Rob Valentine is the Independent Member for Hobart in the Tasmanian Legislative Council, elected in May 2012 for a 6 year term.
Rob served for 20 years in Local Government including over 12 years as Lord Mayor of Hobart prior to being elected in May 2012 to the Legislative Council – Tasmania’s Upper House of Parliament – as the Independent Member for the seat of Hobart.
The broad range of Bills introduced into Parliament since then has given Rob the opportunity to keep very busy and engaged; he has dealt with a number of significantly contentious bills on matters such as surrogacy, same sex marriage, water & sewerage corporation mergers, reproductive health and the seemingly endless issue of forestry. Wage freeze and protest legislation have been among other bills to cause significant community concern.
More straightforward matters such as power-assisted pedal cycles or plastic shopping bags still have their complexities and require an investment of time to carefully consider all the details and make informed decisions on the facts. Rob has found his role as the Independent Member for Hobart exciting, certainly challenging but not always pleasant, given the hard decisions that need to be made.
“It is my firm view that while it is the Government’s duty to develop policy in the House of Assembly according to its wishes and stated objectives in the lead-up to a state election, it is for the Upper House to look for those unintended consequences and to apply fairness and consistency tests to such legislation before it becomes law”.
Rob believes however the role of the Upper house is not universally agreed or fully understood within the community and that there is room for some degree of public debate on the role.
“The Upper House is not always appreciated and is often seen as a block to the wishes of the government of the day. I believe in reality, so long as it maintains its focus as a House of Review, it is a moderating influence and provides a check and balance to the implementation of the desires of Government.
It is my firm view the Upper House would not be performing its proper duty of scrutiny if it simply behaved as a rubber stamp to the wishes of Government, effectively becoming a unicameral entity rather than the bicameral Parliament we are mandated to uphold in the Constitution Act of Tasmania 1934”.
Should the Upper House become a rubber stamp then it would be time to seek structural change, for its purpose is not to set policy.
Rob says it is worth noting that in recent times both conservative and radical thinkers have variously praised and condemned the Upper house for its actions.
“The Upper House is truly reflective of the Tasmanian populace and such concurrent praise and condemnation is evidence that it is performing its duty. As to how well that duty is being performed of course will always be in the eye of the beholder.”
Learn about the history and function of the Legislative Council here
Rob has been a member of several parliamentary committees. His involvement with the Legislative Council’s Government Administration ‘A’ Sessional Committee has seen inquiries into Integrated Transport Options, the Aboriginal Lands Amendment and Reproductive Health. This sessional committee has also scrutinised several government departments and government business enterprises (GBEs).
Rob is currently a member of the Legislative Council’s Government Administration ‘B’ Sessional Committee which is undertaking an electoral inquiry and has formed a sub-committee to inquire into the administration of Tasmania’s built heritage, especially its relationship with tourism. Rob is the chairperson of this committee.
Other committees of which Rob is a member are the re-constituted Preventative Health and Library committees, with membership from both houses of Parliament and he is a member of the Joint Select Committee into Greyhound Racing in Tasmania. He also serves on the State Branch Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Learn about Parliament of Tasmania Committees here
Rob’s door at Parliament House and, more conveniently for all, his email Inbox – email@example.com – is always open to constituents who wish to pass comment on any legislation before the Legislative Council – he is a good listener!