The State Government has been trying to implement mandatory sentencing laws around assaulting certain occupational groups. The proposed laws unfairly excluded a number of employees.
In 2014 the State Government introduced laws which enforce mandatory sentencing for serious assault on Tasmanian Police. These laws have never been used. In 2016 the State Government announced it was introducing laws to expand mandatory sentencing to a number of other occupational groups.
HACSU has raised concerns about mandatory sentencing as we believe custodial sentences should be a decision of judiciary, where all of the issues are considered.
Additionally, these laws would be unfair because the changes currently exclude many workers who deal regularly with potentially violent situations. For example, Attendants/Medical Orderlies have been excluded despite being the first respondents to Code Black situations when staff members or patients are in danger.
The legislation passed the Lower House where the Government has sufficient votes to control legislation. In response, a number of HACSU Members began a campaign which included lobbying Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) to convince them of the unfairness of these laws.
On 15 March, North West Regional Hospital activist Terry Hayes and HACSU Assistant State Secretary Robbie Moore appeared before the Legislative Council to inform them of HACSU’s concerns around the law. Particular concerns were raised around the unfairness of excluding Attendants/Medical Orderlies. This discussion, along with other lobbying that occurred, was well-received by many of the MLCs.
HACSU can now report that while the legislation was tabled in the Legislative Council, it now appears that it does not have the support it needs to pass the Upper House in its current form. This is a very positive outcome.
HACSU will keep Members up to date if the Bill is bought back for debate.