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