I’ve been waiting for an excuse to talk-up Eric Ripper for a while now, and today’s news that Labor will introduce legislation to implement the findings of the WA Coroner following the death of an Aboriginal man in a prison van in 2008 gives just such an opportunity.
If ever there was an example of the kind of decency that we have every right to expect and demand of our Parliamentary Labor Parties, State, Territory and Federal, it is this Private Members Bill. All members of the Labor caucus deserve to be praised for ensuring that a timely legislative response to the Coroner’s report has been brought before the Parliament.
It is undoubtedly true that, as the Leader of the WA Opposition said at the Labor State Conference, the failure to deal with the kinds of circumstances that led to this death stands out as one of Labor’s greatest shortcomings in the governments of 2001-2008. Mr Ripper has seized the opportunity, on behalf of all of us who supported those governments, to apologize.
More than that, the Labor Party has acted.
There is no doubt in my mind that Eric Ripper and his colleagues would feel a sense of responsibility about this issue, and genuinely wish to lead the charge in ensuring that these circumstances are never repeated. There’s no need to beat the State Government over the head too much about getting legislation in before they did – this is about us acting on our responsibility to protect the citizens of Western Australia.
This is the kind of issue that I know for a fact is close to Mr Ripper’s heart, and it is the kind of initiative that Western Australian Labor members can be proud of.
You little Ripper.