, particularly given the implications of the legislation's retrospectivity and the exemption for marine farming.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I support the adjournment for a further briefing. The issue is - and I respond to the honourable member for Apsley's comments - that normally there is consultation on a bill and we get feedback on it. When this bill was tabled, I did not get much chance during the election period to have a look at all the legislation coming up. I might not have needed to and it could have saved me a lot of work.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I welcome back the honourable member for Launceston on her election. It is nice for us both to be returned. I appreciate the ongoing contribution she will make. Also, the new member for Rumney - I am sure she will find her feet very quickly. She has a couple of colleagues here to see her on the right path.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, it will come as no surprise to anybody that I am not going to support this bill. I have been consistent since this bill was tabled. As soon as it was tabled in the other place, I made it my business to contact the key employers in my electorate involved in the forest industry.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I do not support that amendment. I hope to make a contribution on the bill as other members may wish to. The contribution of the member for Huon related to section 17 and his view that it goes too far and needs amendment. That is not part of this bill. Go back to the second reading speech that the Acting Leader delivered in this place a couple of weeks ago to grant religious exemption. It is not about amending section 17.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr Deputy President, I also support the legislation. It would be good to see a lot of these vehicles off the road, or at least have their slogans removed. It is quite okay for them to still be on the road if they remain registered. To remain registered, they will have to remove the slogans. It is pretty simple. It might take a few weeks, a couple of months perhaps, to get to that point, but it is appropriate.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, once again in this place, I commend the Government for its leadership in our relationship with Aboriginal people. It has taken far too long. I commend the Government for actually getting on with that, although I acknowledge, as we were told in the briefing, that more work needs to be done.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - I will refer to a range of information here. I think it is important to explore this very serious topic quite broadly. As the member for Rumney pointed out, this is a serious issue and a really important matter. I do not think anyone in our community - and certainly not in our Parliament - would not do whatever they can to assist keeping children safe.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, I feel we are between a rock and a hard place. I do not support mandatory sentencing. When we had the bill regarding the police, offences against police officers of a similar nature to what we are dealing with now, I supported the amendments put forward by the member for Launceston. It removed the mandatory sentencing component, and that was on the advice of the Law Society and a range of other people who hold very strong views on this. The member for Hobart read their communications and I am not going to go back over that.
Ms FORREST ( Murchison ) - Mr President, I am not opposed to spending TT-Line funds on TT-Line business. I ask, is this bill the only way to do it? Some of the questions the member for Apsley and others asked may be answered in some respect. This proposal was put forward in the 2016-17 Budget, as the Leader said in her speech. When I did my budget reply I made it very clear that my support for the budget did not guarantee my support for everything that flowed from it. There were a number of reasons I gave at the time, and I will not go back over those now. I want to focus on this bill before us.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I have a number of concerns about the process as much as the bill itself. Unfortunately I was out of the Chamber when members sought suspension of Standing Orders to enable this bill to be debated today and I would have spoken against that. We received this bill and bill package on Friday and there has been a long weekend, which means it is very difficult to consult with people in the meantime.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, the education of our children is the most important thing we can, and must, do for the future of our society, our families and our state. In my mind, there is nothing more important than education.
Education has the power to liberate individuals in a way that nothing else can. You only have to observe what has occurred with women and girls throughout history. They were denied access to education, and access to education has changed their lives. The results are astounding, and the positive impacts on society are real and measurable.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the bill. I do not consider it contentious legislation. It is quite appropriate legislation. It is putting the decision back in the hands of the court, more so than the current law, which only allows petitions for mercy from the Attorney-General and ultimately the Governor on advice of the Premier.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I am not going to repeat what other people have said except to say that it is about time. It has been a long time coming and for the life of me I cannot see why we as a collective, and policymakers, have been so afraid of industrial hemp and low-THC cannabis or industrial hemp plants.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the legislation. I have not heard anyone say that we do not need it. It is important to be consistent around the country. There is some suggestion people in Tasmania think, 'We are immune to this.' I do not believe we do. We know we are part of the big world. The comment is unwarranted.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the legislation. It is part of streamlining these processes as much as possible. I appreciate the Q and A material that has been prepared. A lot of work went into that, and it addresses a number of the areas about which I had questions. I will raise some matters during the bill's Committee stage because it will be more appropriate to address individual parts of the legislation then.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, the issue of family violence is clearly at the forefront of public discourse in Australia at the moment. That does not mean family violence has all of a sudden become pressing and out of control. It does mean the public and its leaders alike are now saying enough is enough. I am pleased to be able to say from the outset I wholeheartedly support the Hodgman Government's loud advocacy on this issue.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, this is an example of a bill we receive about once a year. Tidying up a few matters and getting rid of some out-of-date terminology. There are questions I have for the Leader, which I post broadly. We can either deal with them in her reply or in the specific areas throughout the bill.
Ms FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, when I first read this bill, the second reading speech, and the letter from the acting secretary Mr Pervan regarding this bill, I was confused. The offer was there for a briefing. I thought, 'I am sure we are all having a briefing, so that is fine.' I thank the officers for the briefing.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the principle of the bill. I have similar questions to that of the member for Hobart. Anything that gives ministerial power to enable rental or lease longer than the 12-month period, even if it is at a market rate, to someone from outside their portfolio area does warrant a good look to see how it could work in practice.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the bill. It is appropriate that such a change is made. I have dealt with a couple of families in the north-west region where the mothers of young children were murdered by their partners on two different separate occasions.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Madam Acting President, I support this bill in principle. Although it levels the playing field a bit, there are some areas that do need a bit more clarification from the honourable member for Western Tiers.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, even if I did propose an amendment, I think it would not be supported except perhaps by a couple of members. I am concerned about the haste in which this bill has been presented to us. I accept that the Leader indicated there were some bills coming, but not having access to the bill to scrutinise the details in the bill makes it very difficult.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I acknowledge the work done by the Kennerley Trust and the service it provides, but I am concerned we are proceeding with legislation that we only received on Friday last week - and this relates to the four bills it is proposed we deal with today.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, it is important to speak to this bill. It is substantial legislation. It does not change many things. It tidies up some things that needed to be for obvious reasons. It is important to note that, as the Leader said, changes in improvements in managing public health continue at a fairly significant pace and that each day our knowledge, understanding, effective prevention and management of disease grows.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Madam Deputy President, I only intend to make a very short contribution to this bill because much has already been said and many issues have been raised by members much more experienced in local government than me, who has no experience in local government.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I feel like deja vu. We debate this every year as well. I am not going to go over all the points I have made in the past except to say my view has not changed. This is an initiative that was originally brought in by the former government that was continued by this Government.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I have been listening to the debate with interest and coming from a farming background, I know the cold, harsh reality of some of the challenges farmers face: having to make those difficult decisions about animals that are not well, whether you can nurse them back to health or whether they need to be put down. It is not an easy thing.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I only wish to comment on a small number of aspects of this bill, as this issue was debated at length in 2013 and very little, if anything, has actually changed. The member for Elwick made it pretty clear that nothing really has changed in many ways.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Madam Acting President, I do not have any issue with this amendment bill. I remember debating these issues at length on a previous occasion but it still staggers me that we are actually here debating this.
Ms FORREST - Mr President, I will be brief for a couple of reasons. One is the lateness of the hour and I know the Leader wants to proceed with this bill and I fully support her intention to do that. It is up to us how long it takes.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, it reminds me of a time when we were having a less exciting debate and I sent the Leader a picture of a meerkat doing an interpretive dance that might help in explaining some of the challenges. I felt maybe that was an ideal opportunity to bring that out and consider it.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I do not have any particular issues with this because it is not earth‑shattering, by any stretch. It may be for some, I guess, but it does not appear to be from here. I have a few points I want to clarify with the Leader. She may be able to address them in her response.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, as a health professional I fully support the principle and intent of the bill. I congratulate the member for Windermere for pursuing the cause against smoking in our state. The principle of this bill is seeking to provide a mechanism to prevent young people from taking up the harmful and addictive practice of smoking cigarettes.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the bill and it makes eminent sense to me. It is of interest to note we have only 27 registered cooperatives in the state. I thought there may have been more.
Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support this bill. There are a number of ways it tidies up many areas that have been a bit confusing at times, particularly that of deaths related to medical treatment. It has always been a very difficult time for families and health professionals when a death occurs in a hospital, particularly when it is not expected.