TATTOO PARLOURS BILL 2012
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George):
Order! I call the member for Keira.
Mr Kevin Conolly:
Show us your tatts.
Mr RYAN PARK
(Keira) [7.38 p.m.]: Despite the interjection—
The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George):
Order! The member for Keira has not even started his contribution. I remind members that interjections are disorderly at all times. The member for Keira will be heard in silence.
Mr RYAN PARK:
In response to that interjection I state for the record that I do not have any tattoos. My father has a tattoo and he vowed to ensure that his son never got one. Not based on this bill but based on a fear of my father, I do not have a tattoo. The Opposition supports the Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012, which is important legislation. On occasions I can be critical of the Government but because of the hard work of Ms Tanya Mihailuk, the member for Bankstown, shadow Minister for Fair Trading, shadow Minister for Healthy Lifestyles, and shadow Minister for Volunteering and Youth; Mr Nathan Rees, the member for Toongabbie, shadow Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and shadow Minister for the Arts; and Mr John Robertson, the Leader of the Opposition, we have driven the Government to the point where it introduced this bill.
Mr Gareth Ward:
Point of order—
The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George):
What is the member's point of order?
Mr Gareth Ward:
My point of order relates to relevance under Standing Order 76. What members of the Opposition do is not relevant.
Order! There is no point of order.
Mr RYAN PARK:
It is important to ensure that people on both sides of the House understand what this bill is about. This bill is not about attacking legitimate business owners. The member for Myall Lakes and others stated that tattoo art has become popular in recent years. It is far more popular than when generation X was in its youth. This important issue goes to the heart of law enforcement in this State. Opposition members will support the bill because the police want this bill enacted. Opposition members understand that when the police require specific powers, they also need bipartisan support. I am proud to be a member of a party that is above politics and that is able to give police bipartisan support to ensure they can crack down on outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Despite all the toy runs and the things that outlaw motorcycle gangs do to mask the fact that they are anything other than criminals, they are known by members in this place and by members of the community in western Sydney as nothing more than criminal organisations. Outlaw motorcycle gangs can do 100 toy runs every day of every week but in reality they are organised crime groups in our communities. We have seen the carnage that they are wreaking daily in western Sydney, frightening and scaring innocent people in our communities. As a former chief of staff to a police Minister I know that at times it is important for proposed legislation to move quickly through the Parliament. This legislation should not be held up if it results in preventing the hardworking men and women in the NSW Police Force from doing their jobs. The former Ministry of Police supports this legislation. We must give police officers the powers they are seeking, which is why Opposition members give this bill their bipartisan support.
I want to ensure—and I will be listening carefully to the Minister's response—that appropriate legal advice has been sought to make this bill as strong as possible in the event that it is subject to a legal challenge. From past experience, governments have learnt that outlaw motorcycle gangs are well resourced and able to employ the services of legal teams to protect their criminal activities. I ask the Minister in reply to inform members of any advice he has received from the Solicitor General and from appropriate legal departments and organisations that confirms this legislation is as robust as possible. Opposition members are happy to support the bill but we want to ensure that such advice has been sought. I put the Government on notice that Opposition members will be holding it to account to ensure that NSW Fair Trading and the police have the resources that are required to target tattoo parlours that are fronts for organised criminal activity.
Legislation that has received bipartisan support must provide adequate resources to crack down on illegal activity in tattoo parlours. Opposition members want to ensure that NSW Fair Trading, in conjunction with the NSW Police Force, have the resources that are needed to enable them to enforce this bill. The bill outlines a number of powers that police officers will be given to search tattoo parlours. However, in three to six months time we do not want to debate amending legislation because police officers and officials from the Office of Fair Trading have not been given adequate resources to deliver on this Government's commitments. This is one of the largest law enforcement issues with which we have been faced in recent years.
Members on this side of the House know that we cannot sit idly by and allow these criminals to continue to terrorise local communities and innocent families, because it could soon be that an innocent child, father, mother or grandparent will be killed or maimed by their criminal behaviour. I was speaking to a constituent in my electorate who raised concerns about this matter and asked, "Is it just a case of baddies shooting baddies?" I said, "No, it's not, although it may seem like that." I explained that the reason is very simple. Many members in this place who have been involved in law enforcement—whether as police officers or members of the legal fraternity or, in my case, as chief of staff to a police Minister—know that, as we are told in many briefings by police and the ministry, while these criminals are intent on getting the person they are after, it only takes a simple mistake such as confusing the target address as 81 Smith Street instead of 18 Smith Street, or Smith Street with some other street, or targeting the wrong tenant, and an innocent person is killed or maimed by these criminal actions.
When I explained that, the constituent clearly understood the need to ensure this Government does everything possible, particularly in western Sydney at the moment, to crack down on this type of activity. We on this side of the House will continue to back the police; and I expect Government members to do likewise. Bipartisan support in this place is one thing; but we need to ensure that the men and women on the ground from the NSW Police Force and NSW Fair Trading have the resources necessary to make this legislation meaningful. Police must have the resources they need to carry out the important work they do to crack down on this criminal behaviour and improve the safety of everyone in our communities.
Mr MARK COURE
(Oatley) [7.42 p.m.]: First, I thank members from both sides who have supported the Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012, which aims to stop shady and criminal activities. The bill is about getting tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. This Government is leading by example with the passage of such important legislation. I welcome the Opposition's support for this sensible legislation to clean up the industry. Members on this side of the House support this legislation to tackle the mess that has been around for many years. It gives me great pleasure to contribute to this debate and support this legislation, which is necessary to help address an ongoing issue in our community.
A number of tattoo parlours have strong links with outlaw motorcycle gangs and serve as a symbol of a gang's presence and influence. The spate of shootings over recent months has demonstrated this link, as tattoo parlours have often been targets of the shootings. This is unacceptable given the risks to the community of injury or death. There is also the fact that honest businesspeople who operate tattoo parlours are often subject to negative community sentiment as a result of conducting those businesses. Further, there are reports of parlour operators being stood over or threatened because their parlours are not affiliated with any particular bikie club. This regulation will be an important step in breaking the nexus between bikies and tattoo parlours. Legitimate business operators need confidence that their businesses are not being undermined by employees who have links to bikie gangs or that their legitimate operation will be a potential target.
The bill will create two categories of licence—for the operator and the tattooist—and will be regulated by NSW Fair Trading. This scheme will not include cosmetic and medical tattooing; it will apply only to body art tattooing. Licences will be issued on the recommendation of the Commissioner of Police after the making of fit and proper person and public interest inquiries in respect of the applicant. I want to acknowledge the Ministers involved with this important legislation, the Minister for Police and the Minister for Fair Trading. Importantly, "controlled members" of a declared criminal organisation will not be able to hold licences. This will assist in weeding out criminal elements from the industry. Members on this side of the House are cleaning up the tattoo industry once and for all. Should a licence be denied, an applicant will have the recourse of appeal to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, unless the applicant is subject to a control order under the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act. Additionally, the bill will give police the power to use drug detection and firearms and explosives detection dogs in tattoo parlours at a reasonable time without a warrant.
Furthermore, the Commissioner of Police will have the power to close an unlicensed tattoo parlour for 72 hours where illegal activity is occurring. Escalating penalties are introduced to ensure that this measure hits the criminal elements where it hurts most—in the hip pocket. Licence fees and reporting on any changes to employees will bring regulatory rigour to the industry and deter criminal elements from masking operations by employing a member of a proscribed organisation as a cleaner or in some such role. This is important reform to combat criminal elements in our community who use tattoo parlours as a front for their activities. The community is clearly concerned about tattoo parlours, and the industry needs to be cleaned up to ease community concerns and assist legitimate businesses.
A recent decision to prevent a tattoo parlour setting up in Beverly Hills and Hurstville raised grave concerns in my community; a number of petitions landed on my desk. This legislation is overdue. It will once and for all break the strong criminal link with the tattoo industry, outlawing motorcycle gangs from involvement with tattoo parlours. Tattoo parlours are a symbol of gang presence in any area. For this reason tattoo parlours are often the target of violence and malicious damage, such as drive-by shootings, firebombing and arson. This has occurred in areas close to my electorate. Police are aware of numerous incidents in which members of outlaw motorcycle gangs have stood over, threatened and attempted to extort money from owners of tattoo studios not affiliated with bikie groups. It is inappropriate in the extreme that organised criminals should be permitted to maintain such a stranglehold over this industry. That is why the Government is proposing this legislation.
There is also a real risk that tattoo parlours are used by bikies to launder the proceeds of crime. The Government believes that serious criminal penetration of organised crime in the tattoo industry has resulted in tattoo parlours becoming an unsafe environment for staff in this industry. Tattooists and other workers should not have to go to work in fear of being shot or firebombed because of a bikie war. By the same token, tattoo parlour business owners who are unaffiliated with gangs should not live in fear of extortion or being stood over or attacked. The only way to end this situation is to ensure that licensed applicants and licensees are subject to checks regarding criminal history and criminal intelligence. That is why I support this legislation.
Mr STEPHEN BROMHEAD
(Myall Lakes) [7.48 p.m.]: I speak in support of the Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012. The object of the bill is to create a licensing and regulatory scheme for the carrying on of body art tattooing businesses and the performing of body art tattooing procedures. The bill aims to reduce the involvement of organised criminals in the tattoo industry in New South Wales by establishing a new regulatory scheme for owners, operators and tattooists. The people of New South Wales are justly concerned about the influence of outlaw motorcycle gangs on the tattoo industry in this State. The Government announced that legislation would be introduced to give police and other authorities power to stop or limit money laundering as well as drug and firearm trafficking.
Tattoo parlours are known to be heavily associated with organised crime, particularly outlaw motorcycle gangs. Tattoo parlours are frequently the target of violent attacks, including drive-by shootings, firebombings and arson. Business owners attempting to operate a tattoo parlour that has no affiliation with organised crime have been subjected to extortion attempts and violence. There have been many news reports of the firebombing of tattoo parlours, particularly in metropolitan areas. I have spoken in the House many times about Myall Lakes on the picturesque mid North Coast where the sun always shines, the sea is blue, dolphins swim in the water and everybody wants to retire or holiday there. But even in a town as small as Forster-Tuncurry there is a tattoo parlour.
The tattoo parlour was opened several years ago by the Rebels motorcycle gang. Forster-Tuncurry has a population now of about 18,000 but back then it was about 16,000. A population of that size had a tattoo parlour employing nine full-time employees with no-one in the waiting room. What were they doing? It was obvious: The Rebels bikie gang was running an amphetamine operation and was using the tattoo parlour to launder the drug money. Nine people were on the wage books getting paid a full-time wage not from the proceeds of the tattoo business but from drug money. The Rebels also opened up a clubhouse in an industrial area in Tuncurry and, besides selling drugs, were involved in prostitution and the illegal sale of alcohol at the clubhouse. The police in Forster-Tuncurry were well aware of the Rebels' activities.
Bikies being bikies, they could not just run the business and make a profit, they wanted to be heavies and get involved in other activities. As a result of their other crimes, such as assaulting innocent people, brawls and the like, the police were able to target them and eventually drive them out. When they left, another bikie president took over the tattoo business and moved it to Tuncurry. I received information last weekend that the police believe he has onsold the business and has gone. That is one example of what these outlaw motorcycles are all about: drug manufacture, the sale of drugs and laundering money through tattoo businesses.
The Attorney General and the member for Hawkesbury spoke about young people and their tattoos. It is unfortunate that tattoos are a fad because by getting tattoos young people are supporting drug businesses, supporting gangs and supporting outlaws and criminals. The purpose of this bill is to attack those gangs, and one way to do it is by attacking their business—attacking their hip pocket by taking away the money-laundering side of their business. NSW Fair Trading will join with the NSW Police Force to attack the gangs where it hurts. On television last week we saw a number of gangs talking about how this legislation is targeted at them, how it will hurt them and how it will ruin their lifestyle.
The introduction of laws to tackle the problem of gangs is not new. Back in the 1930s when we had the razor gang wars the then Government introduced consorting laws as a means for police to target those gang members. That is what we have done. We have toughened those consorting laws and we have made it easier for police to arrest people under those laws. We have introduced this legislation, which backs up the consorting laws, and earlier this year we introduced the criminal organisation laws to make it easier for police to prove that a person was consorting with a member or members of a gang.
We have introduced heavier penalties for crimes where a gun is involved. Police have made 555 arrests for criminal offences involving a gun. We have established a police task force and the New South Wales Crime Commission and now we have joined NSW Fair Trading and the NSW Police Force to work together to tackle this issue. History shows that Al Capone and Abe Saffron were brought to justice not for their many crimes but for tax evasion. It is the same with these gangs: We are using various methods to target them and bring them to justice. These drive-by shootings have not just happened since 26 March last year; they started in 1998, peaked in 2002 and continue to occur. This legislation is part of a suite of strategies that the Government is using to attack these gangs and bring them to justice. We are supporting the police.
The member for Keira spoke as though drive-by shootings are new occurrences. As I said, drive-by shootings have increased since 1998, peaking in 2002. The member for Keira also said that he hoped that the legislation has been carefully scrutinised because he does not want it to fail. Once again, that is looking at this Government through the eyes of a Labor Party member. The legislation of the previous Government failed in the High Court. This legislation will not fail like the Labor Party's legislation did. This legislation is part of a suite of mechanisms to attack these gangs and to stop their money laundering. But we need the Federal Labor Party to do its part. We are introducing legislation in New South Wales to attack these gangs but a tsunami of illegal guns is coming to Australia through our porous borders.
The Federal Government cannot stop the boats and it cannot stop the guns. The New South Wales Labor Opposition has to talk to its mates in Canberra and ask them to man the ports and bring in legislation to stop firearms parts being imported into Australia. The New South Wales Labor Opposition says that this legislation does not go far enough. We have introduced a raft of measures, yet for 16 years the Labor Party did absolutely nothing. These problems have been occurring since 1998, and the Labor Party did nothing. It makes one wonder whether they wanted to do anything about it. The Opposition should get onto its Labor Party mates in Canberra and tell them to stop the guns coming into this country.
Mr Ryan Park:
I'm onto them now.
Mr STEPHEN BROMHEAD:
The member for Keira says he is onto them now. He may laugh and joke about it, but this is a serious matter.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gareth Ward):
Order! I remind the member for Keira that he is not permitted to use phones in the Chamber.
Mr STEPHEN BROMHEAD:
The people of western Sydney are very upset about these drive-by shootings. The Government is taking this issue seriously and we have introduced legislation. The New South Wales Labor Government did nothing for 16 years; we are doing the work now. As I said earlier today, the Liberal-Nationals, not Labor, are the party for western Sydney and the workers. I support the bill.
Mr TONY ISSA
(Granville) [7.58 p.m.]: I am pleased that both sides of the House support this legislation to put an end to outlaw motorcycle gangs. However, I do not give credit to members on the other side because, as the member for Myall Lakes said, they should have done something at least 10 years ago. I support the Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012. Recent events in my electorate of Granville have highlighted the urgent need for measures to deal with drive-by shootings. Only last month a drive-by shooting of a tattoo parlour took place around the corner from my office in Merrylands. I stress that it is the police, not I, who believe that tattoo parlour is owned by a bikie gang. On 16 April shots were fired into the security shutter of Infamous Ink. The business was unoccupied at the time and bullet casings were found on the opposite side of the street. The police are familiar with the owners of this tattoo parlour and it is believed they are linked to outlaw motorcycle gangs. It is also believed they are not registered tattoo artists.
It is clear from police investigations that drive-by shootings are strongly linked to outlaw motorcycle gangs, and that link must be broken. It is understood that the shootings can be directly linked to simmering tensions between rival bikie gangs, as many of these people either own or work in tattoo parlours. I support this legislation because it goes to the root cause of the spate of drive-by shootings that have been terrifying the peaceful people who live in my community. It is clear that over the years tattoo parlours have become symbols of gang warfare. The strong links between the tattoo industry and outlaw bikie gangs need to be broken.
This legislation proposes that heavier penalties apply to bikie gangs operating tattoo parlours. It will guarantee that their oxygen supply is cut off in order to bring an end to these violent drive-by shootings and, most importantly, ensure the safety of the community. It will achieve this by the imposition of heavier penalties on tattoo parlours operating outside the new regulations. The bill also introduces a licensing and regulatory regime for the operation of tattoo parlours. In future, people applying for a licence to run a tattoo parlour will be granted a licence only if they are deemed fit and proper. The bill further makes it compulsory for people practising body art tattooing to obtain a licence.
To ensure that the legislation is effective there are provisions in the bill to regulate different types of tattooing, such as body art tattooing. Currently, cosmetic and medical tattooists are subject to regulation under the Public Health Act 1991, the Public Health (Skin Penetration) Regulation 2000 and the Skin Penetration Code of Best Practice. This legislation does not apply to them because it would make no difference to limiting the criminal activity within the tattoo parlour industry. Limiting this criminal activity is a top priority for the Government. By introducing certain regulations into the industry we have a better chance of severing links between these businesses and organised crime, thereby reducing the level of violence that has become deeply linked to it.
The Government is determined to shut down the link because police have found that certain tattoo parlours have become not only bikie hangouts but also fronts for illegal drugs and firearms distribution. For example, in 2010 police seized drugs, guns and knives from an inner west tattoo parlour. Since then, the gangs have stepped up the violence to dangerous levels, as we have witnessed this year. Under the bill the police will have the power to shut down tattoo parlours that fail to comply with the regulations. This also applies to premises where police may be suspicious that serious crimes are being committed. The closure of a business can be on a short-term basis—for example up to 72 hours—or, if there is sufficient evidence, police can apply to the Local Court for long-term closure. These are similar to provisions that apply in the New South Wales Liquor Act.
Until the introduction of this bill, bikie gangs that were known to be involved in drive-by shootings and firebombings were allowed to continue to operate. Some of the enforcement provisions in this legislation allow police to employ drug and firearms searches to detect unlawful activities in tattoo parlours. Under the provisions, police will not be required to produce a warrant to conduct these searches. This means that tattoo parlour operators will have no prior warning that a search will be conducted. If we are serious about ending the link between the tattoo industry and organised crime we must give the police the power to conduct searches at locations where they know illegal activity is occurring. It is an integral part of the Government's determination to introduce laws that will reduce gun-related crimes and make the community safe.
My constituents have expressed their alarm to me at the number of drive-by shootings that have occurred in the Granville electorate. Recently I had the pleasure of hosting a visit to Merrylands by the police Minister, the Hon. Michael Gallacher. The Minister spoke to many local people to assure them that the Government is doing everything possible to address the problem. This legislation is part of the process. I congratulate the Minister for Fair Trading on taking the tough decision to introduce this bill to the Parliament. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr ANDREW GEE
(Orange) [8.05 p.m.]: I support the Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012. It is an important piece of legislation that is well crafted and has many different dimensions. I will draw the attention of the House to some of the salient features of the bill. The bill creates offences relating to unlicensed body art. Clause 6 of the bill encompasses licensed operators and tattooists. The penalties for operators breaching the provisions are very strong. A corporation that has committed an offence faces a fine of $11,000 and, in the case of the offence continuing, 100 penalty units for each day the offence continues. In the case of an individual it is $5,500 and 50 penalty units each day the offence continues. Similar provisions for individual tattooists who breach the Act are contained in clause 7. Clause 8 makes it an offence for a person to employ an individual to work as a body art tattooist unless the individual is the holder of a tattooist licence. Clause 8 contains penalties similar to those in clause 7. This is an all-encompassing piece of legislation that is designed to catch operators and tattooists and people who employ individuals to work as body art tattooists.
Division 2 of the bill deals with applications for the granting of licences. At the outset clause 11 provides for licence applications to be made to the director general. The bill contains some interesting provisions with respect to licence applications. Clause 13 requires an applicant for a licence to consent to be fingerprinted and palm printed as a condition to his or her application being determined by the director general. Applicants for tattoo industry licences will be required to have their palm and fingerprints checked against a national database as part of the probity assessment for a licence. Fingerprints and palm prints will be taken using live scan machines located in a range of police stations across New South Wales, making it easy for licence applicants to complete this part of the process. This provision mirrors the processes already in place for security industry licence applicants and will ensure that a thorough probity assessment of each licence applicant can be conducted. It is important to highlight that part of the legislation.
Clause 15 of the bill will enable the director general and the Commissioner of Police to require further information to be provided in connection with a licence application. Clause 16 authorises the director general to grant or refuse to grant a licence for which a person has applied. It also sets out the circumstances in which the director general must, or may, refuse to grant a licence. Division 3 applies to the role of the Commissioner of Police, which adds yet another dimension to this legislation. It defines the role of the Commissioner of Police in the whole process. It will enable the Commissioner of Police to inquire into, determine and report to the director general on whether an applicant for a licence is a fit and proper person to be granted a licence. Clause 20 ensures that there is no obligation upon the director general or the Commissioner of Police to give reasons for refusing to grant a licence.
The bill has that important dimension, which is underpinned by the very important role played by the Commissioner of Police in the whole process. Division 4 provides yet a further dimension to the bill. Clause 21 makes it a condition of an operator licence that the licensee permit the financial records of the body art tattooing business that is conducted at the licensed premises to be inspected by an authorised officer. A range of issues need to be checked before a licence is granted. Clause 22 of the bill makes it a condition of an operator licence that the licensee notify the director general of changes in particulars in connection with the licence. That is an important part of the bill, as is clause 24, which calls for licences to be displayed properly at licensed premises.
Division 5 provides for the suspension and cancellation of licences. Clause 25 enables the director general to suspend a licence if the director general is satisfied that there are grounds to cancel the licence. I note that the Acting-Speaker and member for Kiama has a particular interest in that clause. Clause 25 also provides that the director general must permit the licensee to show cause why the licence should not be cancelled when notifying the licensee of the suspension. While there are important regulatory provisions in the bill, the bill also provides for a review of licensing decisions. Clause 27 provides that the Administrative Decisions Tribunal may review a decision. A review process is locked into the bill, and that is an important point that should be highlighted.
Clause 28 deals with closure orders and will enable the Commissioner of Police to make interim closure orders in relation to specified premises. Clause 29 enables the Commissioner of Police to apply to the Local Court for a long-term closure order. If certain conditions are satisfied, the Local Court may make long-term closure orders. Clause 29 (1) (a) and (b) set out the circumstances in which long-term closure orders may be made. Clause 30 makes it an offence for a person, while a closure order is in force, to carry on a tattooing business, and provides for quite onerous penalties to be imposed for an offence. In addition, clause 31 provides other enforcement provisions that add yet another dimension to this legislation. It is worth highlighting some of those enforcement provisions.
Clause 31 enables a police officer to enter at any reasonable time any licensed premises, or any other premises that the police officer reasonably suspects are being used to perform body art tattooing procedures, for the purpose of carrying out general drug detection and general firearms and explosives detection. Clause 32 makes it an offence for a licensee, without reasonable excuse, not to produce his or her licence on demand by an authorised officer. The maximum penalty provided for that offence is $2,200. Clause 33 makes it an offence for a person, without reasonable excuse, to hinder or obstruct an authorised officer in the exercise of a function under the legislation, and provides for a penalty of $2,200 to be imposed. Clause 34 provides that proceedings for an offence against the legislation or the regulations may be dealt with summarily by the Local Court and the Supreme Court.
The maximum penalty that a Local Court will be permitted to impose for an offence under this provision will be 200 penalty units, which will amount to $22,000. Clause 35 enables an authorised officer to issue penalty notices for offences against the legislation or the regulations if those offences are prescribed as penalty notice offences by the regulations. It is worth pointing out that this legislation is quite encompassing and that it has many different facets that will make its implementation even more effective. It should also be noted that cosmetic or medical tattooing will not be captured by the new regulatory scheme. Businesses that provide only cosmetic and medical tattooing services will not be captured. This is important legislation. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr DAVID ELLIOTT
(Baulkham Hills) [8.15 p.m.]: It is with pleasure that I join in debate on the Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012. In doing so, I acknowledge that my electorate of Baulkham Hills, leafy and sleepy as it is, tragically has been the location of a number of outrageous attacks at a tattoo parlour that was unceremoniously shot at twice in the past two weeks. Outlaw motorcycle gangs have subjected New South Wales to a crime wave that simply will not be tolerated. With their callous disregard for law and order, these criminal organisations have been endangering communities right across this State. It is completely unacceptable that the innocent in our community are being exposed to unlawful violence on such a scale. It is upsetting that my electorate of Baulkham Hills has felt the brunt of these attacks, as I mentioned earlier. Over the past couple of months, the Baulkham Hills shopping centre has been the unfortunate scene of no less than two drive-by shootings.
The people of Baulkham Hills naturally are distressed about this dramatic escalation of violence. Through no fault of our own, we have become victims of a shady criminal turf battle. The Hills shire is famous for its family-friendly lifestyle and its leafy environment. We will not have a perfect community ruined by these criminal thugs. The people of Baulkham Hills, and indeed the people of New South Wales, have had enough. This bill is about purging the legitimate tattoo industry of its murky underbelly. The bill will create a new regulatory scheme for owners, operators and tattooists, the aim of which will be to reduce the involvement of organised criminals in the tattoo industry. Tattoo parlours are known to be heavily associated with organised crime, particularly outlaw motorcycle gangs. Such parlours are frequently the target of violence, as we experienced in Baulkham Hills in the past month.
It is often impossible for legitimate operators to avoid violent confrontations without the patronage of a criminal organisation. It should be heavily emphasised that the tattoo industry is a legitimate industry. It has a rightful place within our society and our economy. As a former officer in the Australian Army, I am very conscious of the cultural significance of tattoos in the military. However, this bill is essential because it has been introduced in the interests of both the public and the legitimate tattoo industry. It is essential that we remove the criminal elements that operate behind the façade of so many tattoo parlours in this State. Let there be no doubt that this is a tough bill that is designed to tackle a difficult problem. The decision to regulate the tattoo industry in this fashion has not been taken lightly. However, the Government recognises the need to clean up tattoo businesses so as to protect the public and legitimate operators.
Specifically, the bill will create a system of licensing that will be applied to both existing and new operators. All operators and tattooists will be required to pass a fit and proper person as well as a public interest test conducted by the Commissioner of Police. Controlled members of a declared criminal organisation will not be able to hold a licence. Naturally, there will be severe penalties for operating a parlour without a licence. Further, the Commissioner of Police will be able to close unlicensed parlours, and parlours where illegal activity is occurring for up to 72 hours. This closure can be extended by application to the Local Court. In the interests of natural justice and procedural fairness, the bill provides a right of appeal to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal regarding licence applications.
One of the anomalies of legislation to date is the fact that if a licensed premises serving alcohol has a violent incident on its doorstep the police can close it for 24 hours. But, as occurred in the incident in Baulkham Hills where there was a shooting on the doorstep of a tattoo parlour, the police are powerless to do anything. Therefore, the approach taken in this bill ensures a balance between allowing the tattoo parlour industry to operate, and the need to protect the public. This bill contains many necessary reforms that will be welcomed across the community, particularly the community of Baulkham Hills. With these reforms we can begin to put this sorry episode behind us. I congratulate the Minister on introducing the bill, and commend it to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr John Flowers and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gareth Ward):
Order! Government business having concluded, the House will now consider the matter of public importance.