News Today: Nominations for the Tasmanian Volunteering Awards are now open!
Volunteers are working hard in every community in Tasmania. They represent the third biggest workforce in our State, yet too often their impact goes unseen. The Tasmanian Volunteering Awards officially recognises the vast number and variety of volunteers and celebrates all volunteering across Tasmania.
Our own community has some amazing volunteers who give up their time to make our community better; help to recognise and celebrate an individual volunteer – nominate one now and make their day!
Nominations can be made by visiting here
The Tasmanian Volunteering Awards are an initiative of Volunteering Tasmania and are supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Rob Valentine is the Independent Member for Hobart in the Tasmanian Legislative Council, elected in May 2012 for a 6-year term. He is intending to re-contest this position again in early May this year, 2018.
Rob has also served for 20 years in Local Government including over 12 years as Lord Mayor of Hobart.
During his term in Parliament Rob has been very busy and engaged, serving on a number of Standing and Sessional Committees – a significant workload in itself, given the nature of them – Estimates and Government Business Scrutiny and more recently the Joint Standing Committees of Subordinate Legislation, Public Works and Integrity.
Rob has made Committees of Inquiry a real focus of his activity in Parliament, participating in many over his 6 year term and covering areas such as water & sewerage, preventative health, health services, education, racing, the Electoral Commission, built heritage tourism, aboriginal lands, forestry and transport matters, chairing two of those enquiries. He is certainly not afraid of hard work. He also serves on the State Branch Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Rob has dealt with significantly contentious legislation on matters such as anti-discrimination, review of the Education Act, reproductive health, same-sex marriage, surrogacy, water & sewerage corporation matters and the seemingly endless issue of forestry – nevertheless important to address.
Legislation dealing with the cable car project facilitation on kunanyi/Mt Wellington, expansion of the taxi and hire car industry through the introduction of Uber-style operations, mandatory sentencing in its various forms, future gaming markets, wage-freezing, protesters, and strategic infrastructure (rail corridors) have also been among other Bills to prompt significant community feedback and concern.
More straightforward matters such as regulating power-assisted pedal cycles, plastic shopping bags or simple amendments to legislation that achieves a nationally consistent approach 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 when ‘learning the ropes’, not always pleasant, as with most jobs – especially given some of the issues that have caused significant community division in the lead-up to debates.
“We may not always appreciate the way that certain members of the community put their point of view forward, but it is a democracy and they are passionate and it is the role of Parliamentary members to listen to and consider the concerns raised”.
The Role of the Legislative Council and ‘Mandates’
The issue of ‘mandate’ often raises its head during election periods and this year, in the 2018 Lower House election, it is proving no different.
“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. A Government claiming to have a mandate to pursue a certain policy or course of action is, in some way, trying to nullify the responsibility of the Legislative Council or ‘House of Review’ as it is often called, by virtually suggesting it is the people’s wish and the legislation shouldn’t be tampered with. No matter how convinced the Government of the day may be that their desire is the desire of the people, no legislation should escape proper scrutiny. In my opinion, the only mandate the Government of the day has it to have a policy placed on the agenda and due process should then occur, negotiating the path through both houses”.
That said, Rob believes, however, the role of the Upper House is not fully understood within the community and there is room for some degree of public debate on the role.
“The Upper House is not always appreciated and is sometimes 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 in my view”.
Rob says it is worth noting that 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 and will play out at election time.”
Learn about the history and function of the Legislative Council here
Learn about Parliament of Tasmania Committees here
Learn what is happening in the Legislative Council today
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!