Published: 10 November 2021

House of Assembly speaker Mark Shelton has rejected a claim that some House of Assembly members may have been under the influence of alcohol during the final vote on gaming legislation last month.

Lower house members engaged in a 23-hour debate over separate sittings in October and passed the controversial gaming bill late at night before the chamber took a break for a week.

Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest in the Legislative Council on Tuesday night said those who had observed the final night of debate had reported some members had been affected by alcohol.

"It appeared that some members, who were generally only returning to the chamber late at night to vote, were clearly under the influence of alcohol and could be heard saying as much," she said.

"Those members can speak for themselves around the veracity of this, but I find it abhorrent and deeply concerning."

Ms Forrest said nobody in Parliament should be allowed to work under the influence of alcohol.

She later said alcohol use could impair our reaction time, judgement and decision-making.

"Having a drink after work is fine - after the house has risen," Ms Forrest said.

"The work we do is serious and impacts the lives of Tasmanians.

"We have an obligation to ensure we are fully alert to ensure optimal decision-making at all times when dealing all legislation, particularly complex legislation.

"This is a matter that has bothered me for a long time.

"I have been here 16-plus years and I believe such behaviour should be called out.

"I believe the public would expect this of us - they pay our salaries."

Mr Shelton said intoxication from alcohol was not the accepted practice in the House of Assembly.

"As speaker of the house, I am not aware of any basis whatsoever for these disappointing assertions and I have not received any formal or informal complaint," he said.

The Examiner, Wednesday 10 November 2021

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