Pages tagged "Health and Wellbeing"
Tobacco Product Prohibitions Amendment Bill
30 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise today to speak very briefly in support of the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products (Tobacco Product Prohibitions) Amendment Bill 2022. This bill, introduced by the Hon. Connie Bonaros, is a simple one. It increases the penalties for people who illegally import or pack tobacco in South Australia. These increased penalties are in close alignment with other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales and Victoria.
As with other drug reform, the Greens regard this as a health issue and believe that we should be guided by a harm minimisation approach. According to the Cancer Council, tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of cancer and the single greatest cause of preventable death. In Australia, smoking is estimated to kill almost 20,500 people per year. Dr Caroline Miller, from SAHMRI, in relation to plain packaging of cigarettes has stated: 'Implementing strong tobacco control policy measures like this ultimately makes profound differences for public health and our health system.'
I understand, in a separate bill, we will be considering the nature of packaging in more detail, but the fundamental principle here is the same: the regulation of the tobacco industry will give us beneficial health outcomes. The Hon. Connie Bonaros has brought to our attention the practice of illegally importing and packing tobacco products and described for us in detail how this system works. Illicit tobacco products are unregulated and, as such, we have no understanding of whether or not they are safe for sale within our country or whether or not they meet Australian standards. We do not know how much extra harm they cause beyond the harm that is already caused by tobacco products.
The intended outcome of this bill, and the increased penalties, is to deter people from illegally selling illicit cigarettes, and the Greens certainly support that objective. We hope that this is what will happen in practice, and that a reduction in illegal tobacco products will result in less harm for South Australians.
We will need to wait and see whether these increased penalties have the desired effect in terms of reducing the illegal packaging and import of cigarettes and tobacco products. I hope that, should this bill become law, the government will closely monitor its effectiveness. It may be some time before we have appropriate evidence to show us if these increased penalties have worked, and I look forward to looking at the outcomes.
As I indicated from the outset, the Greens are supportive of the honourable member's bill. I put on the public record our appreciation to the Hon. Connie Bonaros for putting this on the agenda of the parliament.
Question: Pill Testing in South Australia
29 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Health, on the topic of pill testing.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I recently visited Australia's first fixed-site pill testing service, which is based in the ACT, known as the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service. The program was a six-month trial, initiated by the ACT government, to address harm reduction associated with drug use. The service analysed the contents of drugs to help service users understand unknown and potentially dangerous substances. Drug checking facilities have been used internationally since the 1990s and are available in 20 countries within Europe, the Americas and New Zealand.
In the six-month trial that began on 21 July and ceased on 20 October, CanTEST tested 232 samples and staff provided 294 alcohol and other drug interventions. After receiving their results, 43 samples were voluntarily discarded by service users. The trial also uncovered new drugs that were previously unknown. The South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services (SANDAS) has stated that pill testing and drug testing reduces harm by reducing immediate risk of contaminants, expanding opportunities for education and providing an early warning system for new dangers associated with drug use.
Pill testing has been supported by organisations such as the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Society of South Australia and the Royal Australian College of Physicians. My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: does the government agree that pill testing is an effective harm minimisation measure and, in the lead-up to the festival season, will the government follow the lead of the ACT and investigate pill testing here in South Australia?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question and will pass on those questions to my colleague in another place and bring back a reply.
Reply received 7 February 2023:
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has advised:
Our government released and is now implementing a comprehensive policy regarding illicit drugs that involves more rehabilitation beds and more support to families of drug users.
Our government has been consistent before the election in not supporting pill testing as part of our policy.
Speaking on Healthcare (Acquisition of Property) Amendment Bill
29 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak on behalf of the Greens on the Health Care (Acquisition of Property) Amendment Bill. Under current legislation the government can acquire land for public hospitals, but this bill expands the potential for those acquisition powers to extend to health services in general, especially for new ambulance services.
In the last few years, South Australia has been dealing with a ramping crisis, one that was created by both of the two major parties. We have continually heard stories of people waiting too long for ambulances. We have also heard of people being too scared to call an ambulance for fear of how long it will take. This is simply not good enough in a state like South Australia that has the resources that we have.
We do welcome the government's commitment to build new ambulance stations and so we are supportive of the general principle of this bill. We understand that there is a need to co-locate health services to make it easier for people to access multiple services. We also understand that ambulance services have very specific needs and that these need to be taken into account when selecting new locations.
Minister Picton, I understand, has advised the other place that the SA Ambulance Service needs to be located close to main roadways so as to avoid bottlenecks and to ensure best possible response times. For these reasons, we can see situations where compulsory acquisitions may be required. We have been advised that the usual planning and heritage processes will continue to apply to any properties already compulsorily acquired under this provision. Given the recent example of the use of Parklands for health services, assurances that heritage and planning laws will still apply are very important.
I am aware of the amendments that the opposition has filed. We will certainly consider the debate during the committee stage of the bill, but I flag that the Greens are disinclined to support those simply on the basis that this may narrow the field. We are concerned that this may prevent the potential for acquisitions for mental health services, and we recognise that that is an important issue that requires attention from government. We will certainly engage in the committee stage of the bill and I will be asking some questions of the government in that regard.
Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill
16 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak briefly in favour of the Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill on behalf of the Greens. In so doing, I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Hon. Frank Pangallo in this regard. I recognise that the honourable member first introduced this bill into this place back in 2020, before my time in the parliament. The Greens were supportive of the bill at that time and we are again supportive of the legislation. I certainly recognise the leadership of the honourable member in keeping this issue on the agenda. It is certainly one that will save lives.
In Australia, approximately 30,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of hospital, with only 9 per cent of those surviving. Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, and it is one of the biggest killers of Australians under the age of 50.
According to the Heart Foundation, without chest compressions and the use of a defibrillator, a person in cardiac risk will not survive. Cardiac arrest can take less than 10 minutes to cause death; sometimes an ambulance can take longer than that to arrive. We know that that is the case here in our state, as we continue to deal with the ramping crisis that both major political parties have overseen due to their failure to invest in our health sector.
Access to defibrillators can be the difference between life and death. They are simple to use, do not give a shock unless required, and provide guidance to the user through vocal prompts. They are safe, they are straightforward. Why should we not ensure that they are available for use in the community?
I will say, the Hon. Frank Pangallo did bring into Parliament House recently some of these mobile devices and showed these to me. I was really impressed with the technology and I can see that really has the potential to be used in lots of different settings and also potentially reduces the cost for entities that are going to be required to install these.
The bill will ensure that public buildings are fitted with an automated external defibrillator and I am sure that will result in saving more lives. My office has heard anecdotally of batteries of automated external defibrillators being stolen and I understand that they can have significant resale value. Regular replacement due to theft could be a burden for community-owned organisations if they are required to have a functioning defibrillator available under the legislation.
We do hope that the government will support community-owned buildings, such as local sporting groups, in managing this cost. This is a matter that the Hon. Justin Hanson raised on behalf of the Labor Party in the last parliament and it is an important point and one that I hope Labor will take up now that they are in government.
We note that the Hon. Frank Pangallo has amendments to this bill to remove the South Australia Police from requiring automatic external defibrillators and I understand that this is due to the financial implications of including SAPOL in the legislation. We support the amendments that set the commencement date to 2025 for public buildings and 2026 for private buildings. This allows time for organisations to forecast the expense in budgets and to prepare for the change in legislation. This is a significant change and so the amendment being advanced by the honourable member makes sense.
The bill has been widely supported by organisations, including the Heart Foundation and the Ambulance Employees Association. The Greens are also supportive of having automatic external defibrillators accessible in public spaces. If these devices are readily available in the situation of cardiac arrest, then they will save lives.
I will take this opportunity to just briefly indicate the Greens will not be supporting the amendments foreshadowed by the opposition. The suggestion that there be a very low penalty applied we do not believe would ensure compliance with this new regime. It is important that the penalty provides an adequate disincentive and ensures that there is appropriate compliance. We are concerned that the amendments from the opposition undermine that objective. With that, I conclude my remarks.
Reportable deaths under the voluntary assisted dying Bill
15 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to indicate the Greens' support for the Statutes Amendment (Attorney-General's Portfolio) (No. 3) Bill. The Greens have been very supportive of voluntary assisted dying laws across the country for over a decade, with the Greens campaigning strongly in every jurisdiction for this reform. In South Australia, my predecessor, the then Hon. Mark Parnell, twice moved for voluntary euthanasia bills—
An honourable member interjecting:
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I apologise; I understand he is still honourable. I would like to acknowledge both the Hon. Mark Parnell and my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks for their work on this important reform over many years in this parliament. Indeed, there is strong support across our movement within the Greens in terms of euthanasia reform.
The bill before us today ensures that deaths that occur under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act do not require an investigation by the South Australian Coroner. The Attorney-General indicated a concern about the current situation where the Coroner is required to provide findings in these types of deaths, leading to delays in finalising the affairs of deceased persons. The Greens share this concern. We believe we should minimise the risk of increased trauma for families in what is, of course, a very difficult situation for them.
However, there is provision to ensure that the Coroner can still investigate deaths that do not occur in accordance with the voluntary assisted dying scheme to ensure that legislative processes are enacted correctly. We consider this to be an important safeguard within the scheme. Furthermore, this bill ensures that deaths under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act are reported in the Coroner's annual report. The Greens believe that reporting these figures is an important transparency measure.
The Greens support the measures outlined in the bill and are pleased that the government has indicated an intention to bring the voluntary assisted dying scheme into operation as soon as possible. I put on the record our belief that that cannot happen soon enough for families and those who are terminally ill and are waiting to access the scheme. With that, I conclude my remarks.
Paid Parking Bill Speech
3 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak today on behalf of the Greens in support of the Private Parking Areas (Shopping Centre Parking Areas) Amendment Bill. I do want to start my remarks by reflecting on my own journey in terms of my working life and the importance of this bill. I actually got my first-ever job when I was 17, having finished year 12, and it was working in the retail sector. Indeed, I was working for Big W at Westfield in Marion.
I remember—working night shift packing boxes and packing shelves—how difficult it was for me to get home at the end of my shift. That was over 20 years ago now, and in fact there was such an absence of transport that my dad used to come to pick me up late at night to make sure I could get back to the southern suburbs because you could not get a ride home.
It is pretty disappointing that decades on so many of our state's retail workers find themselves in the position where they are often trapped, finding it difficult to get home from work, and then being slugged increasing car parking fees. It is particularly disappointing when one considers what our retail workers have been through over the last three years of this pandemic because we know that their work really is essential.
These are the people who have been at the frontline ensuring that our society could function during the pandemic. These are the people offering critical goods and services to our community, and they were often people copping abuse, copping unfair treatment, and what they have also been copping of late is an increase in their car parking fees, and that is outrageous.
For us in the Greens, we have always recognised the need for these crucial workers to be given free car parking, and that is one of the reasons why we are supportive of this bill. We of course recognise that we should always prioritise alternative forms of transport where possible, but we do acknowledge that travelling by car is necessary for some people, and that is particularly the case for retail workers. As I mentioned, there is often insufficient public transport available for these workers, and I hope that the government will take action to address that over this term of parliament.
The Greens believe that all workers should have safe ways to get to and from work. My office has received over 530 emails in support of free car parking for retail workers at shopping centres, but we have also had a large volume of correspondence from retail groups also calling on better ways to manage car parking.
One of the issues that we have been alive to in the Greens when the government first put this bill forward was the need to find a resolution for hospital workers. Whilst we were supportive of free parking being made available to retail workers in these key shopping centres, for the reasons that I have outlined, we also felt that it was important that that principle should apply to our hospital workers—people who have also been at the frontline of this pandemic and in particular during this really tough flu season—so we have been advocating for the government over some time to deliver a better deal for those workers.
I must say, what the government have come back with is a really excellent solution. What the government are delivering is car parking for just $2.50 for hospital workers, just $2.50. That is cheaper than a cup of coffee—that is $12.50 a week—that is cheaper than a sandwich. This is going to be cheap car parking made available to these workers in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. As a result, car parking for hospital workers will be at the lowest level it has been at for more than 10 years. That is a really good outcome for these critical workers. The other thing that the government have put on the table is they are going to provide free public transport on an ongoing level to workers who do not have access to a car parking permit. That is another terrific win.
It was the Greens who first filed amendments to provide free public transport and free car parking to these critical workers. The Greens came out very strongly on this issue months ago, and we of course welcome the Liberal Party joining the call, and we have now achieved that outcome because the government have delivered this heavily discounted car parking and free public transport, and there is therefore not a need to pursue our amendments. So, I indicate that we will not be supporting the amendments from the opposition in that regard either. The other issue—
The Hon. S.G. Wade interjecting:
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I hear the Hon. Stephen Wade is interjecting, screaming out 'backroom deal'. I do not make any apology for working to get good outcomes for all workers, particularly those in our hospital sector and those in our retail sector. That is why the Greens are here. The same could not be said of the Liberal Party that, as we know, served the interests of big corporations like Westfield—
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: But the other—
The Hon. S.G. Wade interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: Order, the Hon. Mr Wade!
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr President.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Simms, continue.
The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: Order, the Hon. Ms Franks! The Hon. Mr Simms, continue.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Sorry, Mr President, I heard the Hon. Michelle Lensink interjecting with 'small family business'. She obviously has a very different definition of small family business. I would not describe Westfield as being one of the small family businesses.
Just to go on to some of the other issues in this bill, one of the other issues that we were concerned about was the fact that the bill was going to give local councils a role to play enforcing these car parking provisions. We heard from the local government sector that they did not actually want to be placed in that position and, indeed, many would have a conflict of interest because they manage car parking. That was an issue that we raised with the government, and I understand the government has taken that issue up and will be moving amendments to address that.
Given that all of those concerns have been addressed, we are delighted to be supporting the bill today. I think this is a breakthrough that will be welcomed by not only our retail workers but also our hospital workers as it brings to a close what has been a bit of a saga. It means that heading into the Christmas period those workers will have more money in their pockets, and that is going to be really critical as they continue to deal—as all South Australians do—with this ongoing cost of living crisis. I am proud of the role that the Greens have played to bring these issues to a head.
Question: Health Care in Regional SA
2 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional health.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In March 2020, the then Marshall Liberal government temporarily closed several rural accident and emergency departments due to COVID-19. Now, 2½ years later, the emergency departments at the following locations are still closed: Gumeracha, Strathalbyn, Mount Pleasant and Eudunda. Some of the hospitals have claimed they are not able to attract medical staff to regional hospitals. The Gumeracha medical centre has called it a 'crisis in our medical workforce'.
My question to the minister therefore is: what is the government doing to ensure that the health needs of regional communities are being met, and is the Minister for Regional Development developing strategies for attracting medical practitioners to the regions, so that these emergency departments can reopen?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, regional health is an issue that comes up very frequently when I am out on one of my various and numerous regional trips, and certainly it is something that I have raised a number of times internally. In terms of the specifics about strategies being developed, I will refer that to my colleague in the other place, the Minister for Health, and bring an answer back to the honourable member and the chamber.
Reply received on 21 February 2023:
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has been advised:
A working group was established to consider the emergency services options for this community.
The working group recommended an after-hours nurse-led clinic based at Gumeracha District Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, with virtual support from a medical practitioner. Under the proposal, the after-hours clinic would operate Monday to Friday 4pm to 8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 4pm. A community forum was held on 12 January 2023 to inform the broader community on the details of the proposed model, which was supported. The community now have the opportunity to provide feedback until 27 January 2023, and staff consultation has commenced.
A similar process is now underway for Strathalbyn with a working group having met twice before Christmas to consider options.
Extensive work is underway to ensure we are attracting medical practitioners to all regional and rural areas of South Australia, recognising their importance to the health and the fabric of rural communities. South Australia's Rural Medical Workforce Plan 2019-24 lays out these strategies, the most critical of which has been the successful introduction of South Australia's Rural Generalist training program. The SA Rural Generalist Program is increasing the number of doctors who specifically train in rural medicine in a regional and rural community, based on evidence that the longer doctors spend training in a rural area, the more likely they are to practise long-term in that community. The Rural Generalist Program SA has overseen a significant expansion in rural medical training, with 2023 projected to see further increases. For example, rural intern positions have more than tripled to 18 in 2022 and intern rotations from metropolitan to rural areas increased from 20 in 2019 to 47 in 2022.
The South Australian government also supports the recruitment and retention of rural doctors by funding the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency to undertake targeted recruitment campaigns and to provide supports including upskilling, spouse and childcare supports and business supports to attract rural doctors to South Australia.
In addition, the government has committed to a staged rollout of 10 specialist doctors in regional South Australia, establishing more local medical services for local communities.
New Women's and Children's Hospital Bill Speech
1 November 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The Greens welcomed the announcement of a new Women's and Children's Hospital last month. Indeed, the need for a replacement for the tired Women's and Children's Hospital has been apparent for many years and, in 2021, we saw the Marshall Liberal government announce plans for a new hospital next to the Royal Adelaide.
I do not want to engage in a debate about which proposal is better or which side of politics got it right and the differences between the Liberal and Labor proposals, but we do believe that a new hospital is desperately needed for South Australian women and children. However, it is important to note that the bill we have before us today is not about whether or not we have a hospital. Instead, it is about the location of that hospital and, in particular, the implications of that for heritage and our Parklands.
This bill vests specific power in the hands of the minister. It removes the state heritage protection value of the old police barracks, and it is our responsibility as legislators to consider the implications of this. South Australians should not have to choose between a new hospital or our iconic Parklands and heritage buildings.
On 27 September this year, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas, the Premier, was quoted in InDaily as saying, 'This is going to be a binary choice'—a choice between heritage on the one hand and health on the other. Well, we in the Greens reject that argument. It is not a binary choice. We can have both; it just takes imagination from government. The people of Adelaide and the people of our state do not have to choose between heritage and hospitals or parklands and hospitals; indeed, there are many cities around the world that preserve their heritage buildings and preserve their green space and still have world-class hospital facilities.
The problem here is that successive governments, both Labor and Liberal, have viewed the Parklands as free land. They view the Parklands as a land bank, and there are any number of meritorious proposals that could be advanced by governments of the day with respect to our public green space: hospitals, schools, universities and housing.
As the world's first public planned park, the Adelaide Parklands are an integral part of the design of the City of Adelaide. They are unique and they are enjoyed by all South Australians, but over time we have seen their inherent value being degraded—again, by both sides of politics. I am not simply criticising the Labor government here; I note, of course, that the Marshall Liberal government, despite promises made, had an abysmal record in that regard.
In the initial statements made about the hospital, Minister Picton has made it clear that there will be a net loss of Parklands. At least, that is the undertaking that the government has given, but the numbers do not appear to add up. In a statement released by Minister Picton on 19 October, he states that 30,000 square metres of inaccessible Parklands will be restored, yet meanwhile the hospital site and the blueprint that has been tabled demonstrate that there will be a footprint of 40,000 square metres. The car park would add another 13,000 square metres of loss. To make up that shortfall, we would need to see a commitment of another 23,000 square metres of Parklands to achieve the government's goal of a net zero loss of Parklands.
Labor's refusal to add the Adelaide Parklands to the state heritage register just two weeks ago is proof that they are wavering in their commitment, at best. Their statements around the future expansion of the hospital are further proof of this weak support for our public green space. Again, the Premier was quoted as saying at the time, 'By choosing to build on the barracks site, we leave room for future RAH expansion and we leave room for future Women's and Children's expansion.'
I note that the former Labor minister and Lord Mayoral candidate Jane Lomax-Smith has referred repeatedly to bracket creep; that is, governments taking over a portion of Parklands and then expanding their reach over time. I agree with the former Labor minister in that regard: it is concerning when we see governments expand their reach into our public green space. We do not want to set a precedent here that our Parklands can be swallowed up and seized every time there is a project of public merit—and there are lots of important projects that are worthy of support.
We also need to consider the implications of this bill for our heritage and the value of heritage listings. The whole purpose of heritage protection is that it is not meant to be held hostage by the government of the day. I have heard the Premier make comments in the media, where he has said, 'Oh, well, the old police barracks aren't exactly attractive. No-one goes there. It's not like it's a building on North Terrace.' That is beside the point.
It is not for members of parliament to make their assessments on what constitutes heritage values. We have an independent, peer-reviewed process. The power to do that is vested in the hands of the Heritage Council, and they are the body that should make those decisions, not the Premier, not individual members of parliament. The Department for Environment's own website describes a heritage place as follows:
A heritage place can be inspiring and intriguing and discovering the history of a place, especially if you're connected to it, will enrich your life. It's not just 'old' buildings that are heritage-listed, a place may be of value for reasons of history, social and cultural importance, design merit or rarity…it actually has to be a place that we want to keep because it tells our story and displays our uniqueness.
The criteria there is not, 'Oh, well, this is aesthetically pleasing,' or, 'The Premier thinks that this particular building is attractive.' That is not part of the criteria that the Heritage Council takes into consideration. Heritage protection provides benefits to our community. It tells our stories. It improves our tourism, and it gives our places meaning. Heritage is not about protecting pretty places. Heritage is about our history. The Thebarton Police Barracks are part of our history, and they have stood there for over 100 years.
I highlight for your benefit, Mr President, that Labor made commitments prior to the recent state election to add further protections to heritage laws through extensive public consultation. In their policy document announced during the election, they stated that a Malinauskas Labor will legislate to require proposed demolition of state heritage sites are subject to full public consultation and a public report from the SA Heritage Council. This is not the standard that they have applied to this bill. This is a case of Labor doing one thing before the election and now doing something very different when they find themselves on the government benches. Where is the public consultation?
The policy goes on to condemn the previous Liberal government for its actions on the Parklands, saying that the Marshall Liberal government showed its disrespect for Adelaide's heritage when it decided to rezone large parts of the Parklands. I agree with that, of course. But as I have said previously in this place, talk is cheap. It is easy to be critical of what the government is doing, but it is another thing entirely to actually put your money where your mouth is when you are in a position to make change. It is disappointing that the Labor Party have chosen not to take Parklands protection seriously now that they are in government.
The government is setting up a false choice here between heritage and a hospital. I want to make it very clear and to restate comments I have made previously that the Greens are not opposed to a new hospital, but we do have some concerns with elements of this bill. That is why we believe that the parliament should be given an opportunity to fully consider the implications of this bill through a parliamentary committee. I gave notice earlier of my intention to move for us to do that, to ensure that there is a select committee that could inquire into the implications of this bill for heritage protection and for our Parklands.
I also want to put on the public record correspondence from the Lord Mayor, Sandy Verschoor, that I received today. In the correspondence from the Lord Mayor, which was sent on behalf of the City of Adelaide, of which members will be aware I used to be a member, it stated that 'we respectfully request that final consideration of the Bill be delayed until such time as the impacts of the legislation are fully considered, tested and understood'.
Full consideration, I submit to you, Mr President, is vital if we are to ensure that we are not eroding heritage and our Parklands without considering the implications. To that end, I was concerned to note in the letter from the Lord Mayor that the advice of the Adelaide Park Lands Authority has not been sought in relation to this proposal.
It is very concerning that the authority has not been asked to have its say on the implications of this proposal. That is very concerning. I am also concerned about the speed with which this legislation is being advanced. I am concerned that it was only introduced into this place two weeks ago, or not even, and we now find ourselves in a position where significant reform with implications for heritage and Parklands is going to be advanced.
We will be moving a series of amendments at the committee stage to address some of the concerns that I have raised. Fundamental to the amendments that we are moving is a belief that we do not have to choose between heritage and a hospital, that we can do both. Indeed, the Greens amendments would allow us to do both. Some of our amendments relate to removing the sections of the bill that give the government the power to move police horses to other parts of the Parklands where they see fit, including their stables and infrastructure. We want to remove that part from the bill.
We want to maintain the heritage listing of the buildings that are implicated, which would ensure that the government would need to follow the standard heritage process. We are also wanting to ensure that there are no permanent fencings or barriers being built to close off the public green space, and we are also moving to ensure that the Parklands are not further impacted or, rather, we do not see the loss of the olive grove by having the car park being contained within the build of the hospital.
We believe that these are very sensible amendments. They would allow us to progress with building a hospital while also being sensitive to our Parklands and our heritage. With that, I conclude my second reading remarks, but I will obviously have more to say in the additional stages of the bill.
Amendments to the Mental Health Act
18 October 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak on the Statutes Amendment (Attorney-General's Portfolio and Other Justice Measures) Bill, which amends 14 acts within the Attorney-General's portfolio and two acts that are justice-related. As the honourable member has observed, this is a matter that we dealt with almost 12 months ago to the day; I had the opportunity to look at Hansard this morning. A number of the amendments are of a technical nature, as stated in the Attorney-General's second reading speech, but some of them do have broader implications. In particular, I want to highlight some of those that have significant effects.
The amendments to the Children and Young People (Safety) Act provide an important measure in protecting young people. In cases where a young person is involved in communication with a person subject to a direction, this amendment ensures the child is protected from committing an offence. As many in this chamber will be aware, I am committed to ensuring that children are not caught up in the criminal justice system, and this amendment certainly prevents that in some cases.
Part 13 of the bill removes automatic entitlement to legal representation under initial reviews provided for in the Mental Health Act 2009. The Greens have some concerns with this clause, however, as we believe in the fundamental principles of the right to a fair hearing and we believe that this must be upheld. That includes the right to competent representation through our legal processes.
In the Attorney-General's second reading contribution, he referred to initial reviews being undertaken on the basis of written reports and treatment plans and stated that this means legal representation is not necessary for initial reviews. In a submission to the then Attorney-General, the Hon. Vickie Chapman, the Law Society stated its opposition to the proposal to exempt section 79 reviews because:
…the orders which are reviewable under this section involve orders in respect of the detention of children, the extension of inpatient treatment orders and detention of a person who has been detained following the expiry or revocation of a previous inpatient detention order.
We do not agree that legal representation should be denied in these circumstances and we will be moving an amendment at the committee stage to remove this section. Members may recall (any of those who are listening) that around this time last year, I moved an amendment to the bill to do just that—well, I was going to move an amendment; we did not progress with it on advice that was received from the government. My office has since engaged with the Law Society. Again, it is still their view that they have some concerns around this section and it is on that basis that I will be proceeding with the amendment.
Controlled Substances Pure Amounts Amendment Bill
27 September 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise in support of the Controlled Substances (Pure Amounts) Amendment Bill on behalf of the Greens. As both the Attorney-General and the Hon. Michelle Lensink have stated, as a result of the recent Court of Appeal decision in the case Kingston v The Queen, it has been revealed that there is a loophole where pure forms of drugs are not set out in the regulations.
We believe that the bill the government has introduced today remedies this, plugs that gap in the legislation and ensures that the legislation better reflects the will of the community. I think it is fair to say that there was considerable shock in the community in response to that verdict and considerable concern about what that might mean, and so we welcome the government's decision to bring this legislation forward.
I will put on the record that, whilst the Greens support penalties for trafficking and the distribution of large quantities of some drugs and support closing this loophole, we do also believe that it is important when dealing with drugs that we have a discussion around harm minimisation and around reducing the stigma often associated with those who take illegal substances.
The war on drugs does not work. We have seen around the world governments moving towards legalising and regulating some drugs, such as cannabis, and we should be looking at drugtaking from a health perspective, not a law and order perspective. My colleague, the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC, has introduced a bill to legalise cannabis, and I do hope that this parliament considers it as a step forward in terms of dealing with drugs from a harm minimisation perspective rather than a criminal law response.
There are a number of strategies that we can take to implement a health-based approach to drugs. Recently, I called on the Malinauskas government to make pill testing available in our state. In July, the ACT government opened the nation's first fixed-site pill and drug testing clinic, and next month I will be travelling to the ACT to have a look at that site.
This kind of testing facility is greatly needed here in South Australia. Pill testing services exist in 20 countries across Europe, the Americas and New Zealand. Pill testing is a harm reduction strategy that not only makes drugs safer but also provides transparency around what is in the market, an important measure to improve user knowledge and education, and one that discourages people from using potentially harmful substances. In 2019, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that 57 per cent of Australians supported pill testing, with only 27 per cent being directly opposed.
We should be looking to early intervention measures to ensure drug takers are informed and make safe decisions. The South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services in their 2022 position paper on drug law reform states that seeking to address related harms through the criminalisation of people who use drugs is neither effective nor humane. SANDAS takes the position that there should be a strong criminal justice response to the manufacturing, supplying and trafficking of drugs outside of a regulated supply system, but that personal use should not be stigmatised or criminalised.
SANDAS has a number of recommendations for legislative reform that I encourage members of this place, in particular the government, to consider as we move forward in addressing drugs as a health issue. That said, we recognise, of course, that this bill is dealing with trafficking and selling of drugs, and in the Greens we do draw that distinction between the users of the end product and those who are seeking to traffic and sell drugs. On this basis, we are supportive of the bill.