Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 19, 2022


Parliamentary Committees

Legislative Review Committee: Inquiry into Local Government Land By-laws, Public Conveniences

The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (15:57): At the request of the Hon. Connie Bonaros, I seek leave to move Notice of Motion: Private Business, No.1, standing in her name.

Leave granted.

The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: I move:

That the report of the committee on its Inquiry into Local Government Land By-laws—Public Conveniences, be noted.

The City of Tea Tree Gully Local Government Land By-law 2021, No. 3, was published in the Government Gazette on 7 October 2021 and tabled in both houses of parliament on 12 October 2021. The by-law was referred to the committee under section 12B of the Parliamentary Committees Act 1991. Clause 5.6.5 of the by-law prohibits a person from entering any public convenience set aside for use by the opposite sex. The clause provides exceptions, including for a child under the age of five years who is accompanied by an adult person of that other sex.

The committee identified two concerns with clause 5.6.5 of the by-law. First, setting an age limit for a child who may enter toilets set aside for the opposite sex does not account for variations in maturity and needs of children. Secondly, use of the language 'the opposite sex' and 'that other sex' may be discriminatory to a person who does not identify as either male or female. The majority of councils in South Australia have local government land by-laws with a similar clause regulating who may enter a public convenience.

The by-laws vary across councils as to the age of the child permitted to enter a public convenience with an adult of the opposite sex. Given that the issues raised were not unique to the Tea Tree Gully by-law, the committee recognised that these concerns would need to be addressed more broadly and, as a result, determined to undertake an inquiry.

As part of its inquiry, the committee received evidence from Ms Fiona Ward, Deputy Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection; Ms Helen Connolly, Commissioner for Children and Young People; Ms Jodeen Carney, Commissioner for Equal Opportunity; and representatives from the public protection branch of South Australia Police.

The evidence received supported the committee's concerns. Given that the concerns raised in the evidence applied to the majority of local government land by-laws in South Australia, the committee engaged with the Local Government Association and the Office of Local Government. Those agencies, in consultation with the committee, developed alternative wording for a model clause to regulate entry into public conveniences that would address the concerns raised. The recommended model clause is set out in the committee's report.

The committee wishes to emphasise that it is for councils to determine their by-laws. A council may choose to adopt the recommended model clause or adopt another provision that addresses the concerns that are raised in this report, or not include a provision regulating entry into public conveniences. The committee acknowledges the utility of this process for addressing concerns that may arise in relation to by-laws that are in place across multiple council areas. The report will alert all councils to the issues identified in the evidence before the committee.

The committee would like to express its appreciation for those organisations that provided evidence to the committee on this matter. In addition, the committee is grateful for the work of the Office of Local Government and the Local Government Association in developing the model clause.

I would like to thank the other members of the Legislative Review Committee for their work on this matter: in the House of Assembly, currently, Mr John Fulbrook MP, member for Playford; Mr Sam Telfer MP, member for Flinders; and the Hon. Tony Piccolo MP, member for Light; and in this place, the Hon. Connie Bonaros MLC and the Hon. Laura Curran MLC. In addition, I would like to thank the committee secretary, Mr Matt Balfour, and the committee's research officer, Ms Maureen Affleck, for their assistance with the inquiry and the report.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. S.G. Wade.