Legislative Council: Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Declared Public Precincts

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:45): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General about the declared public precincts in the CBD.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S. LEE: According to an InDaily article published on Friday 27 October, SA Police have arrested and charged 44 people for breaking strict bans on entering the Adelaide CBD around North Terrace and Rundle Mall, with offenders facing fines of up to $1,250. The article goes on to state, however, the various concerns of the program held by independent bodies, including the Law Society of SA President, James March, who said:

The society is concerned about the potential for the regime to affect disproportionately Aboriginal, young and disadvantaged people.

The society has asked the Attorney-General's Department to provide the evidence upon which the decision to expand the regime was based.

Measures that give extraordinary powers to state authorities that significantly restrict individual rights and liberties much be based on sound evidence. Without the evidence being published, it is difficult to see how the public can have confidence in the credibility of such measures.

My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. Can the Attorney-General confirm whether there is any sound evidence to support his decision to expand the declared public precincts in the CBD and extend this operation until April next year?

2. If there is indeed any sound evidence, why has it not been released and will the Attorney-General commit to publicly releasing the evidence upon which a decision to expand the regime was based?

3. What further steps is the Attorney-General taking to ensure that this operation is not disproportionately affecting disadvantaged people, including young people and Aboriginal Australians?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:47): I thank the honourable member for her questions. In relation to question 1, I can confirm that these decisions are made, as they have been in the past under local, Liberal and Labor governments, on evidence that's put forward to the government by the police in relation to release of information. I am happy to check to see if it is appropriate to release information. Of course, there may well be operational issues that it wouldn't be appropriate to release, but I can seek some advice.

In relation to the honourable member's final question, there are certainly things that are being put in place that make sure it's not just a police but a multiagency response. I have talked previously about the safety and wellbeing task force established by the government and, for example, in August of this year, the new safer place to gather site that was established at Edwards Park by the Department of Human Services.