Why your Legislative Council vote is so important

Meg Webb 2017, Gambling, News and Media, Uncategorized

In just a few days, Pembroke residents will head to the polls to cast their vote for their next representative in the Legislative Council.

But what does this really mean and how does the Legislative Council affect you?

Tasmania has three tiers of government – local councils, the House of Assembly, and the Legislative Council.

The Legislative Council can often seem relatively quiet compared to the lower house but this is the place there much of the legislation review occurs, where amendments can be introduced and where the final decisions are made.

When we have a majority government, legislation can be readily passed through the House of Assembly, the lower house, by the government of the day.

This is when the Legislative Council becomes the important, as it is made up of mostly independent members who are not bound to vote alongside any particular political party.

With the Pembroke by-election just around the corner, about 25,000 Tasmanians will soon have the opportunity to vote for their representative among the 15 members of the Legislative Council.

This election, to be held on November 4, includes seven candidates – three independents, one Greens, one Labor, one Liberal, and one from Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.

It is important to vote for the Legislative Council nominee who best represents you, as once a piece of legislation passes through the lower house, it will only become law if it is also passed by the upper house.

Key issues can be decided by the voting outcomes of the Legislative Council.

Poker machines in pubs and clubs has shaped up to be a major election issue, and the Social Action and Research Centre has long been advocating for poker machines to be confined to casinos.

We already know that freeing communities from poker machines could have life-changing, and often life-saving, effects on our society, and the debate over their removal could change the future of Tasmania.

With the current poker machine deed set to expire in 2023 and a decision on this to be made next year, we now have a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a positive change for the future of Tasmania.

If the total removal of pokies from pubs and clubs was ultimately decided upon, the deed would simply expire and it would not have to be debated further in the Parliament.

A final decision on this is yet to be made, and will ultimately lay in the hands of the government, which could change depending on the outcome of the upcoming March state election.

But, if it is not decided that poker machines should be removed from pubs and clubs, that things should stay as they are or that there be a new licencing arrangement, legislation will have to pass through the Parliament.

Any legislation will be passed through the lower house in favour of the government of the day, so this is where the Legislative Council becomes even more important.

If this is the case, Legislative Councillors will have the opportunity to vote on poker machine legislation. Their decision could go on to change the future of poker machines in Tasmania – whether they stay in pubs and clubs or whether our local suburbs are freed of them.

The Greens are calling for the complete removal of poker machines in pubs and clubs, the current Liberal Government wants to keep poker machines in pubs and clubs and licence individual venues, and Labor are yet to reveal thepokies policy they will take to the State election in March.

So, if you are a Pembroke resident, take the time to consider where you are going to cast your Legislative Council vote because your representative will have an important decision-making role to play in the future, including on the issue of poker machines.

Read more on poker machines:

Take action! Sign and share the open letter to the Premier calling for local suburbs to be free of poker machines: www.pokiescauseharm.org.au