Tuesday 26 March 2013


Hansard of the Legislative Council




8.50 p.m.


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, it is interesting to hear the comments of some of the honourable members. They certainly stimulated my thoughts and memories of incidents in my own life where you travel along your journey and there are people that you deal with who have dealt with mental illness. I know my dad was a manic depressive and had that issue for most of his time on returning from the war until he passed away, similar to the honourable member for Pembroke talking about her dad and the issues there, which have dramatic impacts on people's lives.


Always when I am talking to young people particularly, it is not hard to highlight the fine line between mental stability and when you might just tip over the edge and the stresses of life become those strong pressures. You can have life close in on you in some ways.


If you look at the statistics that you were talking about, honourable member for Launceston, we deal with it here as well, I am sure, in our own lives; a strong percentage of us have encountered situations. You always think it is unjust, something out of a Kafka novel where people were put away. It is sometimes fact and sometimes fantasy, and I have probably been watching too many old movies, but I am sure that in Tasmania that would have occurred. The family would have wanted to put somebody away to have fewer issues in their lives. Thankfully those times are long gone, Madam President. It remains the case that those with mental illness sometimes have too little say about their future. This bill clears up some of those uncertainties.


It was interesting to hear the talk about the consultation. How many times have I got up here and banged on about the fact that the government says that they have consulted and then when you drill down - what was it something the honourable member -


Mr Mulder - They have been convincing rather than consulting.


Mr FINCH - It is a lovely line. Thank you for that. That did resonate with me because I have often talked about that lack of consultation. It seems that in this case on this important issue there has been that consultation and there has been the work done by the committee to clarify a lot of our circumstances and situations around this bill.


The bill for the first time makes a distinction between those with a mental illness who can make decisions about treatment and those who cannot. Historically, of course, this was not the case and the current act, in fact, enables a person to be treated without consent and for a person to be detained without being treated, so I suppose disgusting is probably not too strong a word for that scenario. This bill puts that right. I therefore wholly support it. I do not think this is the end of the argument about mental illness in our community, but it is a beginning.


I did assign somebody to do some research for me and honourable leader, you might make note of some of the comments that I am about to make because you might give me an answer in your reply to the second reading speeches.


The report that I received was:


Overall the provisions of the bill are a much sought-after clarification of the persons responsible for the identification, certification, management and treatment of persons with mental health disabilities. There is recognition that the patient has rights and entitlements that previously have not been clearly stated. However, there appears to be scant recognition of the right of a close relative, that is a spouse, parent or de facto, to know what treatment is being given to the patient and to be able to freely visit the patient. There is a provision for documents to be given to the patient, but not to the relative or other person concerned for the welfare of the patient.


That was a comment that came from the investigation into the bill. However, I support the bill.