POWER SWITCH

Ogilvie re­places Hickey as key vote in state’s Lower House

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID KILLICK Political Edi­tor

THE power bal­ance in state par­lia­ment has been flipped on its head after in­de­pen­dent Madeleine Ogilvie, below, sided with the Gov­ern­ment to pass its con­tro­ver­sial manda­tory sen­tenc­ing laws.

Ms Ogilvie, a for­mer La­bor Party mem­ber, said she voted for the Bill be­cause she be­lieves that is what Tas­ma­ni­ans want.

Lib­eral Speaker Sue Hickey crossed the floor to op­pose the Bill.

IN­DE­PEN­DENT Madeleine Ogilvie sided with the Gov­ern­ment to pass laws on manda­tory sen­tenc­ing on child sex of­fend­ers — in a ma­jor power shift in state par­lia­ment.

The for­mer La­bor mem­ber told par­lia­ment she was per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally against manda­tory sen­tenc­ing, but had con­sulted widely and would be sup­port­ing the Bill be­cause she be­lieved that was what Tas­ma­ni­ans wanted.

Her de­ci­sion rep­re­sents a ma­jor vic­tory for the Gov­ern­ment, which had at times strug­gled to pre­vail on the floor of the house be­fore the de­par­ture of La­bor MP Scott Ba­con saw Ms Ogilvie elected on a re­count.

Speaker Sue Hickey crossed the floor to vote with the Op­po­si­tion par­ties against the Bill.

The vote, tied at 12-12, was re­solved by the cast­ing vote of Deputy Speaker Jac­quie Petrusma.

Amid re­peated in­ter­jec­tions, Ms Ogilvie said she was in favour of sta­ble gov­ern­ment and would put her trust in the Up­per House to deal prop­erly with the leg­is­la­tion.

“Crimes against chil­dren are amongst the worst of the worst,” she said. “We are deal­ing with chil­dren, we are deal­ing with vic­tims, and if it was my kids I would want ev­ery­thing done.”

Speaker Sue Hickey va­cated the Speaker’s chair dur­ing Ms Ogilvie’s speech and was briefly re­placed by Lyons MP John Tucker.

The Bill im­poses manda­tory min­i­mum jail sen­tences for sex­ual as­saults on chil­dren, and for as­saults on front­line work­ers — in­clud­ing cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, am­bu­lance of­fi­cers, nurses, mid­wives, med­i­cal or­der­lies, hospi­tal at­ten­dants and child safety of­fi­cers.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Elise Archer said sex­ual of­fences against chil­dren were heinous.

“Of­fend­ers of sex­ual vi­o­lence against chil­dren de­serve sig­nif­i­cant sen­tences of im­pris­on­ment in recog­ni­tion of the ap­palling and, in many cases, life­long ef­fects of their crim­i­nal con­duct on their child vic­tims,” she said.

La­bor’s Ella Had­dad said child sex­ual abuse was ab­hor­rent and should be dealt with harshly by the courts.

But the Gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach un­der­mined the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary and had been re­jected sev­eral times by par­lia­ment, she said.

“La­bor doesn’t sup­port manda­tory sen­tenc­ing no mat­ter what the crime it is ap­plied to. It is a fun­da­men­tal re­jec­tion of the sen­tenc­ing method it­self,” she said. “La­bor’s po­si­tion has re­mained un­changed — manda­tory sen­tenc­ing does not work.”

She said the Sen­tenc­ing Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil had rec­om­mended against manda­tory sen­tenc­ing be­cause it did not re­duce crime and meant of­fend­ers were less likely to plead guilty.

ASINGLE mem­ber of Tas­ma­nia’s House of As­sem­bly has cast her vote and in do­ing so has flipped the power bal­ance in state pol­i­tics on its head. Sound fa­mil­iar?

In vot­ing for the Gov­ern­ment’s re­cast manda­tory sen­tenc­ing laws yes­ter­day in­de­pen­dent mem­ber for Clark Madeleine Ogilvie has handed the Lib­er­als a sig­nif­i­cant win.

It de­feated a coali­tion of La­bor, the Greens and Speaker Sue Hickey who in May united to de­feat a Bill on the very same issue. The irony must not have been lost on Ms Hickey who vacted the Speaker’s chair dur­ing yes­ter­day’s de­bate.

The Bill im­poses manda­tory min­i­mum jail sen­tences for sex­ual as­saults on chil­dren and for as­saults of front­line work­ers in­clud­ing cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, am­bu­lance of­fi­cers, po­lice, nurses, mid­wives, med­i­cal or­der­lies, hospi­tal at­ten­dants and child safety of­fi­cers.

It was the most sig­nif­i­cant test as to where Ms Ogilvie’s al­le­giances lie since she re­placed La­bor’s Scott Ba­con when he re­signed from pol­i­tics in Au­gust.

In pre­sent­ing her ar­gu­ment to sup­port the Bill Ms Ogilvie sig­nalled she was for “sta­bil­ity in gov­ern­ment”.

Ms Ogilvie said while she was per­son­ally against manda­tory sen­tenc­ing she felt it was what the peo­ple of Tas­ma­nia wanted.

Her move sig­nals a change in the bal­ance of the

MS OGILVIE HAS SHOWN SHE’S HAPPY TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST LA­BOR, HER FOR­MER PARTY, WHO SHE FEELS TREATED HER POORLY. IT MAY BE A THEME FOR HER STAY IN THE HOUSE.

Lower House, with the Lib­er­als able to pass leg­is­la­tion if they can con­vince Ms Ogilvie to vote with them.

It gives the Gov­ern­ment some breath­ing room against Ms Hickey and blunts her power.

This is likely to mean an eas­ier run for the Gov­ern­ment un­til the next election and a headache for La­bor — which has dis­tanced it­self from the Greens.

Ms Ogilvie has shown she’s happy to take a stand against La­bor, her for­mer party, who she feels treated her poorly. It may be a theme for her stay in the House.

Her stance also un­der­lines the sus­pi­cion that so­cially lib­eral is­sues like euthana­sia will be harder to get up in this term.

The lat­est drama in the House may well be a good ar­gu­ment for in­creas­ing the size of the par­lia­ment to re­duce the chances of sin­gle mem­bers caus­ing havoc.

Aside from the political power play, the vote on manda­tory sen­tences demon­strates that it re­mains a di­vi­sive issue.

The Lib­er­als ar­gue that be­ing harder on child sex of­fend­ers and those who at­tack front­line work­ers demon­strates they are tough on crime. Those who op­pose the Bill — in­clud­ing The Law Coun­cil of Aus­tralia — say ev­i­dence shows manda­tory laws sim­ply don’t work and do lit­tle to de­ter crime.

The Gov­ern­ment tried and failed to in­tro­duce the laws in 2017 when it was de­feated in the Up­per House. It took the issue to the polls in March 2018 but was thwarted by Ms Hickey’s de­ci­sion to side with the Greens and La­bor in May.

The fu­ture of the Bill will face the Up­per House where one imag­ines it will once again at­tract close scru­tiny.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for all edi­to­rial com­ment is taken by the Edi­tor, Chris Jones, Level 1, 2 Sala­manca Square, Ho­bart, TAS, 7000

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