New laws to ensure better support for police attacked by infected crooks could be on the horizon in Tasmania.
Being bitten, spat on, and exposed to other bodily fluids was an unfortunate part of the job for frontline police.
And that was why the state's police union was calling for a Mandatory Disease Testing Bill.
Similar to what has been raised in NSW, the legislation would give police the right to take blood from offenders when an officer is deliberately exposed to their blood or bodily fluids, and is put at risk of contracting an infectious disease.
While the NSW legislation has received backlash, with some national health officials deeming it an "inappropriate criminalisation of a health issue", the state's Police Minister David Elliott said in 2020 the "repercussions can be life changing" for police who are deliberately exposed to diseases.
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As part of their legislation, a Mandatory Testing Order would require the subject of the order to provide a blood sample within two days or face a maximum penalty of more than $10,000 and/or 12 months' imprisonment.
In Tasmania, without the legislation, affected police were forced to wait up to six months to find out whether they have been infected with a blood-borne disease.
As part of the union's election commitment requests, Police Association of Tasmania president Colin Riley said the laws would give a more immediate result, and remove the stress of waiting.
He said NSW was leading the way, and the the laws were "necessary, and long overdue".
"This legislation will provide that when members have been subject to blood-borne or body fluid exposure that they will be recognised as an adversely affected party and their needs, along with their families, will be addressed," he wrote.
"Allowing the taking of the offender's blood for disease testing and the imposition of fines for failing to do so, are insignificant issues compared with the potential distress of members and their families.
"This outcome would be totally reasonable in the circumstances that often prevail and would place a legal responsibility on offenders to comply, which is commensurate with their actions, especially where they are purposely contaminating our members."
Both the Liberal Party and Labor were looking into the legislation in Tasmania.
The state government did not comment specifically on the mandatory disease testing laws, but said it was considering the police union's overall demands, and working on a "comprehensive response" to key policy priorities raised by Mr Riley this week.
Shadow Minister for Police Jen Butler said she had met directly with the union to discuss the potential laws.
"While legislation would need to be carefully drafted to avoid unintended consequences, in principle we support imposing penalties for people who refuse to submit to a blood test," she said.
"This is consistent with penalties for people who refuse to be breath tested."
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