Police Offences Amendment Bill 2014 (No. 16)
Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, in a broader sense I too will support this bill. I accept that officers must be able to efficiently and effectively perform their duties and I have no doubt that this is becoming much more difficult, particularly with budget cuts and lack of police numbers. I am sure that many in our community, if given the choice, would prefer an on-the-spot infringement notice in preference to being deprived of their liberty - going through the process of being taken back to the station, charged, processed, bailed, et cetera - as well as being more time-efficient for officers. In fact I believe the issue of infringement notices for on-the-street drinking has removed quite a lot of paperwork from officers.
I often act as an independent person for under-age offenders, and I am well aware of the amount of time taken to charge and process possible offenders with photographing, fingerprinting, bailing, et cetera. If this bill can assist police without removing people's rights and liberties, then I will support it.
As has been mentioned, once an infringement notice is received, there is still the ability to dispute this charge and go to court or write to the commissioner to seek that the charge be withdrawn. If that evening you decided to take an infringement notice, and the next day you thought, 'Actually I don't really think I did that', you still have the opportunity to object. I agree with the member for Windermere that it is important that people are aware that once they accept and pay that infringement notice, then an offence has been recorded against them.
I am pleased to see tattooing and piercing included in the bill. It is important we protect under-age people, particularly in the case of tattooing, from something that will in many cases be with them for life. I agree you cannot always protect people from themselves and their choices, as freedom is always important. As with many other areas, I am content that they be of suitable age in order make these decisions. The member for Windermere mentioned backyard tattooing and how difficult it may be to find these operators and charge them. If I had an under-age person who came home with a tattoo, I would want to know exactly where they had it done. I would certainly be taking it to the police to have them charged and removed. I believe under-age people having tattoos done by backyard tattooists will be read the riot act by parents and guardians.
Mr Mulder (Rumney) - Arrest your own child?
Mrs Armitage - It is not the child that is being arrested, it is the backyard tattooist that should not be performing the tattooing.
Mr Mulder - Sounds like you are going to get interrogated, but not charged.
Mrs Armitage - I can assure you my children have been interrogated a number of times by me. I am very pleased to say they have no tattoos or piercings.
I also took the time to get the AMA advice off the website. Sometimes people do not realise the risks associated with piercings and tattoos. The member for Windermere mentioned he thought that for piercings to be 16 to 18 with a guardian as a opposed to having to be over 18 for tattoos. I would contend that a tattoo is not something that can be removed; in most cases with a piercing, the hole will grow over if you remove the ring or stud. There is not quite the effect of a piercing. If I had to choose my children having one or the other, I would prefer a piercing to a tattoo. I can see the difference between those. As it states on the AMA website, having a part of your body pierced is a very important decision and can have negative health effects if done poorly. It goes on:
Don't be led to believe that piercing is easily done. Some piercings can be complex and it is important that those performing a piercing are informed and skilled. It can be expensive to have corrective procedures for a problem such as keloid scarring.
It also goes on to say, with regard to tattooing and piercing, that there are significant risks of transmission of diseases like hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS in unsafe piercing studios and if tattooing is done by friends or relatives or in un-sterile conditions. It is important to make sure that the premises where it is done are licensed and that the people having it done are of an age to make a sensible decision.
Moving on to other areas, the prevalence of social media parties has become a real issue. I have heard of many occasions when houses have been trashed. Constituents and community members have been very concerned that huge groups of people, who have seen a party on Facebook, have turned up in their street. The person who owns the house has absolutely no ability to get rid of them, because there are so many of them. Generally they do not even know the people. This is a real issue for police manpower especially when they may be needed in other areas. This has happened in Launceston. I have had calls from members of the public saying, 'I've called the police. Why aren't they coming?'. On these occasions the police have often sent several units to Facebook parties, because they get out of control. They are generally under-age people who have seen the party on Facebook and just turned up en masse. It is good that this bill gives police a bit more power.
While the act is to be completely reviewed in order to bring it in line with current times - and I see that as a positive - I am sure all police officers use discretion and common sense.
I support the bill before us.