Quit treating us like criminals: Tattooists angered by laws
GUILTY until proven innocent.
That's how tattoo artists across the Coast are feeling right now on the brink of a licensing crackdown.
Artists and parlour owners have accused the state of treating them like common criminals as the deadline for licensing required by the Tattoo Parlours Act 2013 draws near.
From July 1, it will be an offence to operate a tattoo parlour or carry out a body art tattooing procedure without a licence.
Tattooists say the laws are invasive and blanket the industry as a crime-filled one.
Successful applicants will be required to supply finger and palm prints to police.
The prints will be uploaded to the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is used by CrimTrac to conduct criminal history checks. Every fingerprint will be used for daily probity checks comparing unidentified prints from unsolved crime scenes.
Any prints obtained from an applicant who is granted a licence may be used by the Commissioner of Police for any purpose. However if a license is no longer current, expired or cancelled the prints attached to that license will be destroyed.
One tattoo artist who spoke to the daily has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. As a business owner she is now up for $1990 for a three-year licence.
She said this is the worst it has been in regards to legislation.
"It's not just the money, it's why am I being treated like this? Since when did we become criminals?" she said.
The business owner said the licences would do nothing to determine whether an artist was decent or aware of correct health procedures.
She felt a lot of tattooists would shut up shop in protest.
And it's not just parlour owners feeling the sting. Unpaid tattoo apprentices are also being hit hard with license fees.
One apprentice said she was up for a $350 fee.
While the money would be hard to find she said her biggest concern was the finger printing.
"They don't fingerprint builders or plumbers. I don't see why I should be treated like a common criminal."
Attorney-General and Justice Minister Jarrod Bleijie said criminal gangs had unfortunately infiltrated the tattoo industry and they had been using the businesses as fronts or vehicles for further criminal activity.
"They also don't tolerate competition with several tattoo shops being shot at, including some on the Sunshine Coast," Mr Bleijie said.
"The licensing regime is a win for the law-abiding, legitimate tattoo parlours.
"Their customers will know they are reputable businesses and they won't have to worry about being intimidated out of the industry by criminal gangs.
"The system is very similar to licensing regimes for other industries such as security and locksmiths."