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Government Ministers Urged to Support Decriminalisation of Begging in Tasmania

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Tags: Begging, Justice, Poverty

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader 

The Greens today tabled legislation to amend the Police Offences Act 1935 to remove a throwback provision that makes criminals of people who feel they are forced to beg for money.

The current law was drafted in the days of the Great Depression, when poverty and the lack of a welfare safety net drove people to beg for money and food for survival. 

It has no place in a contemporary, compassionate society and that's why we've tabled this amendment Bill.

If someone is so down on their luck they feel they have no choice but to beg, what they need is help and support, not the punitive hand of an outdated, harsh law.

We strongly urge the Liberals in government to take this issue seriously. 

According to the Australian Lawyers' Alliance, two Tasmanians have been charged under this law in the past six months.  Under the Act, they face a penalty of six months in gaol, or a fine totalling almost $800.

The government must know this law is unfair.  Our amendment Bill gives the Liberals and Labor a chance to modernise and make fair the law's response to Tasmanians experiencing poverty.