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Equal Opportunity Commissioner's Independent Review

16 November 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The Greens are also supportive of this report and the recommendations. In particular, I want to put on record our support for the code of conduct that has been proposed. I recognise, as the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition have done, that this has come out of a multiparty committee process, but it should be noted that it was not a committee that involved active participation from the Greens.

It has always been our view that when you are developing a code of conduct it is important to include penalties to ensure that we have something in place that has real teeth, that the community can have faith in, that members of this place can have faith in, and that the staff who work in this building can have faith in.

With all due respect to the Hon. Mr Lucas, I am not sure that this Liberal government has the best track record when it comes to enforcing the behaviour of their members of parliament. This is the party that said, 'Let's not progress any investigation into the alleged conduct of Sam Duluk, let's just let that slide.'

The PRESIDENT: The member should be referred to by his seat, the member for Waite.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I apologise, the member the Waite. 'Let's just let that slide and let's instead exhibit such a failure of leadership that it's over to the member for Waite to announce that he is going to run as an Independent,' because nobody in the Liberal Party hierarchy had the courage to move to disendorse him. So I am not sure that the argument, 'Well, the political parties will take care of their business and the government will discipline people who do the wrong thing,' really carries much weight.

I also refer to the conduct of the former SA minister, Stephan Knoll, who was found to have engaged in misconduct over his interactions with the cemeteries board by the Ombudsman. I am not sure what action has been taken by the government in relation to that behaviour. It is important that there are some clear consequences that flow if people do the wrong thing. That is the case in any other workplace in the state of South Australia and that is what the community expects of this workplace.

In terms of the amendment, I will talk to that later when I have the opportunity to do so, but in general terms what it does is imposes or provides the opportunity for the parliament to impose fines, compel a member to apologise or suspend a member from the service of this council. Members may well ask—and the honourable Treasurer has made this point—how long would the suspension last, what is the fine, and so on? These are matters that are dealt with in the Victorian model from which this language has been drawn, and were this to be implemented we could certainly finesse some of those issues through further changes to the standing orders.

It is not the desire of the Greens to hold up this process in any way. We are absolutely supportive of a code of conduct. It has taken a very long time for us to get here and with that in mind we do think it is appropriate that we ensure that any code of conduct we put in place has real teeth and ensures that there are real consequences that flow to those few bad apples who do the wrong thing.