MLC Ruth Forrest attacks government for lack of respect

Ruth Forrest MLC

Ruth Forrest MLC

A Tasmanian MLC has lashed the state government for failing to provide a briefing on the controversial bikie colours legislation.

Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest said she had twice sought a briefing on the Police Offences Amendment (Prohibited Insignia) Bill to no avail.

Ms Forrest said the refusal reflected the lack of respect shown by the government to the upper house.

“This is contentious legislation and it would have been helpful for all members to have a briefing prior to the winter break so we could undertake to consult with other people in our communities about it,” she said.

“The key questions are how this legislation is going to address the problem and how do we stop other motorcycle groups getting caught up in it?

“I am receiving a lot of emails in opposition to it, as I am sure other members are.

“I have not had anyone saying they support it, but that may come.”

Ms Forrest said she was concerned the government would only provide a briefing in the week the upper house was debating the legislation.

A government spokeswoman said: “A briefing was provided during the public consultation period in relation to this legislation and a briefing will be provided when it’s tabled in the Council.

“We work constructively with the legislative council and we are happy to provide additional briefings on legislation when asked.”

When it was introduced in the lower house, Police Minister Michael Ferguson said the legislation prohibited the display of insignia that promoted criminal associations and caused fear in the community.

“Tasmanians have a right to enjoy their state free from acts and threats of violence, intimidation and the scourge of drugs,” Mr Ferguson said.

Ms Forrest was also critical of the government for the lack of detail and delay in answering questions from budget estimates.

“Half the ministers and many of the advisers are on leave, it seems - disrespectful again, when we are still sitting and dealing with the state Budget – $6 billion of expenditure and they leave,” Ms Forrest said.

“The upper house is being treated with a level of disrespect we have not seen for some time and I hope that changes.

“If the Premier is talking about a spirit of cooperation, let us see examples of it.”

This story MLC Ruth Forrest attacks government first appeared on The Advocate.