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Pages tagged "Attorney General and Democracy"

Industrial Manslaughter Bill passes the Upper House

14 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I want to use this opportunity to make a few general remarks about this bill because I have not yet spoken on industrial manslaughter during my time in this parliament. I regard and the Greens regard this as being a really good day for the people of South Australia because finally it appears that this reform, which is long overdue, will pass our state's upper house. It is a reflection, I think, of what this parliament does best—that is, listening to the concerns of the community, responding to their concerns and making laws that are going to change people's lives for the better and that are going to help people. That is fundamentally why we are all here in politics.

I reiterate the comments made by the Attorney-General; that is, good businesses, good employers, those who are doing the right thing by their workers, have absolutely nothing to fear from this reform. This is a positive step that is being taken for workers in our state. I acknowledge the long-term advocacy of the union movement and their passionate advocacy over many years. I know that the Greens have been proud to stand with them in this campaign over many years.

I pay tribute to the work of my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks for her leadership on this issue over the last 10 years or so. As noted by the Hon. Connie Bonaros, the Hon. Tammy Franks introduced private member's bills on this topic back in October 2010, in May 2015, on 1 May 2019, on 23 September 2020 and on 4 May 2022, so it has now been 13 years since the Hon. Tammy Franks first introduced a private member's bill to address this issue. Indeed, it was Tammy's bill in 2015 that led to an inquiry into the occupational safety rehabilitation and compensation scheme to allow cross-party development of a consensus position.

Might I say that this was a policy commitment that the Greens took to the last state election and that the Labor Party took to the last state election and, I understand, that the SA-Best political party also took to the last state election. There is clearly a mandate from the people of South Australia to see this change made. I understand that some members are seeking to mount the argument that there has not been enough consultation or there has not been enough of an opportunity to consider amendments and the like. I do not accept that. There has been considerable consultation about this reform. There has been a huge amount of public engagement on this issue.

So I do think it is a bit rich for the opposition to suggest, if they are going to, that we are not in a position to deal with this today. This was the party that waved through draconian anti-protest laws with the blink of an eye. In this case, there has been a huge amount of public engagement on this issue over years and years, and it is clear that the people of South Australia want this done. I hope the parliament is going to do that today, and that will be a really good thing for the people of our state.

Question: Children in Detention

30 August 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:10): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General on the topic of young offenders.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, the Attorney-General tabled the Young Offenders Regulations 2023. Under section 9 of these regulations, a young offender who is detained within 40 kilometres of Adelaide's General Post Office:

…may be detained in a police prison or approved police station, watch-house or lock-up in accordance with those sections.

That applies for as long as it is reasonably practicable.

In a 2022 report on South Australia's progress on recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the commissioner for young people noted on page 15 that children were arrested and detained in SA police cells or watch houses at least 2,030 times between 2020 and 2021. Of these separate admissions, 43 per cent of these young people were First Nations young people.

My question to the Attorney-General is: why does the government think it is appropriate to detain children as young as 10 in police stations, watch houses or lock-ups for indefinite periods? When will the government move to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:12): I thank the honourable member for his question and his passionate advocacy in the area of raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in particular. As I have outlined in this place and in public before, we are undertaking work to look at what it would look like if we did raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility. It is not a policy we have committed to, but there is certainly a large body of work that we are undertaking in South Australia, as there is being undertaken nationally by all states. The national process commenced under the former government, who committed to looking at what it might look like and the evidence for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

Some of the areas that continue to be looked at in South Australia are areas that you might expect; that is, if you raise the age from 10 to 12, as I think the NT and the ACT have done, and I think Victoria made a recent announcement about raising the age, and I think Tasmania have made an announcement about raising the minimum age of detention, which is not the minimum age of criminal responsibility, but in some areas it has a similar effect in terms of children who are actually detained in custody facilities. One of the main areas is: what comes instead of the criminal justice system—those other sorts of interventions, be they therapeutic interventions, family supports or other interventions?

I have to say, I have been surprised at just the complexities and the amount of work that has gone into this already. There is another matter that touches on what the honourable member raised, in addition to what the other interventions are in a young person's life that might even be more successful in making the community safer by having a lower chance of reoffending. But then, what are the immediate powers of, particularly, police officers in terms of being able to intervene immediately?

There are very successful processes in place in terms of family conferencing that the police use. The immediate police powers to intervene in situations, particularly dangerous situations, is another element of the work that's ongoing. The honourable member raises one of them, and that is detention in police cells, and it is acknowledged that that is often a suboptimal experience for children, but that is certainly part of the work that we are undertaking as we look at this issue holistically.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:14): Supplementary: when will the parliament receive an update on that work that is being undertaken and, in particular, does that work involve consideration of the report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:15): I thank the honourable member for his question. As much as I would love to give the honourable member a date, that it will happen on this day of this month, I don't have a date. It is important work that we want to do thoroughly. From the outset, the overriding factor about these changes is what makes the community safer. We are looking internationally, too, at what the results have been in terms of the reduction in reoffending and the effects on community safety. We will do the work as thoroughly as possible, and I know the honourable member will look forward to any announcement we have in this area.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:15): Supplementary: again, has that work been informed by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child report?

The PRESIDENT: I am not sure that that report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child—I didn't hear that in the original answer. However, Attorney, if you would like to answer the question you can, otherwise we will move on.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:16): I am most helpful and I am happy to do so, sir. As I said, certainly the work has looked at international experiences and looked at a whole range of different jurisdictions that have moved this way, and are looking at it as well.

Police Drug Diversion Initiative

3 May 2023


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (3 May 2023).

1. How many people have been diverted from the criminal justice system under the Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI) in the last reporting year?

2. How many people were diverted from the criminal justice system under the PDDI in each of the past five years?

3. How many people were not diverted from the criminal justice system under the PDDI in the last reporting year?

4. Over the last reporting year, what controlled substances were people found with categorised by people diverted from the criminal system and people not diverted from the criminal system?

5. How many people diverted from the criminal justice system ended up proceeding to trial?

6. Have there been any policy changes in the last five years that have resulted in a change to the diversion rate?

7. Will the government commit to publicly releasing the above information on a regular basis?


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I have been advised:

1. In 2021-22, the South Australia Police recorded 1,837 drug diversions. This information is derived from SAPOL Annual Report data published on Data.SA. The number of people diverted is unknown, although one person is limited to two diversions in a four-year period.

2. There were 21,600 diversions in the past five financial years. The number of people diverted is unknown.

3. This is unknown as there are set requirements for a drug diversion to take place (including the limit of two diversions in a four-year period), this is therefore not possible to quantify.

The Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services has advised:

4. The controlled substances found on people who were diverted to the Police Drug Diversion Initiative were Alprazolam, Amphetamines, Buprenorphine, Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Heroin, Ketamine, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), MDMA (including ecstasy), Methamphetamine, Oxycodone, Psilocybin (magic mushroom), 1,4 butane diol, and Phenethylamines n.e.c.

5. SAPOL holdings do not record specifics regarding noncompliance returns to the prosecutorial process. However, SAPOL advises it would be rare to have a matter returned for prosecution through noncompliance.

6. The Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI) originally commenced in September 2001. The PDDI aligns with the nationally agreed approach to illicit drug use in Australia involving an early intervention process for drug users to help reduce the prevalence and harms associated with drug use. The main aims of the PDDI are to provide people with early incentives to address their drug use, increase education, assessment and treatment opportunities and to reduce the number of people appearing before the courts for simple possession offences.

The Statutes Amendment (Drug Offences) Bill 2018 amended section 34 of the Controlled Substances Act 1984 resulting with the effect that from 1 April 2019 the number of occasions people could access the PDDI is limited to no more than two simple possession offences in the preceding four years.

7. Statistics on the number of drug diversions in a given year are available in SAPOL's annual report.

Local Government (Rateable Land) Amendment Bill

28 June 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The bill that I am introducing today aims to address one of the issues that has been faced in the City of Adelaide over a number of years; that is, the way in which rate exemptions are applied. I should note that I am a City of Adelaide resident, so I have an interest in what occurs in the City of Adelaide, but this issue is much broader than simply the City of Adelaide. The principle extends to other council jurisdictions and is of interest to all South Australians who are facing an increase in their council rates at this time.

Our skyline has witnessed significant transformations in recent years. Buildings such as the Festival Tower now loom over our Riverbank Precinct. While these buildings have been erected on Parklands, they are not contributing their fair share to the people of Adelaide.

This bill would empower the Adelaide City Council to levy rates on the area where the Hajek Plaza used to be and where the Walker Corporation's Festival Tower is now under construction. Rate income is valuable to contribute to the upkeep and development of our city, and organisations such as corporations and casinos should not be exempt.

Rates are the lifeblood of local government, enabling the provision of essential services, maintaining infrastructure and enhancing the quality of life for residents and businesses. While ratepayers across the state are seeing their rates rise due to the current economic crisis and high CPI, it is only fair that large corporations pay their fair share. Why is one of Australia's richest people, a multibillionaire, being given a rate exemption?

In 2020, The Advertiser reported on the Walker Corporation's rate status in an article titled 'Walker Corp building on Festival Plaza could become test case on council rate exemptions'. At that time the article claimed that the Walker Corporation being exempt from rates was costing the City of Adelaide $150,000 in lost revenue each year. Given the increases in rates since that time, there is the potential for that revenue to be much higher.

At that time, The Advertiser also reported that SkyCity Adelaide was not paying any rates. However, we have been advised that that situation has been remedied, and I understand that SkyCity is now paying rates to the City of Adelaide as the land title has been transferred. However, how was it that we had a casino being built on Crown land that was not paying any rates? How did that occur? This private member's bill will close that loophole, make it very clear that casinos should not be granted any rate exemption, and make it very clear that the Walker Corporation will not be granted any rate exemption.

It is really important that we establish this principle, particularly if we are going to see a second tower blighting our city landscape, as I understand is under contemplation by the Malinauskas government. I must say what an outrageous deal this is that the Walker Corporation has been granted over our public space. A bucketload of taxpayer money is being poured into that project, if media reports are to be believed—a huge amount of taxpayer money being spent on that Festival Plaza.

You have a private corporation seizing our public land, which could have been returned to Parklands and, to add insult to injury, they are not even paying rates. What an amazing deal for the Walker Corporation; what a dud deal for the people of South Australia. It is outrageous and, quite frankly, I find it disgusting that the Labor and Liberal parties could allow such an appalling exploitation of the people of South Australia and our public land to occur. It is a disgrace, an absolute disgrace and this bill seeks to remedy that.

It is worth noting, too, that the City of Adelaide does forfeit a significant amount of rates through exemptions. A workshop was conducted back in November 2021 by the City of Adelaide, which was reported in The Advertiser. Whilst I was on the city council at that time, I was not present at that workshop—I was away—but I have read the papers of the workshop. They are publicly available and available to members of this place on the City of Adelaide website.

That report notes that 27.4 per cent of rates income is forfeited through exemptions and rebates. The report claims that the impact of this is disproportionately allocated across the community. Well, 22.7 per cent of rates income is forfeited through exemptions in Adelaide. It should be noted this is very high when compared with the City of Melbourne, which only forfeits 12.2 per cent of their rates through exemptions, and again that is according to that report.

The report goes on to include a map, which highlights areas where rate exemptions apply. I would encourage members of this place to have a look at that. While some of those areas where rates are not applied are council-owned buildings or recreational reserves, there are some that are businesses operating for private profit, like the Walker Corporation and, as I understand, previously the Casino.

By holding profit-making corporations accountable through rates we can ensure that our community resources are equitably distributed, fostering a sustainable environment for all residents and businesses to thrive. The community requires shared responsibility, not a system where big business does not have to contribute to the running of the city or the maintenance of our public realm. An interesting debate has been occurring at the moment around the state of our public streets and, in particular, around the state of North Terrace. Why should not one of Australia's richest people have to contribute to maintenance of the public realm? Why should the Walker Corporation be given a free pass? This bill is closing off that loophole, and with that I conclude my remarks.

Question: Gas Conference & Anti-Protest Laws

15 June 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:55): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General on the topic of consultation.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: On 16 May, The Guardian Australia reported that the Minister for Energy and Mining told the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference: 'The South Australian government is at your disposal, we are here to help and we are here to offer you a pathway to the future.' During that week, protesters gathered at that conference to oppose the use of fossil fuels and their impact on climate change. On Thursday 18 May, the Premier, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas MP, announced on talkback radio that he would be legislating to impose new penalties on protesters who obstruct the public space. The bill was passed in both places with limited public consultation and scrutiny.

My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: did the Attorney-General receive any representations from the Minister for Energy and Mining on behalf of Santos or any organisation involved in the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference regarding potential amendments to the Summary Offences Act, and what does the government have in mind when it talks about 'offering to help' the gas industry?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:56): In relation to representations to me from the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis, the member for West Torrens in another place, no, I had no representations made by him from any of the classes of people referred to by the honourable member. I was not there when the comment was made, but I am sure the honourable member could take it up with the minister to whom he attributes the comment.

Children in the Justice System

3 May 2023

No. 271 

In reply to the The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (3 May 2023).

1. How many children between the ages of 10-14 have been detained in the justice system in the last 12 months?

2. Of those children, how many are between the ages of 10-12?

3. What is the government doing to progress the Optional Protocol to the (United Nations) Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) which prevents the torture, illegal treatment, and deprivation of human rights for detained people?

4. How much funding is being provided by the South Australian government to implement OPCAT?

5. Is the government providing extra financial and human resources to the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People to provide oversight for children and young people to the international standard required by OPCAT?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER
(Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector):
I have been advised:

1. Between 10 May 2022 and 9 May 2023, a total of 41 children aged from 10 years to 13 years and 11 months were admitted to Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.

Cumulatively, these children spent a total of 275 nights in custody along with two children who were admitted to Kurlana Tapa but did not remain overnight.

2. Between 10 May 2022 and 9 May 2023, eight children aged from 10 years to 11 years and 11 months were admitted to Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre. These children spent a cumulative 13 nights in custody over the past year.

Table 1—Admission of children aged 10 to 13 years to Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre between 10 May 2022 and 9 May 2023

Child age on admission Number of children Custody nights Number of admissions
10 2 0 2
11 6 13 7
12 10 41 19
13 27 221 92
Total 41 275 120

Please note the sum of the 'number of children' column is 45 but the total number of individual children comes to 41. This is because four children had subsequent admissions after their birthdays.

3. As I have indicated previously in this place, South Australia, like other jurisdictions, stands prepared to implement OPCAT when the commonwealth government provides proper and ongoing funding to do so. The South Australian government continues to work closely with the commonwealth government to progress the implementation of OPCAT and issues concerning funding. OPCAT remains a priority item on the Standing Council of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting agenda for 2023. At the 28 April 2023 SCAG meeting, all participants affirmed their commitment to continue to work together towards full implementation of OPCAT obligations. I welcome this commitment from the commonwealth government and look forward to continuing to progress efforts to support the full implementation of OPCAT.

4. The South Australian government's position is that funding to implement OPCAT is a matter for the commonwealth government. The South Australian government continues to work closely with the commonwealth government to resolve issues relating to funding for the National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) to ensure that they are able to effectively carry out their functions and powers under OPCAT.

5. The Training Centre Visitor (currently Ms Shona Reid who also holds the office of Guardian for Children and Young People) was nominated in January 2022 by the former government to be the NPM for training centres when OPCAT is implemented. The implementation of OPCAT, including the passage of legislation needed to confer NPM functions on the Training Centre Visitor, remains subject to resolution of issues related to federal funding.

Access to Legal Services

3 May 2023

No 270

In reply to the The Hon. R.A. Simms MLC (3 May 2023).

1. What is the government doing to support people living with disability when navigating the legal system?

2. Will the government implement the recommendation from the South Australian Law Reform Institute's report titled 'Providing a Voice to the Vulnerable: A Study of Communication Assistance in South Australia' that called on the government to provide a publicly funded service to be available to people with complex communication needs when interacting with the justice system?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector):

I have been advised:

1. My department provides National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020-25 (NLAP) funding to the Legal Services Commission of South Australia, the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and community legal centres for the provision of legal assistance services to key cohorts identified as national priority client groups under the NLAP, which includes people with a disability or mental illness.

Specifically, the department provides (non-exhaustive):

NLAP funding to Uniting Communities Law Centre to deliver the Welfare Rights Service, which provides legal advice and representation to clients with social security matters, including those in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This includes matters relating to the disability support pension.

State funding to LSC to deliver the Disability Information and Legal Assistance (DILA) unit. The DILA unit provides specialist information and legal advice for South Australians with disability, including those with cognitive or mental impairment, their carers and advocates.

In addition to the services funded by the department, Uniting Communities receives state funding from the Department of Human Services to deliver the Disability Advocacy Service. The Disability Advocacy Service provides education and assistance to people trying to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) system or who are seeking reviews of their NDIS plans. The service also assists with appeals lodged in the AAT regarding a NDIS decision, or in the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal regarding a guardianship order.

Further, there are several initiatives in place to support people with disability and complex communication needs to navigate and engage with the justice system. They include (non-exhaustive):

Vulnerable witness provisions are available to specified people, including people with a mental disability, to help make the experience of giving evidence in court less stressful. This could include giving evidence from a separate room (including via closed-circuit TV—CCTV), having a court support volunteer present or having a canine court companion to accompany the witness while giving evidence.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions' Witness Assistance Officers and Victim Support Services' volunteer Court Companions are available to provide trauma-informed support for victims who may need assistance to participate in the prosecution process, including those with a disability. This may also involve assisting victims to understand information about legal rights and processes and providing practical support so that they can participate in the criminal justice system to the best of their ability and can access appropriate community-based support services.

Canine Court Companions are also available to reduce the stress and anxiety of vulnerable victims and prosecution witnesses. Court Companions is a joint initiative between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Guide Dogs SA/NT.

2. Ensuring that people with complex communication needs can access the justice system is of the utmost importance to the government and is an ongoing consideration.

The communication partner service is currently provided by qualified communication specialists whereby a person with complex communication needs is entitled to receive communication assistance for support with speech, language and communication needs to facilitate communication with the justice system, including police, criminal defence lawyers, courts or prosecution services.

The government will continue to monitor the impact of the available range of communication assistance strategies to ensure they are operating as effectively as possible.

Matter of Interest: Concerns Regarding Media Reporting

14 June 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:45): I rise to express my dismay at the Adelaide Advertiser's report in Saturday's paper, 'Cash, sex and frock'n'roll', where a church leader was outed, to use The Advertiser's language, living a double life meeting gay men on the sex app Grindr. The article goes on to claim that the priest was 'active on the homosexual meeting site Grindr, providing graphic depictions of sexual encounters and desires with men and sending pornographic photos to potential dates'. The Advertiser also revealed that it had 'obtained surveillance video taken by a private investigator from a public street, which appears to show multiple males visiting his home at night, corresponding with chats on his Grindr account that invited them'.

The article contains a series of screenshots of private messages the priest had sent on Grindr, including one featuring his photo. In recent days, I have been contacted by many members of the LGBTI community, gay men in particular, who have been dismayed and quite frankly disgusted at the way in which this man has been named and shamed. I share their dismay. I was stunned to see this story in Saturday's paper.

Meeting people via dating apps is not a crime, nor should it be considered shameful. Why is Grindr described by The Advertiser as a 'gay sex app' or a 'homosexual meeting site'? Would the same emotive language have been used if the man involved was chatting to prospective dates on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Facebook or Instagram? The use of the term 'frock' in this context is also one to contemplate. Surely we have moved past the point in our state where gay men, or men who have sex with men, are outed and humiliated in this way.

Stories that outed gay men were commonplace in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in UK tabloid papers. Politicians and celebrities were all considered fair game. This reporting during the height of the AIDS crisis fuelled homophobia. While some may argue that this man's role in a church means that his personal life is inconsistent with his public life, surely in a civilised society we have moved beyond outing community leaders.

There are many people who work in public-facing roles who do not wish to have their sexuality known for a range of reasons. This is particularly true of those who work in religious organisations. Coming out is still a very difficult thing for many people, and those of us in the LGBTI community go on our own personal journeys with this. LGBTIQ+ Health Australia reports that one in 10 calls made to the QLife hotline are about coming out. Outing someone and exposing their intimate communications has the potential to cause serious psychological harm.

There are laws in place to prevent the sharing of revenge porn, that is, the sharing of images to third parties. Perhaps it is time to review the law to ensure that intimate messages are also protected to prevent public humiliation. There is the potential here for individuals to suffer serious reputational damage should their private, intimate communications find their way into the public realm.

I am deeply concerned that the salacious language used and the prominence given to this issue in our paper reinforces perceptions about gay sexuality, that is that it is shameful, immoral and sleazy. Sadly, these sorts of narratives can lead people to conceal their sexuality and push people further into the closet. There is nothing shameful about being gay. There is nothing shameful about being on dating apps or meeting people via these sites. Indeed, in 2017, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 39 per cent of heterosexual couples met their partners online, and an ABC study has shown that a third of those who met their partners during the year 2020 did so in the online environment.

The Advertiser has played an important role in pushing gay law reform in our state. It gave significant prominence to the murder of Dr Duncan more than 50 years ago, and it has regularly reported on issues of importance to the LGBTI community, exposing hate crimes and highlighting issues relevant to gay law reform. I do hope that The Advertiser considers the potential implications of Saturday's story and that we do not see this replicated again in our state's local newspaper.

Question: Protection of Private Communication

13 June 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:50): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General on the topic of protection of private communications.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: On Saturday, the Adelaide Advertiser published an article on its front page under the heading, 'Cash, sex and frock'n'roll', where it revealed that a church leader had been—and I quote directly from the article—'living a double life, meeting men on gay sex app Grindr'. The article features screenshots of private messages sent by the app between the man and other men.

My question to the Attorney-General is: can the Attorney-General advise what protections exist for South Australians communicating on dating apps and social media apps, and are there any laws in place that prohibit the sharing of private messages and photos to third parties?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:51): I thank the honourable member for his questions; they are good questions. I will take on notice to bring back a more complete and fuller answer but telecommunications, or communications by electronic methods, are, I am pretty sure, the sole province of the commonwealth in terms of regulation. That will be part of the answer I will have to take on notice.

In terms of dating apps, I think my colleague in the other place the member for Reynell, Minister Katrine Hillyard, has attended at least one national forum on some of the difficulties with online dating apps and how issues surrounding them work. Again, I am happy to take on notice to bring back a fuller answer. Under South Australian law and offences created under the Summary Offences Act in terms of sharing invasive images, I don't think that extends to messages that might be covered by commonwealth telecommunications, but I am happy to have a look at that and take it on notice.

I have been to forums with my own teenage children, run by Sonya Ryan and others, and it does highlight the dangers faced with modern methods of communication. Once someone communicates on these sorts of apps, whether they are dating apps or apps generally, one tends to lose control of where they end up. Modern technology has made our life very easy in many ways, but it has created certain difficulties that people may not think about at the time.

It is a good question. I am aware of some of the areas, but I will take it on notice to bring back a fuller answer for the honourable member.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:53): Supplementary: noting the minister's response, is the government considering further reform in this area?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:53): I thank the honourable member. There is work being done at a national level on privacy more generally, and I know the honourable member's colleague has talked about that, particularly in terms of facial recognition. We will continue to be a part of that federal work in terms of privacy generally.


Question: Charter of Human Rights

30 May 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:50): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General on the topic of a human rights charter.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS:
On International Human Rights Day last year, over 150 organisations and individuals signed a statement calling for a parliamentary inquiry into a human rights act in South Australia. The call was led by the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS), the Rights Resource Network of South Australia and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. The signatories stated that, and I quote from their document: We want to help build a society based on a culture of respect for human rights across government, parliament, the courts and our communities.

Those 150 signatories called for a framework to protect human rights that requires the South Australian government to consider everyone's basic rights when it designs new laws, regulations or policies. On 17 May 2023, following the protest actions of Extinction Rebellion, the police commissioner, Grant Stevens, told FIVEaa that, and I quote: We can't just, as much as we might like to, cut the ropes and let them drop.

Just a few days later, on 21 May, opposition leader David Speirs stated in a media conference, and I quote from his remarks to the ABC: If you…march down King William Street in a planned protest supported by the police…I think we're doing pretty good. There are some countries where your head would be cut off for doing that sort of protest.

My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: is the Attorney-General concerned by these comments? In particular, does he share the opposition leader's belief that being able to walk down the street without being beheaded is a sign of 'doing pretty good'? Does the Attorney-General think it is acceptable for the Commissioner of Police to refer to cutting the rope on protesters, and would the Attorney-General support a charter of human rights to ensure that the basic human rights of all South Australians are protected?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:52): I thank the honourable member for his questions. In relation to the first two questions and comments that others have made, I will leave that for them to talk about the comments they have made and why they have made them. In relation to the third question, in relation to a human rights charter, it certainly is something that has been raised, and a number of the groups mentioned by the honourable member have made representations to the government about this and a whole range of other matters—particularly recently—not just from our just over 12 months in government but our time in opposition.

Protecting human rights is an important thing that governments should be concerned about. We have, since 1975, federal racial discrimination laws. We have an Equal Opportunities Act that applies in South Australia. In relation to legislation for human rights, we are open to receiving representations, but we don't have a policy to advance legislation on that matter at this time.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:53): Supplementary: does the Attorney-General not want to use this opportunity to disavow the comments of the Leader of the Opposition?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:53): I think the Leader of the Opposition is big enough to defend any comments he makes himself. I might say that it is not language I would choose to use.