Op-ed: Significant decisions round out LegCo year
Thursday 9 December 2021, The Examiner
As always the last few weeks of Parliament have been filled with time critical, often contentious, issues of community interest. This year was no different. As with all Bills you make the most informed decision you can after consultation with stakeholders, speaking with constituents and having briefings - for and against – from the government and other sectors.
Starting with the Housing Land Supply Bill: I am sure everyone agrees with the need for more affordable and social housing? However, I could not agree that state housing should be able to purchase any land, anywhere and rezone it without the need for due process, including local Council involvement. To my mind, this removes an important layer of protection for our communities with a vote in Parliament basically replacing the Planning Commission. While I accept developments on the land will be subject to Council approval, if developments meet the criteria under LUPA, Council’s hands are tied irrespective of community objections or concerns.
Electric vehicles was another Bill of interest. Many places we visit it is commonplace to see these E-scooters laying around the streets complete with helmets. All you need is a smartphone and an App to log in, pay and off you go, although there is a requirement to be 16 years old. This Bill also allows people to ride their own E-scooter or ‘personal mobility device’ in certain areas, and while I am sure they will be well used and seen around our streets, with every good side there are also negatives to be considered. It is all about finding the right balance, knowing where you can ride them and where you can’t as well as ensuring safety for pedestrians and riders alike.
The Gaming Control amendment removed Federal Group’s monopoly over electronic gaming machines and keno games, with these changes taking effect from 1 July 2023. Following this new policy individual pub and club owners will be granted their own licences for gaming machines and keno. Like them or hate them, an important part of this legislation was harm minimisation and while I would have liked to see lower bet limits and slower speeds, this amendment did not pass, but there were some harm minimisation features included. An addition to Tasmania’s gaming will be two new “high-roller” casino licences with one venue to be located in the south, MONA, and one in the north of the state, site unknown at this stage. Interestingly, while Tasmanian residents can be present, only non residents of Tasmania will be allowed to gamble in these venues.
Much discussion and soul searching went into the TasTAFE Bill, but at the end of the day good wages and conditions for TasTAFE teachers, and in fact all teachers, are essential as well as ensuring there are classes available for our students, city and regional. We know there is a national skill shortage of trade workers and it is essential that TasTAFE has the teachers, facilities and equipment to be future focused and attuned to the needs of industry and employers. We cannot expect our trade workers, be they plumbers, electricians, builders, chefs, and the list goes on, to leave well paid trades to teach in an industry that appears to undervalue them. Teachers sacrifice a lot of their own time for the benefit of their students and we have been assured, and it is my belief, that no teacher will be worse off under the changes, and hopefully they will be better off, but that courses and facilities for students will also improve.
The Container Refund Scheme was the final Bill for the parliament year. Tasmania is one of the last states to take on board a refund scheme and it is sorely needed. While I don’t believe we have chosen the best scheme for our state, ie the split responsibility model which operates in NSW and the ACT as opposed to a producer responsibility model operating in WA and Qld, the primary concern is removing as much litter as possible from our streets, roads and waterways. My preference was for any profits to go to our charities and community rather than company shareholders, but regardless of which scheme is adopted a container refund scheme will be of great benefit to many in our community, particularly sporting clubs and charities who will be able to collect 10 cents refund for eligible drink containers and I look forward to it commencing.
I appreciate people contacting me regarding proposed Bills, whether they are for or against, as laws and regulations affect us all. Similarly if you would like more information on any of the Bills outlined, or have any issues I may be able to assist you with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time. My contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone 63242001 or 0419341178.