Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Country Cabinet

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:20): My question is to the Attorney-General. Would the Attorney update the council on its engagement with the legal sector in the Upper Spencer Gulf during the recent country cabinet?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:20): I thank the honourable member for his question. As members are aware, the Malinauskas Labor government held our latest country cabinet to the Upper Spencer Gulf on 14 and 15 September. Country cabinet is a proud institution of Labor governments, ensuring ministers and departments get out and engage with the regions and provide opportunities for local communities to ask questions directly of government, being departmental or elected members.

Of course, as Attorney-General I was grateful to be able to spend time in the Upper Spencer Gulf and areas further north. In particular, I was grateful to members of the legal profession and to the honourable member himself, who joined and took time to attend a legal sector breakfast held at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens during that country cabinet visit. I am especially grateful to those who attended, given that the circuit court was sitting in Port Augusta that day and all the demands that can bring on the legal profession in a regional area.

The Hon. Justin Hanson and I were joined by lawyers from the Legal Services Commission, SAPOL and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, from organisations like Family Violence Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation, Victims SA, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and from firms such as WestSide Lawyers and Johnston Withers, amongst others.

I would like to particularly acknowledge Magistrate Rodney Oates for attending. It was certainly informative to speak with him, particularly for some of the younger legal practitioners in the room who are used to seeing magistrates in court settings rather than in social settings like a breakfast outside of the courtroom. His presence was greatly appreciated.

In addition to some good local scones, the breakfast was a great chance to catch up on issues affecting legal practitioners and their clients in the region. It also quickly became clear that many of the challenges were shared by the different organisations and practitioners in attendance, which made for a good opportunity to connect and share ideas.

Ahead of the country cabinet in Port Pirie and Port Augusta, I was also fortunate to visit Coober Pedy, where I had the opportunity to chat with representatives from the Working Women's Centre, the Legal Services Commission and the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement. The Working Women's Centre were on a visit promoting their workplace sexual harassment and discrimination program, which the government has been very pleased to provide funding to support, particularly targeting Aboriginal workers in remote and isolated areas.

At the same time, the Legal Services Commission was delivering the Your Story Disability Legal Support service and the Defence and Veterans Legal Service. Those two services support people sharing their experiences with the disability and veterans' suicide royal commissions, and I think it is crucial that people in very remote areas are supported as well as they can be, as people in metropolitan areas expect such services.

From the Upper Spencer Gulf all the way to north of Coober Pedy, it was a useful opportunity to connect with legal practitioners and services doing incredibly important work in regional South Australia. I thank everyone who shared their experiences and I thank the Hon. Justin Hanson for his involvement in a number of things that occurred in that country cabinet.