Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Leader
Despite long-standing calls for reform, and previous attempts by the Greens to force change, the act of begging remains a criminal offence in Tasmania. This outdated and unfair law has no place in our modern society, which is why in Parliament next week we will again table a Bill to change the law and decriminalise begging.
With the cost of living crisis deepening, more and more Tasmanians are being pushed into extreme poverty and forced to resort to begging just so they can pay for a meal. This is a terrible situation, but it’s made worse by the fact that under current laws people in such hardship can be spent to jail or cop a hefty fine.
The law to make begging a criminal offence was enacted nearly 100 years ago, in the days of the Great Depression. It has no place in a compassionate and modern Tasmania.
The Greens have been pushing to decriminalise begging for many years, with Bills introduced to Parliament in 2016 and 2018. The Liberals voted down our last attempt at this reform, promising they would instead change the law themselves – but to this day begging remains a criminal offence in Tasmania.
We have been pushing this change for so long because we believe if someone is in a situation so desperate that they resort to begging, they clearly need help and support - not the punitive hand of an outdated, harsh law. With a noticeable increase in the number of Tasmanians now being forced to beg, the importance of removing begging as a crime is greater than ever.
I have written to the Liberals, Labor, and crossbench today to advise them of our intention to introduce this Bill, that we plan to debate it this year, and to offer them a briefing if they wish.
Our Bill provides the Parliament with an opportunity to make Tasmania a fairer and kinder place. We hope all MPs will agree with the need for change, and will offer their support to pass this important reform.