The following Bills fall under the responsibility of the Attorney-General and are currently open for consultation, before Parliament or have recently passed Parliament.
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.
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.
Drug dependency can have a devastating impact on young people, their futures and their families, and can have negative impacts on the broader community.
The Government of South Australia has introduced new laws into Parliament to help young people and their families address drug dependency through specialised treatment.
The Controlled Substances (Youth Treatment Orders) Amendment Bill 2018 recognises the importance of tackling substance abuse before children reach adulthood, and aims to offer parents an additional option when it is clear that the young person is unlikely to voluntarily engage in treatment and may be a danger to themselves or others.
- Factsheet - Introduction of youth treatment orders Bill (PDF 145KB)
- Controlled Substances (Youth Treatment Orders) Amendment Bill on the South Australian Legislation website
The Limitation of Actions (Child Sexual Abuse) Amendment Bill 2018 has been introduced to Parliament. If passed, the Bill will allow victims of child sexual abuse to seek compensation and access to justice regardless of how long ago their abuse occurred.
Under the current law (Limitations of Actions Act 1936) there is a 3-year time limit for a victim to launch civil legal action against their abuser or other people who may have contributed to their abuse. This means that survivors of child sexual abuse must start legal proceedings by their 21st birthday.
The proposed change will remove this time limitation, bringing South Australia in line with other states and territories. It also addresses a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which found that time limits create significant barriers for survivors.
The Bill recognises the insidious nature and lasting impact of child sexual abuse, which means it can take a long time for survivors to report and discuss their experiences. When survivors do speak-up they often first need support services, such as counselling, rather than pursuing a court case.
By removing the time limit, victims and survivors can seek compensation and justice when they feel able to do so. If passed, the Bill will apply retrospectively, meaning there will be no time limit on old cases, as well as new ones.
The court will still be able to stop a legal action if the lapse of time means that a fair trial is not possible.
- Limitation of Actions (Child Sexual Abuse) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website
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.
- Judicial Conduct Commissioner (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website
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.
- To provide any feedback, please visit yoursay.sa.gov.au/ticket-scalping. Consultation closes 5pm Friday 20 July 2018
- Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website
The Criminal Procedure (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018 has been initiated to address and remedy some unintended consequences of major indictable reforms introduced by the Summary Procedure (Indictable Offences) Amendment Act 2017.
It is acknowledged that there have been some unintended administrative consequences as a result of this new major indictable legislation. Due to the technical nature of the amendments we have been working to resolve these issues as soon as possible. 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 we are working to resolve 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.
- Criminal Procedure (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website
The Sentencing (Release on Licence) Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced on Tuesday 29 May 2018, and passed Parliament on Thursday 21 June 2018.
The Bill responds to community concern about the release of child sex offenders into the community who had had previously been detained indefinitely.
The Bill restricts the availability of the ‘release on licence’ option where a person who has an indefinite sentence may apply to live in the community under strict supervision and conditions.
It also makes it harder for a person to have their indefinite detention ended – where they are discharged into the community without supervision.
Sentencing (Release on Licence) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website.
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.
Electoral (Prisoner Voting) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website
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.
All children and young people deserve to be safe, happy and healthy, and to be protected from abuse. When abuse does occur, our legal system must allow us to prosecute offenders and impose penalties that protect children from further harm.
This Bill addresses difficulties experienced in prosecuting offenders for criminal neglect of children, in particular due to the current definition of “serious harm” as it applies to children.
As children generally have a superior ability to heal from injury compared to adults, it is difficult to establish that the child has suffered “serious harm” under the current definition. “Serious harm” currently refers to harm that endangers, or is likely to endanger a person’s life, result in serious or lengthy physical or mental impairment, or serious disfigurement.
This Bill replaces the words “serious harm” with “harm” to better reflect the impact of injuries inflicted on children in instances of child abuse, cruelty and neglect.
Maximum sentences are also increased under the proposed Bill. A person convicted of neglect causing death to a child or vulnerable adult would face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (currently 15 years). Conviction of neglect causing harm to a child or vulnerable adult would face a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment (currently 5 years for causing serious harm).
Whether the offender caused death or harm, the sentencing court will determine the appropriate sentence considering all the circumstances of the offence, victim and offender.
- Criminal Law Consolidation (Children and Vulnerable Adults) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website
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.
• Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website
The Criminal Law Consolidation (Dishonest Communication with Children) Amendment Bill 2018 passed parliament on 03 July 2018.
The Bill contained amendments to the Criminal Law Consolidation Act that aim to better protect children and young people under 17 years old from adult predators, by allowing police to target grooming behaviour in its early stages. The informal name for this legislation, Carly’s Law, refers to Carly Ryan who was 15 years old when she was murdered by a 50 year old man who lied to her about his age.
The Act supplements existing legislation covering online communication and grooming.
The amendments to the Act create two new offences.
- Maximum 5 years imprisonment for an adult who knowingly communicates with a child and lies about their age to make them appear younger or lies about their identity and meets or arranges to meet a child.
- Maximum 10 years imprisonment for an adult who knowingly communicates with a child and lies about their age to make them appear younger or lies about their identity with the intention of committing an offence against a child.
- Carly Ryan Foundation website and online safety resources
- Criminal Law Consolidation (Dishonest Communication with Children) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website.
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.
- Evidence (Journalists) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website.
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.
- Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Investigation Powers) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website.
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.
The Bill proposes to increase the penalty for cannabis possession to match other controlled drugs. This change recognises the harmful effects of ongoing cannabis use by increasing the maximum penalty from $500 to $2,000 or 2 years imprisonment.
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.
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.
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.