Tattooing Industry Control Bill - 15 October 2015

Friday 05 February, 2016

Mr TARZIA ( Hartley ) ( 15:44 :23 ): Obviously, this bill has attracted extraordinary criticism from many stakeholders, including the owners and operators of tattoo parlours, as well as the Law Society of SA, the peak body that represents the legal fraternity in this state.

They say that it will force innocent business operators to close. I would encourage the Attorney to ensure that he satisfies the house in explaining what is fear and what is fact, and exactly how this bill will operate and result in the solution that he is after.

The Tattooing Industry Control Bill was introduced to the house on 10 September and it proposes to regulate but also stop the criminal infiltration of the tattooing industry. I want to pause for one second and make the point that for some reason the Attorney seems to be highlighting the tattoo industry for one reason or another. I want to make the point that there are criminals in many types of organisations, not just the tattoo industry.

For one reason or another, he is focusing on the tattoo industry. We are kidding ourselves if we think that by targeting solely the tattoo industry that the work is done on organised crime because we know that organised criminals are always ahead of legislation. They are called organised crime gangs because they are organised. You can bet your bottom dollar that by targeting one industry it does not mean that we have eradicated the problem.

Another thing I wish to highlight is that I hope that this sort of legislation will not punish what are legitimate businesses in this area because there are, like any sector, legitimate businesses and illegitimate businesses. By all means, if illegitimate businesses are operating illegally or in a manner that calls for such measures, then obviously they need action to be taken against them. But there are a number of legitimate business owners and legitimate businesses in this space, and so the Attorney has a duty to ensure that legitimate business owners will not be affected in the transition period that is focused on in this bill.

It is concerning to the Attorney, and obviously to others, that the tattoo parlour industry is somewhat unregulated in South Australia; however, other industries, such as, for example, pawn shops, are regulated in the Second-hand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act. This bill provides a negative licensing scheme for the industry that is the tattooing industry and makes other amendments to the Second-hand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act.

Under this bill, a person will be automatically and permanently disqualified from providing tattooing services if he or she is, firstly, a member of a prescribed organisation that is defined in the legislation; secondly, a close associate of a person who is a member of a prescribed organisation; or, thirdly, subject to a control order under the Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008.

That legislation was introduced in 2008, and it is very interesting to look at how many people have been subject to a control order under the Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008. I put it to the Attorney that it has not been many, and the reason it has not been many, if any, is that it highlights a flaw not just in this law but in much of the law—that is, that the police have ample powers much of the time to do their work and prosecutors have ample powers most of the time to do their work, and so the answer is not always to inflict more laws and more regulation on the people of South Australia all the time.

To continue the list, fourthly, if they are disqualified from providing tattooing services under a law of the commonwealth by any state or territory or, fifthly, if they are a person of a class prescribed by the regulations. I also note that the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs also has the power to disqualify a person under circumstances including if they have at any time in the previous five years been a member of a prescribed organisation, and there are significant offences if the legislation is not abided by.

There is a negative licensing scheme, and what that means is that a person must not provide tattooing services if the person is disqualified from providing tattooing services. For example, a licence is not required. The offence for doing so will be a maximum penalty of four years for a natural person, or $0.25 million for a body corporate.

The bill also allows for people to enter tattooing premises without a warrant and carry out general drug detection using a drug detection dog or an electronic drug detection system. The concern that has been brought to our attention is that people's liberties will be infringed without an acceptable reason or rationale behind it, and that is a legitimate concern with the legislation. I would encourage the Attorney to elaborate on what safeguards there are to ensure that people whose premises are entered into will not have their civil liberties infringed upon without due course.

It is estimated that there are somewhere between 80 to 90 tattoo parlours currently operating in South Australia, and most of these would be in metropolitan Adelaide. Obviously, the act that we are talking about, which relates to the Queensland Tattoo Parlours Act 2013, highlights that the Attorney, when it suits him and his government, is willing to look to interstate laws for ideas.

I would once again encourage him to look at what they recently did with drug trafficking in Queensland, where there is a bill before the house in regard to a Queensland improvement on drug trafficking. I notice that he has looked at the Queensland Tattoo Parlours Act, along with other legislation aimed at organised crime, and that this bill is similar in that regard. Obviously, this follows on from a long-term election promise by this government to remedy this issue.

We have a licensing or registration scheme for a number of businesses and, in any one of these registration schemes and licensing schemes, there obviously needs to be a balance regarding regulation, because regulation can provide a number of solutions that are beneficial to the business and also to the taxpayer and the public. However, we want to make sure that the requirements of the legislation are not onerous and do not overburden businesses that are already doing it tough paying the highest taxes in Australia and at a time when unemployment is the highest in Australia as well.

We are certainly willing to give it a go but, as I said in my earlier remarks, be under absolutely no illusion—organised criminals are not silly. They will be looking for the next kind of business to be involved in. I am not sure what that is, but they have many options. What I would suggest is that this only addresses one piece of the jigsaw puzzle and there is much more to be done.

The Hon. T.R. Kenyon interjecting:

Mr TARZIA: And you can vote on my drug trafficking bill as well. With those few remarks, I ask the Attorney to speak to some of those concerns that we have raised with the legislation. I look forward to that debate, and I commend the bill to the house.