Legislative Council: Thursday, March 23, 2023


First Nations Voice, Parliamentary Sitting

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:42): My questions are to the Attorney-General regarding the special sitting day scheduled for Sunday 26 March 2023. My three questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. What is the estimated total cost to Parliament House, Government House and the Attorney-General's Department, responsible for Aboriginal affairs, to bring about an additional sitting day on a Sunday?

2. Will all these costs be covered by the existing fund of $10 million over the four-year period allocated to implement the South Australian Indigenous Voice to State Parliament or are these costs an additional taxpayer expense?

3. Can the Attorney-General please inform this chamber if the current InDaily online paid advertisement, reading 'Show your support for the First Nations Voice, 11am, Sunday 26th March, on the steps of Parliament House', is also included in these costings?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:43): I thank the honourable member for her question. The advice that I have been given on these matters is that there will be no additional cost to the taxpayer. The parliament sitting on Sunday will be like any parliament time that it sits. It will be met from the budget within parliament. Of course, we sit irregular hours not infrequently. Occasionally, we sit past midnight. There are provisions within the budget for the operating of parliament for regular sitting hours and also sitting hours, as many of us experience, that are not regular. My advice is that there will be no additional cost over and on top of those already provided in terms of parliamentary sitting.

In terms of the cost of other ancillary parts of what's proposed for Sunday, I think it's the protocol unit within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet who organise these events, such as the proclamation of the King, which was a very significant event for many South Australians. As a republican, I would prefer to see us be a republic, but there are many people in South Australia for whom that was a very significant event. I think many would agree that for the proclamation of the King, the event that we had on the steps of Parliament House was an appropriate way to recognise the changing of what is, after all, still the constitutional head of this country.

The protocol unit does things like significant events for the state, such as state funerals. My advice is that the organisation and what is needed to occur on Sunday outside of this building are the work of the protocol unit and that there will be no additional cost to the taxpayer because the protocol unit is budgeted for these sorts of significant events, such as the proclamation of the new King or state funerals.