Tasmania Greens drugs reform passes, party wants balance of power

The Tasmanian Greens are eyeing the balance of power at the next state election, which leader Cassy O’Connor maintained would produce a “parliament for grown-ups”.

On day one of the party’s last state conference before the election, all eyes were on the role of the Greens during next year’s poll.

Ms O’Connor told the conference she found clippings of Jim Bacon and David Bartlett promising they would not do deals with the Greens, and drew parallels with those of Will Hodgman and Rebecca White.

“We’ll see a lot of strong rhetoric from both the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition because they are concerned Tasmanians might elect a power-sharing parliament,” Ms O’Connor said. 

“It's the same rhetoric – it's arrogant and disrespectful of the Tasmanian electorate.

“What the polls are telling us is a balance-of-power parliament is a strong possibility.”

Ms O’Conner said a tied election would produce a “parliament for grown-ups”.

“We’ll be engaging with the Tasmanian people about why a balance of power is good, it’s parliament for grown-ups, you get better decisions made, you get stronger legislation,” she said. 

Australian Greens’ Leader Richard Di Natale told the conference a resistance was forming against the major parties.

He said people were tired of “big-money politics”, and were turning to the Greens for action on climate change and equality. 

As the “spiritual home” of the Greens, Mr Di Natale said it was vital the state election produced good results and a return to party status for the Tasmanian Greens.

“When we do well in Tasmania we do well right across the country,” he said. 

“We’ve got an outstanding team here.

“We’ve got two choices for this state: One is the old way, the Labor and Liberal way; chop it down, dig it up, ship it out, or the Green way; clean, green and clever – that’s what the future of Tasmania is.”

Ms O’Connor tipped the future of poker machines in Tasmania would be a key election issue.

“There’s no question the future of the Federal [Group] monopoly deed is on people’s minds,” she said.

At the Greens’ conference, a motion to remove criminal penalties for personal drug use passed the floor.

Greens’ health spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said the shift from drugs being treated as a criminal issue would allow the police to refocus efforts to people who traffic or manufacture drugs.

“It follows the mountain of evidence from the legal and health sectors that the law enforcement approach is a failure, it is making communities less safe, it is causing harm for individuals, it is costing us a fortune,” she said.

Political analyst Kevin Bonham said the Tasmanian Greens’ strategy would be to recover Lyons and retain their three existing seats.

He said the Greens were “notoriously optimistic about their own chances”.