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Tattoo bill "deeply offends rule of law": Redmond

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Former Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond has broken ranks with her Liberal Party colleagues to oppose the State Government’s Bill to ban people who associate with members of criminal organisations from the tattoo industry.

Redmond told parliament yesterday that the Government’s Bill “offends deeply the idea of the rule of law” because, she said, innocent people could be penalised for criminal associations of which they may not even be aware.

The new law would make it an offence for someone associated with, or related to, a member of a prescribed criminal organisation to work in the tattoo industry.

“In my view, this legislation is simply an outrage, and I despair that this parliament, on both sides, is going to pass this Bill,” said Redmond.

“…this Bill offends everything that I think we should be standing for as a parliament.

“It criminalises people who have done nothing wrong.

“…the people who are being penalised by this are not entitled to know the case that is being mounted against them, they are not entitled to hear any of the evidence upon which that is based, and they are not going to be given an opportunity to make any controverting evidence.

“It gives them no opportunity to defend themselves.

“I simply say, once again, as I did on a previous occasion with the anti-bikie legislation, we will rue the day that we have ignored these fundamental principles which have served our country, our parliaments and our courts for so long.

“We are just casually throwing them away by passing legislation like this, all in the name of political expediency by an Attorney-General who does not care about the rule of law but simply wants to look tough on law and order.”

Attorney-General John Rau told InDaily in a statement this morning that “Ms Redmond is entitled to her opinion but she is, with respect, wrong and even within the Liberal party, a lone voice”.

“I don’t think it is appropriate to respond to comments made by members under the cover of parliamentary privilege which may not be so easily made elsewhere.” 

Redmond also told parliament that the definitions in the Bill were broad enough that innocent people could be caught in its net.

“Theoretically, technically, if you are the sibling, or a former partner, or you even briefly shared a house with someone, who – whether you knew it or not – was, or is, a member of a proscribed organisation, and you offered to give away to that person, or to some other person, your tattooing equipment … you are potentially going to be in breach of this legislation,” she said.

“… there are some 80 to 90 tattoo parlours in this state and I understand that the police acknowledge that, indeed, the vast majority of them are not, even in their opinion, connected with criminal activity, and yet we have these onerous provisions.”

Fellow Liberal MP Vincent Tarzia said his party was willing to give the Bill “a go”, but that “organised criminals are not silly – they will be looking for the next kind of business to be involved in”.

“I want to make the point that there are criminals in many types of organisations, not just the tattoo industry,” he said.

“What I would suggest is that this only addresses one piece of the jigsaw puzzle and there is much more to be done.”

Redmond’s intervention this week was not the first in which she has broken ranks with her own party since losing the leadership of the Liberal Party. Last year, she argued against a bipartisan move to ban commercial tanning salons.

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