Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 14, 2022



The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD (14:56): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking questions of the Attorney-General regarding vandalism of MPs' offices and other public property.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD: On Thursday 19 May this year, the offices of five federal members of parliament were vandalised by the activist group Extinction Rebellion in an apparent effort to make a political statement, although that statement was lost on me, sir. This of course is not the first time that vandalism targeting MPs has been attributed to this group, with Extinction Rebellion protesters taking aim at Parliament House in Canberra, the Prime Minister's home and a senator's office in Adelaide last year.

I am aware that the penalties received by four of the five perpetrators of the vandalism of the Parliament of Australia and other sites, other public property, were fines in the order of $20 each. One protester, who received two $20 fines for his personal involvement in the crimes, stated—and I quote directly—'With two $20 fines, the magistrate sent me a clear message: keep going.' My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. What actions are the state government taking to prevent similar acts of vandalism from occurring in the future to public property?

2. Has the Attorney-General reviewed the existing legislation to ensure adequate penalties are in place in South Australia to deter the vandalism that is encouraged and perpetrated by activist groups?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:57): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is an important one. The protection of public institutions and things like MPs' offices are important. I'm not sure if he is suggesting it, but one thing I wouldn't favour is differential penalties depending on the offender. If it's a suggestion that an offender, because they are a part of a group, should necessarily attract a differing penalty, that's something I don't think we would apply elsewhere and wouldn't look at here.

In terms of criminal damage and interference with property, there are fines that are attracted. I am not aware of any of the incidents that were mentioned. I think the honourable member said five maybe federal electorate offices in Adelaide had some level of vandalism. My expectation would be they would be properly investigated and, if the evidence showed that there was a reasonable prospect of conviction based on the evidence, a prosecution, if that was determined by the DPP, would occur.