Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Country Cabinet

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (15:03): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the minister please inform the council about country cabinet held on the Yorke Peninsula last week?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:03): Yes, I certainly will. I was in the front seat of the car and not strapped into the back seat on the way to the Yorke Peninsula; I had a great view from the front seat. I had the pleasure of travelling to the Yorke Peninsula last week, along with the rest of cabinet, for the Malinauskas government's most recent country cabinet.

This is a fantastic initiative, and I can remember being involved in country cabinets from the very first time I started as a staffer more than 20 years ago with the Rann government and its initiative of cabinets held right around South Australia, a tradition that was proudly continued under the Weatherill Labor government but cruelly taken away by the Marshall Liberal government, which many in the region said was just another indication of taking people outside Adelaide for granted. That's what people tell me they thought about the Marshall government's decision to stop country cabinets.

Very pleasingly, country cabinets have now been reinstated. It takes a Labor government to listen directly to country people, unfortunately. It was, I think, a very welcome visit by many, many ministers, who travelled the length and the breadth of the Yorke Peninsula. We have heard this week the Hon. Clare Scriven, my colleague, talking about the—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Yorke Peninsula is important to me. Keep going.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: It's exceptionally important, sir—exceptionally important, sir. I had the opportunity whilst on the Yorke Peninsula to—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. K.J. MAHER: —have various meetings that touched on a number of my portfolio areas in Aboriginal affairs and industrial relations. Also, it was a very touching moment to visit Kylie Hicklin from Kadina, who was a fierce advocate for voluntary assisted dying, who saw her father, her aunty and her uncle all pass away in their 40s from motor neurone disease. She has the disease herself and advocated fiercely during the discussion on that bill.

It was a real pleasure to visit her again in her home in Kadina, now that the legislation has been passed, and to hear firsthand from Kylie about what that has done for her ability to know that she will have some control, should she choose to use it, in the end and how much easier that's made her life and what she knows her life will hold, after having seen so many close to her suffer at the end of their lives. It was a good opportunity to talk to people in a range of my portfolio areas, as well as talk to Kylie, who is one of the bravest people I have encountered during my time in parliament, being able to talk about her condition in life to help others in the future.

It was also, as the Hon. Clare Scriven has talked about, a very good opportunity to hear firsthand at a community forum a whole range of questions on a whole range of matters. The feedback certainly was that members of the community appreciated having access firsthand to ministers in real time, to talk and answer questions. As I said earlier today, I am constantly amazed at the high regard that Minister Geoff Brock is held in in country areas. He is rarely referred to as a minister. He is generally referred to as Brockie, and it is a great credit to the esteem that he is held in in country areas.

Finally, I would like to note the presence and the great contribution that the local member, the member for Narungga, Fraser Ellis, made to the visit to the Yorke Peninsula. Certainly, the member for Narungga, Fraser Ellis, organised many meetings with many ministers and his constituents, including myself. I know we appreciated that very greatly, as well as the hospitality that so many on the Yorke Peninsula showed to so many of us.