Legislative Council: Thursday, December 01, 2022


Adjournment Debate


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (17:04): I move:

That the council at its rising adjourn until Tuesday 7 February 2023.

I would like to speak to the motion, as is the customary way to do these sorts of things. I would like to place on the record my thanks to everyone who makes this chamber work. I would note that this year the Legislative Council has sat for three more days than the House of Assembly during the calendar year. If I can channel one of my predecessors who stood here: 'Lazy, lazy, lazy House of Assembly'.

We have conducted a significant amount of business in this parliamentary sitting year, which has been shortened because of the election. There have been 31 government bills that have passed all stages of the council, and there have been a number of private members' bills that have passed, for example, the BYO containers bill of the Hon. Robert Simms, the jumps racing bill of the Hon. Tammy Franks, the defibrillators bill that passed this week of the Hon. Frank Pangallo, and the stealthing and consent laws put up by the Hon. Connie Bonaros that passed this week.

It has been a busy year in terms of what our primary function is, that is, debating and passing laws of this state. I think a quarter of the bills have had amendments put to them that have been passed, so it is a demonstration of the proper function of this place, doing its job in scrutinising legislation.

There have been some significant achievements during the year. We have seen tougher penalties for child sex offenders. The strengthening of Carly's Law passed this chamber, as did legislation to enshrine the Nunga Court into legislation and the reform of shop trading hours, the biggest reforms that have happened in a long time—but I shall not dwell on those; we have talked about them enough over the last couple of months.

Occasionally, we have had legislation that has come in that I want to thank members for their forbearance in passing quickly when necessary. We had changes to the Controlled Substances Act that needed to come in very quickly to react to a decision of a court that may have seen, if we had not acted very quickly, people who ought to be getting tougher sentences get off very lightly. As people would expect, when there have been issues that have needed to be dealt with quickly, as we did during COVID, we have as a chamber dealt with them quickly.

I would like to thank you, sir, as our ever-patient President. I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, and the whips, who we all know are the ones who do the most work in this place: the Hon. Laura Curran and, of course, the Hon. Ian Hunter. Members of the crossbench keep us all very honest and shake their heads disapprovingly when we yell at each other across the chamber during question time.

I thank the staff of the council: Chris, Guy, Leslie, Emma, Anthony, Kate, Super Mario, Todd, Karen and Charles. Catering keep us all fed. I would like to thank all the catering staff, even Karen and Nicky, who so frequently look disapprovingly at my fondness for sausage rolls. I will continue to eat them. I thank Hansard, PNSG, building services staff and cleaning staff. I personally want to thank staff from the Attorney-General's Department, particularly legislative services, who do so much work behind the scenes on the legislation that comes before this place, and my own staff: Kim, Roland, Angas, Charlie, Patrick, Elliette, Victoria and Craigie.

I also want to acknowledge the significant contributions of some of the new members of the chamber this year—the Hon. Sarah Game, the Hon. Laura Curran and the Hon. Reggie Martin—who have made their presence felt in different ways in this chamber. There are a couple of reflections I want to make on the year that we have just encountered. It was probably about this time last year that we had a heartfelt farewell speech from the Hon. Russell Wortley. It is terrific to see that the reports of his political death had been exaggerated and he is with us still in this chamber. We look forward to many more farewell speeches from the Hon. Russell Wortley in the future.

I want to acknowledge the many, many contributions of the Hon. Frank Pangallo, who has from his contributions in this chamber taken us on a tour of the globe, regularly speaking about things in the United States, Vietnam, Ukraine, Spain, France, Malaysia, Germany, South Africa, Afghanistan and the UK.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Wait for it. Just yesterday, we visited Madrid, Doha, Greece and Qatar in contributions from the Hon. Frank Pangallo. We all know that when the Hon. Frank Pangallo stands up and says, 'I have a brief contribution to make,' it is regularly nothing of the sort. If you add up the total time the Hon. Frank Pangallo has spoken for, it has been a combined total of 42 days, which is actually six more days than we have sat in this chamber, which is a remarkable feat.

We also have still with us the lingering ghost of the Hon. Rob Lucas in this chamber, as we have mentioned Single Touch Payroll and reflected on other contributions of someone who had been in this chamber and had such an influence for so long, but thankfully I cannot remember a single reference to roast chickens at Woolies this year, since the absence of the Hon. Rob Lucas.

In summing-up, I think the camaraderie displayed in this chamber is mostly what the public expects of their members. It is a small chamber and by necessity we generally get along. We have our differences in here, but in my experience they are left at the doors of this chamber and we work together in our different ways and as we see fit for the betterment of South Australia and its people.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (17:11): As Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, it is my great honour and privilege to address the chamber and deliver on behalf of my colleagues a Christmas message. I would like to start by saying that 2022 has been an extraordinary year. I feel as though the older I get, the quicker the years pass. As my children feverishly count down the sleeps until Christmas, I am reminded of the year that has passed and all the incredible people I have met, the stories I have heard, the places I have seen and the things we have achieved in this place.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to cause challenges and disruptions, particularly earlier in the year. I think it is a great testament to all South Australians just how resilient and community-minded we are. I know I speak for my colleagues when I say I would not want to live anywhere else in the world.

I think it is important to reflect on and acknowledge the enormous efforts of our dedicated and hardworking team in Parliament House. After any election there is a huge volume of work to be done. There are the sheer logistics involved in physically relocating members, inducting and familiarising new members, getting IT set up, resources allocated and deployed—the list of tasks goes on and on.

I would like to sincerely thank the entire staff who work tirelessly to support the members in Parliament House. Their job is not an easy one, and I would particularly like to note the professionalism and courteous nature with which they discharge their roles. It is an incredible role they play. I am sure you would agree, Mr President, that our parliament could not operate without their tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts.

We are often in the limelight, and I think on this occasion we should all reflect on and acknowledge the parliamentary staff in this place who allow us to discharge our functions as legislators. On behalf of the opposition, I would like to sincerely thank everyone who devotes their time, expertise and service in this place. We are all facilitating something bigger than ourselves, and I want you to know that we are grateful and appreciative of your support.

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of my colleagues on all sides of the chamber. We have a job that is like no other. I think I can speak for all of us in this chamber when I say it is an honour and a privilege to serve the people of South Australia. I think it is rare to love what you do, and my team and I get up every single day energised and excited to serve.

I would also like to acknowledge you, Mr President, for presiding over this chamber in the excellent way that you do. I, too, acknowledge new members of the chamber—the Hon. Sarah Game, the Hon. Reggie Martin and the Hon. Laura Curran—and congratulate them again on their election.

I turn my mind now to the fact that many South Australians do it tough over Christmas; that this time for joy and celebration for many is not the case for all. There are families and individuals all over our state who are experiencing homelessness or hardship, and I want to highlight the incredible work that organisations like Foodbank, the Smith Family, Salvation Army, Anglicare, Catherine House, the Hutt Street Centre and so many other incredible organisations do to support some of our most vulnerable, not only during the Christmas period but all year round.

This year in particular, my thoughts are with my community in the Riverland, many of whom will experience a difficult lead-up to Christmas as the water levels of the Murray River rise. Many members in my community will be forced out of their homes, and businesses and livelihoods will be significantly impacted. As a community, I know we are strong and resilient. We will come together and we will support one another, because that is what we do best.

At a time when many families sit in their homes and share a meal together on Christmas Day, I think of the families in my community who may not have the Christmas they were planning. I wish them the grace and the strength to handle the challenges they will face, and remind them that they are not alone and that support is available.

Christmas for me is about long summer days, sprinklers on the lawn, kids at the beach or in the pool, barbecues and, where I live, mosquitoes that are bigger than most blowflies at the moment. It is about family and friends, kindness, generosity—a time to reflect and to be grateful. As our parliamentary sitting year draws to a close, on behalf of the Liberal team I would like to wish everyone here in the chamber, and indeed the community of South Australia, a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (17:16): I rise on behalf of the Greens to wish all members here a safe and happy Christmas. Might I begin by reflecting on personally how much I have enjoyed the collegial culture in this chamber. I have had the opportunity to serve, albeit for very brief periods, in the federal parliament and also in local government. I think one of the things that really sets this chamber, and indeed this parliament, apart from others is the collegial culture that we have—the good humour and the strong personal relationships that are built across party lines.

I do sincerely want to thank all members of parliament. In particular, might I say that I was absent from the chamber last year when we had these reflections, but I want to thank everybody for welcoming me into the chamber last year and say what a great privilege it has been to work with you all over the last 18 months.

On behalf of the Greens, I want to thank all of the staff, not only those in this chamber but across the building, for the terrific work they do to ensure that we can all do our jobs effectively. As has been observed, it would be impossible for us to function without the terrific work that they do, so I really want to thank them. I want to thank you, Mr President, for your leadership of this chamber and to congratulate you on your elevation to the chair this year. It is great to have you there.

I also want to thank my own team: Lisa, Melanie, Sean, Zoe (who worked in my office for a time) and, more recently, Rylie. I would also like to thank Malwina, who has recently departed for Tammy Franks' office, who has been a long-term staffer for Tammy and a vital part of the Greens team. Of course, I want to thank my colleague Tammy for all of her support and friendship this year, in the parliament and outside.

Finally, I will make a brief statement around what Christmas represents for me. It is always a time for thanksgiving, for reflection and celebrating the good things of life: friends and family. It is also an important time to remember those who are less fortunate. As observed by the Leader of the Opposition, I know that there will be many who are struggling during this Christmas period—many who struggle with loneliness, many who will struggle to meet the cost of living. I know that our thoughts are with them all during this Christmas period.

It is our sincere hope, from the Greens' perspective, that the New Year brings happier times for all South Australians and, indeed, relief to many across the world who are struggling with significant challenges such as war, famine and growing inequality.

The Hon. C. BONAROS (17:19): I was just going to thank Nicky and Karen and sit down, but I know that that would get me into some trouble, so I will also—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. C. BONAROS: Just them. They are the only people who count.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. C. BONAROS: No, they really are. I will take this opportunity to echo the sentiments of other members and genuinely thank all the remarkable people who work in this building and who, as other members have said, make our jobs possible and make being in here slightly better—a lot better, in many instances. They really do go above and beyond, and it is not always just work, it is the friendly chats in the hallways and the friendships you form along the way.

I am extremely grateful to all the chamber staff, to the external staff who work outside of here, to the building staff, to parliamentary counsel and everybody who makes our work in here run as smoothly as it does.

I would also like to welcome the newcomers to this place. It can be a steep learning curve but one that I think is well worth it and one that I would like to think leaves our community better off. We have seen that you are all in your element in terms of doing the work you do, and I certainly hope you have settled in well and are enjoying your roles.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank our team—Frank's team and my team—who provide all the support they do. Speaking for the crossbench generally, we might be small in numbers but I think we all punch well above our weight, and that is all possible because of the dedicated, very tired and very frustrated staff we ask so much of in many instances and who probably got a lot more than they ever bargained for—certainly in working for me.

Frank—what can I say? I love him, and I know you all love him. I quite enjoy his speeches and I quite enjoy sitting here and travelling the world with him. I cannot get on a plane and go to those places, so I like it when Frank takes us on those trips. I am very thankful to Frank for all the support he has given me over this year and previous years, and to all our team. To all of them I just want to say: thank you for everything, and bless you.

In closing, I just want to wish everyone here a well-earned break, a very happy and safe Christmas and festive season, and a happy New Year.

The Hon. S.L. GAME (17:22): I rise to add my remarks to the other nice sentiments members have expressed as we approach the end of 2022. I will start at the top of the pecking order and thank you, first and foremost, Mr President, for the sage advice you have provided to me on parliamentary processes and for keeping this house in order. Thank you also to the table staff, who so ably assist you.

Thank you to our parliamentary officers, the Clerk, Chris Schwartz, and Usher of the Black Rod, Guy Dickson. I have always found Chris and Guy to be extremely helpful when I have reached out to them, and they have been particularly useful as I navigate the process of chairing a select committee for the first time.

I do not want to forget anyone's name, but thank you to Leslie, Anthony, Peter, Emma, Todd, Charles, Mario, Kate and Karen for the diligent work you do in supporting us members. Thank you to David Woolman and all the building attendants, to Creon, Basil, Anthony, Kylie, Nicky, Belinda, Ben, Karen and all the catering staff who keep me well fed and who are always kind to me. Thank you to Hansard, PNSG, the research library and the cleaning staff for your behind-the-scenes work, and to our protective security officers for keeping us safe and secure.

In particular, I want to thank Mark Herbst, Aimee Travers and Corey Langman for their invaluable legal advice. They have shown me enormous patience. Thanks also go to my tightknit One Nation team—Julie, Jarryd and Linda—for their support and counsel. Anyone who has been in my office will know that I adore the 40th birthday present they gave me recently, an Aboriginal painting by South Australian artist Audrey Brumby that hangs proudly on my office wall.

I thank my parliamentary colleagues for warmly welcoming me to this place and for being, on the whole, helpful and hospitable. This was particularly the case after my first substantial debate in the chamber, when I had a number of members visit my office to offer moral support.

I have received helpful and specific advice from many, including both the Labor and Liberal leaders, the Hon. Kyam Maher and the Hon. Nicola Centofanti. I greatly respect the Attorney-General's passion for South Australia's Aboriginal community.

Fellow veterinarian Dr Centofanti and all her Liberal colleagues have been open to me and informative, keeping me abreast of their party position on matters, and I thank them for that. On the government benches, I am appreciative of the Hon. Emily Bourke, who I know I can go to for advice, and also the Hon. Clare Scriven in particular. They have been helpful and openly communicated with me.

To my fellow committee members, I thank the Hon. Tammy Franks for inviting me to participate on the dolphin select committee, and the Hon. Jing Lee, the Hon. Tung Ngo and the Hon. Connie Bonaros for their participation and support for the committee I have been selected to chair. To my chamber neighbours, the Hon. Stephen Wade and the Hon. Robert Simms, I thank you for your advice on parliamentary processes. The Hon. Mr Wade has been a good-hearted neighbour, who has been very supportive and, on occasion, fought for my right to be heard.

Given the commonly held views of this place from the public, I continue to be surprised and thankful for the pleasant atmosphere in the chamber and halls of parliament between members and staff. Despite disagreements, there is kindness and a businesslike attitude in how members conduct themselves. I have no time or reason to hold grudges or take personally any disagreements, no matter how passionate they might be, and I believe this is reciprocated by you all.

Ultimately, we are all here because the South Australian people put their trust in us to represent their views faithfully and in good conscience. We are their servants and must strive to live up to their expectations. I am finding this is not always easy, but it certainly is rewarding.

I finally want to thank the South Australian people, especially those who have taken the time to reach out to me. Your views are welcome, appreciated and thoroughly considered. To everyone present and those watching outside these walls, I wish you a joyful and peaceful festive season and look forward to returning to this place with renewed vigour in 2023. Merry Christmas.

The PRESIDENT (17:26): I will just add some brief remarks before I put the adjournment motion. I sincerely would like to thank the chamber staff: Chris, Guy, Leslie, Emma, Anthony, Todd, Mario, Karen, Charles and Kate. We could not get this done without your hard work and, in particular to the two gentlemen sitting in front of me, your advice. To the two whips, the Hon. Mr Hunter and the Hon. Ms Curran, thank you so much for everything you do trying to keep this place ticking over and keeping me in the loop.

Nicky and Karen in the Blue Room—everybody knows, if you have been here for a while, to not mention them in these remarks could be extremely dangerous with regard to the food you could be served at some stage, so in particular I acknowledge them. I really want to acknowledge Baz, Kylie, Anthony and Sharon in the members' refreshment room, who keep the caffeine going, because I notice a number of you, if you do not have your coffee, are not all that pleasant to deal with at times.

I really appreciate the remarks of leaders of parties. We are a small chamber. I do really enjoy it when we have a spirited debate but there is a sense of humour and a bit of self-deprecation at times. I take the opportunity to wish you all, your families, your friends and, importantly, your staff a very peaceful, happy Christmas. I look forward to seeing you all in the new year.

Motion carried.