Consorting laws exist in every Australian State as well as the Northern Territory. The former Tasmanian consorting laws had not significantly changed since 1935 and stated that a person must not habitually consort with reputed thieves.
These laws have been updated in the other jurisdictions to focus on dealing with organised crime, instead of vagrants and petty thieves.
In 2018, the Tasmanian Government introduced legislation into Parliament to replace the offence of consorting contained at section 6(1) of the Police Offences Act 1935 (the Act), with a more contemporary offence that provides Tasmania Police with powers to combat serious and organised crime.
The objective of the new consorting offence is to prevent serious criminal activity by deterring convicted offenders from establishing, maintaining and expanding criminal networks. The new law clarifies and modernises the offence of consorting by including a number of legislated definitions, a preliminary warning system, and a judicial review mechanism. The new offence prohibits a convicted offender from habitually consorting with another convicted offender, within five years of having been given an official warning about consorting with the other convicted offender.
The amendments at section 20F of the Act clarified and modernised the offence of consorting by including a number of legislated definitions, a preliminary warning system, aligning with legislation in other jurisdictions and a judicial review mechanism.