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Changes to the law

The following Bills fall under the responsibility of the Attorney-General and are currently open for consultation, before Parliament or have recently passed Parliament.

Child protection Bills

Access current Bills related to protecting children and young people which are currently before Parliament or have recently passed Parliament.

Summary Offences (Disrespectful Conduct in Court) Amendment Bill

The Summary Offences (Disrespectful Conduct in Court) Amendment Bill aims to address disruptive or offensive behaviour in court.

The offence would apply to a party to the proceeding, and would include behaviour such as refusing to stand for a judge, using offensive or threatening language. It aims to resolve the issue of this behaviour undermining the authority of the court and causing interruption to the proceedings.

It will not apply to involuntary behaviour, such as movement or vocalising due to a medical condition or disability.

The Bill does not seek to change the current offence of contempt of court or powers to remove someone from the court, but to add an offence where there is currently a gap.

The Bill proposes that the offence would not apply to youths or to any proceedings in the Criminal jurisdiction of the Youth Court.

The proposed offence would have a maximum penalty of $1250 or three months imprisonment.

Criminal Assets Confiscation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

This Bill has passed Parliament.

New laws passed Parliament in 2016 to allow the state government to strip ‘prescribed’ drug offenders of all their property, regardless of whether or not it is connected to a particular criminal offence or is a proceed of crime. A prescribed drug offender is someone who has three drug convictions over a 10 year period for a range of nominated offences, such as trafficking or manufacturing drugs.

The Criminal Assets Confiscation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018 seeks to modify these laws so that property can be excluded from the automatic forfeiture if it is not financially viable. For example, if the cost of collecting and selling an item would be higher than the value of the goods, or if it would be uneconomical to seize the property, the Crown can apply for it to be excluded. This decision would be made by the Director of Public Prosecution.

Other items are also excluded by Regulation, including property such as personal items, children’s necessities and certain household items.

The Bill amends provisions introduced by the Criminal Assets Confiscation (Prescribed Drug Offenders) Amendment Act 2016, which will apply from 10 August 2018.

Judicial Conduct Commissioner (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018

This Bill amends the Judicial Conduct Commissioner Act 2015 to enhance the Commissioner’s effectiveness, and to enable him to deploy resources in the most efficient manner.

Under the changes, the Commissioner would be able to investigate matters when new evidence comes to light, enlivening a complaint that would otherwise have to have been dismissed.

In addition, the Commissioner would be able to dismiss complaints without a formal preliminary examination– ensuring resources can be directed to those complaints that require formal consideration and investigation.

These changes also give the Commissioner broader discretion when disclosing the identity of a complainant, to give people greater confidence that their complaint will be dealt with sensitively and appropriately.

More information

Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2018

This Bill has been introduced into Parliament and aims to increase consumer protection around ticket scalping.

It will be illegal for anyone to sell tickets or advertise the sale of tickets at a price that is more than 110% of the original ticket price.

The law will apply to ticket sales for all sporting and entertainment events in South Australia (SA), where the event is subject to a resale restriction. An event will no longer need to be declared as a ‘major event’ in order for ticket scalping protections to apply.

It will also be an offence for anyone to use ‘ticket bots’ or other software to purchase tickets to an event in SA.

Ticket reselling will be allowed, as long as the advertised price is capped at 110% of the original ticket price and provided that certain information is disclosed in the advertisement.

Before the regulations are drafted, the government welcomes feedback from business and consumers on:

  • the number of tickets that can be sold in one transaction.
  • events that may be excluded from the new laws.
  • ticket re-sellers recouping the administrative or transaction costs associated with the original ticket purchase.
  • software or ‘bots’ used to purchase tickets.

 

More information

Criminal Procedure (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018

The Criminal Procedure (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018 has passed Parliament. The Bill was initiated to address and remedy some unintended consequences of major indictable reforms introduced by the Summary Procedure (Indictable Offences) Amendment Act 2017.

Once commenced, the legislation will impact on the procedures applicable to all major indictable matters as they progress through the criminal justice system.

The key matters resolved by the Bill include:

  • restoring a provision related to the procedure for pleading guilty in writing
  • addressing any unintentional exposure of parties to costs orders in what has historically been a “no-costs” jurisdiction
  • resolving the unintentional re-instatement of previously repealed provisions related to “discreditable conduct notices”; and
  • easing any onerous stipulations requiring defendants to sign case statements only in the presence of their legal representative.

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Electoral (Prisoner Voting) Amendment Bill 2018

A Bill has been introduced proposing that prisoners serving a sentence of more than 3 years be disqualified from voting in a state election while they are serving that sentence.

The Bill outlines that affected prisoners will remain on the electoral roll, and be eligible to vote after their release.

Prisoners serving a sentence of less than 3 years will be continue to be eligible to vote while they are serving their sentence. This change would align South Australian elections with the rules for federal elections.

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Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018

The Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018 has been introduced into Parliament and aims to make gift cards more consumer friendly by providing greater flexibility and certainty for consumers who are often confused by varying rules in relation to gift card expiry dates.

The Bill reduces the detriment caused to consumers when they are forced to redeem gift cards and make purchases that they otherwise might not, simply because of a looming expiry date. It also reduces the financial loss experienced by consumers who do not redeem their gift cards at all, simply because they have been unable to find something that they wish to purchase within the period of time that the gift card is valid.

The Bill eases the pressure placed on consumers by increasing the period of time in which they have to redeem their vouchers, ensuring that they get what they’ve paid for and are more likely to make purchases that they can benefit from.

Gift cards sold in South Australia (SA) will be required to have a minimum expiry period of 3 years. However, the requirements will not apply to gift cards purchased online or over the phone where the gift card is to be delivered to the consumer at an address outside of SA or where the contact details of the consumer provided in connection with the sale of the gift card includes a residential address outside of SA.

Consumer and Business Services is consulting on the draft Regulations and the categories of gift cards that will be exempt from the new provisions – e.g. temporary marketing promotions.



 

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Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2018 | Whistleblower protections

This Bill outlines the circumstances in which a person can appropriately disclose confidential environmental or health information in the public interest. It also outlines when a public officer can disclose public administration information, regardless of any confidentiality or secrecy provisions that may apply.

These protections promote accountability and transparency in government by giving whistleblowers greater protection, and offering clear rules about when information can be appropriately disclosed. It also allows whistleblowers to disclose information to members of the media or a Member of Parliament, should the relevant authority fail to respond within a legislated timeframe. Under the Bill, disclosure to a journalist is an action of last resort.

More information

• Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website

Evidence (Journalists) Amendment Bill 2018 | Shield laws
The Evidence (Journalists) Amendment Bill 2018 passed Parliament on 02 August 2018. The Bill gives journalists clear legal protections when they refuse to disclose information or material that may identify their sources.

These protections promote accountability and transparency in government, and contain safeguards to prevent the laws from being exploited (for example, disclosing information to a journalist for self-gain). In these cases, a court-based public interest test will determine whether or not the journalist must name their source.

Elements to be considered include whether the public interest in disclosing the identity of the informant:
  • outweighs any likely adverse effect of the disclosure on the informant or any other person
  • outweighs the public interest relating to the communication of information by the news media generally
  • outweighs the need of the news media to be able to access information held by potential informants.

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Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Investigation Powers) Amendment Bill 2018
Under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Investigation Powers) Amendment Bill 2018, ICAC will have the ability to choose whether to hold public hearings if it is of interest to the South Australian community. 



Public hearings aim to increase transparency and accountability in the public sector, and promote community confidence in government. 



The matters that the commissioner may take into consideration when deciding to hold a public inquiry are set out in Clause 2 of Schedule 3A of the ICAC Bill.



The new schedule to the ICAC Act will clarify and consolidate the powers and functions of ICAC when investigating maladministration and misconduct in public administration.

More information

Statutes Amendment (Drug Offences) Bill 2018

Drug abuse can have a devastating impact on individuals, their families and the broader community.

The Statutes Amendment (Drug Offences) Bill 2018 has been introduced into Parliament, and proposes a number of changes to crackdown on drug offenders. This includes increased penalties for cannabis possession in line with community expectations, and limiting the number of drug diversions before a person must be charged with an offence.

If passed, this Bill will change the Controlled Substances Act 1984 and the Sentencing Act 2017.

Drug diversion programs

Under the current law, police must allow a person who has been detected for a simple drug possession offence to participate in an intervention program as an alternative to entering the justice system.  

If the person meets the requirements of the intervention program, they do not need to face court. There is currently no limit to the number of times an offender can participate in a drug diversion program.

If passed, this Bill will limit the number of times someone can enter a drug diversion program to 2 in a 4 year period. This change aims to prevent repeat drug offenders from using intervention programs to avoid court and serious penalties, while providing alternative treatment options for first and second time offenders who are seriously trying to rehabilitate.

Cannabis penalties

The Bill recognises the harmful effects of ongoing cannabis use by increasing the maximum penalty for cannabis possession from $500 to $2,000.

If passed, police will still be able issue an expiation notice to a person caught with cannabis instead of prosecuting. An expiation notice allows the person to pay a fee instead of going through the court system.

Increasing penalties for serious drug offenders

Under current drug laws a person can be charged with either a basic offence or an aggravated offence, which attracts harsher penalties. For example, someone who manufactures drugs for sale can have their charges upgraded to an aggravated offence if they are making the drugs for a criminal organisation. 

The Bill proposes that the court takes a person’s relevant criminal history into account when choosing a penalty, with ‘serious drug offenders’ facing the same tough penalties that apply to aggravated offences.

A person is considered a serious drug offender if they have 3 previous convictions in the past 10 years for drug offences, or 2 previous convictions in the past 10 years that involve commercial quantities of drugs or that involve children or school zones.

In addition, maximum fines have doubled from $500,000 to $1 million for people who traffic and manufacture large commercial amounts of controlled drugs and controlled plants.

Example

Under the current law, someone who sells a controlled drug and is charged with a basic offence faces a maximum penalty of $50,000 or 10 years in prison, regardless of how many past drug convictions they have. Under the proposed changes, people with several drug convictions can face harsher penalties up to $75,000 or 15 years imprisonment, in line with penalties for an aggravated offence.

Increasing protections for children

If the Bill passes, a person will no longer be able to receive a suspended sentence or home detention order if they are charged with a drug offence that involves children or that occurs within a school zone. This includes anyone who sells or gives drugs to children.

The Bill also requires the court to consider whether a child was present where drugs were manufactured when choosing a penalty. This would apply in cases where drugs are made at a house where children live or are present.

Terrorism (Police Powers) (Use of Force) Amendment Bill 2018
The provisions outlined in the Bill provide a clear legislative statement that police can use force to protect the community from an attacker in an officially declared terrorist incident.



Amendments in the Bill would make it possible for the Commissioner of Police to make a declaration of a terrorism incident.



This ‘use of force’ amendment would support police to respond appropriately to the situation and to keep the community safe.



These provisions would be similar to the legislation introduced in NSW following the Lindt Café Siege.
The Sentencing (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018
The Sentencing (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018 amends the Sentencing Act 2017 which commenced on 30 April 2018. This Act repealed and replaced the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988.

Integral to the Sentencing Act was the introduction of amendments to home detention provisions contained in the repealed Act, to preclude a home detention order as a sentencing option for certain offences. These include where an adult is sentenced for “serious sexual offences” (if the maximum penalty is at least 5 years imprisonment), and “serious and organised crime offences” (as defined).

Amendments in this Bill are intended to ensure that parity between Commonwealth and State offences is maintained in terms of which offences can and cannot be the subject of a home detention order as much as possible. Included in the amendments are Commonwealth offences covered by the definitions of “serious sexual offences” and “serious and organised crime offences”. The Commonwealth offences included are those that are similar to the State offences already listed. “Attempts” to commit those offences will also be precluded from home detention.

The Bill also includes amendments to address minor issues that have been identified by key stakeholders while implementing the Sentencing Act. These issues appear to have arisen as a result of drafting oversight or are matters that would otherwise benefit from further clarification.

Once commenced, the Bill, in conjunction with regulations (yet to be drafted) and other minor amendments, will clearly specify Commonwealth offences in the list of offences for which a home detention order is not permitted to be granted by the courts.