The government performed a surprisingly acrobatic move this week.
On Friday, seemingly out of the blue, it pulled off a backflip, dropping its controversial gun law changes.
Just days before Tasmanians headed to the polls in March this year, it was revealed the government was seeking to change the state’s gun policy.
While the government did not keep the proposed changes secret, it appeared the only consultation was targeted at farmers and existing firearms owners – that is, those who the changes would benefit and largely affect.
Controversy surrounded the policy, for two reasons. One being that Tasmania will always have a difficult relationship with guns because of what happened in 1996.
Whether policymakers believe this relationship is logical or not is beside the point. The point is that it exists, and it is strong.
Knowing this, the Liberal Party should have been more honest and open with its gun policy review from the very start.
Its revelation, shrouded in uncertainty, created an atmosphere of distrust. Post re-election, an upper house committee was formed in response to firearms law reform.
Since the government’s about-face, independent Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest has called for the committee to be disbanded, saying the motion the committee was formed to investigate was now redundant.
It’s a case of the cart before the horse. The party should have consulted widely in the first place, through a discussion paper. It’s possible they chose not to take this route, knowing it may damage them during the campaign.
While it would not have appeased all Tasmanians, it would have removed any suspicions of “snuck-in” legislation, an argument that formed the backbone of much of the opposition.
It has been a tough seven weeks for the state government, since Parliament last sat. You can bet Labor and the Greens will come to Question Time on Tuesday with bags of ammo. It was never going to be an easy start to the Liberals’ second term. The rest of their term will be interesting, to say the least.