Wednesday 21 June 2017
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Government Attitude to Legislative Council Votes


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, that speech was made unbeknownst to me.  I am not part of the Labor bloc.

That is what my adjournment speech was going to be about because we are under an indirect threat - or is it a direct threat?  We need to be aware of it.  We need to be able to explain our role, and the democratic importance of what we do, to the people of Tasmania.  It is because of what the member is highlighting there that my concern is increasing about the way we are being treated and viewed.

Sometimes it is hard to understand and to quantify what goes on in social media.  I know that was a press release but there is also shifty work afoot in social media.  Social media can be easily manipulated by individuals, by self‑interested organisations, political parties and - shock, horror - even by governments.  It can be dangerous to our society and our democratic values if it is used negatively.

There seems to be a campaign going on to denigrate Tasmania's upper House.  I get a sense of that.  It seems to have festered since our last election and the inclusion here of a party person in the House.  Articles are appearing, we have all been commenting this week.  There was an ABC story that went to air that I thought was having a real shot at the fact that the Legislative Council might have too much power.  It suggested that the Legislative Council's power to block state budgets, although it is not an issue here, should be curtailed.  That discussion is an old chestnut.

There seems to be some sort of proxy war.  A lot of it is about the fact that we are closely scrutinising and sometimes voting down state Government bills and there seems to be political frustration at work here.  Someone even suggested sour grapes, but that is the way the cookie crumbles.  We have been sent here by the people of Tasmania.  They are the numbers, they are the people who are evaluating the legislation here.

For me to be thrown in with some sort of Labor bloc is insulting to me, and I am sure it is insulting to other independent members who go about their research and make their decision on the evidence that comes before them.  It is insulting to think that you are being manipulated by a party.  That is just the way the cookie is crumbling on the evidence that is presented and the bills that come before us.

I tell you, if they are good bills I will support them.  If they are lousy bills, they will not get my support.  I do not need to go to a Labor bloc to check to see where my vote should be going.  It is insulting to be considered that way.

Mr President, we are living in a new world of political turmoil:  the manipulation of news and also the overturning of the old political order.  That is going on as well, but it seems the hardworking members of this House are beginning to be caught up in all of that. 

As I said earlier, we must continue to explain our relevance to democracy in Tasmania, how we act independently of the government, and how we keep the government to account in the interests of all Tasmanians.  That is our job.  That is my job, and that is the way I view my job.  We are all prepared and we welcome scrutiny but some so‑called scrutiny and manipulation can threaten our democratic role and we must be aware of this.