GS reps on nanny state probe

By Chris Thomson | posted on September 8, 2018

THREE of five politicians on a new parliamentary committee charged with reporting on so-called ‘nanny state’ laws have seats that together span the entire Great Southern region.

On the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety are Labor MLC Sally Talbot and Liberal MLC Steve Thomas whose South West electoral region takes in the Great
Southern municipalities of Albany, Denmark, Plantagenet and Jerramungup.

The Agricultural Region represented by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Rick Mazza, a third member of the committee, covers the Great Southern shires of Katanning, Kojonup,
Cranbrook, Gnowangerup, Woodanilling, Broomehill-Tambellup and Kent.

None of the three parliamentarians is yet permitted to speak publicly about the inquiry that was only convened last week, but committee chair Aaron Stonehouse, the MLC for South Metropolitan, is.

“Speaking as a member of parliament and not as the chair of the committee, I’m a member of the Liberal Democrats, which is a party of small government, low tax and personal choice,” said Rockingham-based Mr Stonehouse, who lobbied hard for the inquiry to be initiated.

“Fighting against the nanny state and against paternalistic regulation is a big part of what the Liberal Democrats stand for, not because any individual regulation or law is a nuisance but because, taken collectively, it is a question about who is in charge of our lives.

“It’s my view and the Liberal Democrat philosophy that individuals should be making their own choices and free to live their lives, perhaps do silly things like ride their bike without a helmet, so long as they’re not hurting anybody else.”

On an issue of key concern to Dr Talbot and Mr Thomas’ South Coast constituents, and to Mr Mazza’s fishing backers – that of Premier Mark McGowan’s recently mooted mandating of
life jackets for rock fishers at dangerous spots, Mr Stonehouse said the government should tread cautiously.

“In some cases you should be wearing a life jacket, but again the idea of a blanket approach here, I’m quite cautious of, because not everyone fishing from rocks is necessarily in a situation where they may be washed out to sea,” he said.

“I’m not [necessarily] against the idea that there would be specific areas [such as Albany’s treacherous Salmon Holes fishing spot] that could be targeted.

“I would rather people have their choice, but if we are going to have some kind of mandate, having it at least targeted is my preferred option.”

Mr Stonehouse’s committee will look specifically into laws that regulate the use of things including e-cigarettes, bicycle helmets and life jackets for kayakers.

Broadening the scope of the inquiry potentially to any number of laws is a term of reference that states “any other measures introduced to restrict personal choice for individuals as a means of preventing harm to themselves”.

The public can have its say on the inquiry until Friday, October 5, and Mr Stonehouse said he hoped submissions would flood in.

“My electorate office has been inundated with complaints about nanny state laws and regulations since I announced that we would be establishing this committee,” he said.

The committee is yet to decide if hearings will be held in regional Western Australia.

The Liberal Democratic Party was founded in Canberra in 2001. Mr Stonehouse is the party’s only representative in the WA Parliament.