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Consultation begins on Royal Commission reforms

12 February 2021

South Australians are being encouraged to have their say on changes to the state's Royal Commission laws. 

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the move would ensure South Australia had a modern, robust scheme to manage important investigations and inquiries into the future. 

"Royal Commissions are a vital part of our democracy - they help us identify serious, systemic issues as well as the steps we can take to fix them," Attorney-General Chapman said.

"However, it's clear we need more flexibility in how they operate.

"These proposed reforms act on the recommendations of former Supreme Court Justice and current Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, the Honourable Ann Vanstone in her review of the Royal Commissions Act 1917 - delivering a system that is more flexible and can carry out more comprehensive investigations into matters of public interest." 

She said the proposed reforms include the establishment of a three-tiered system to manage similar investigations covered under the Royal Commissions Act

"A Royal Commission would be at the highest level of this system and, under our proposed reforms, would have expanded powers through the removal of privileges involving self-incrimination, legal professional privilege, public interest immunity and the operation of statutory secrecy," she said. 

"The next level would be a Commission of Inquiry - a less formal, more flexible and less costly type of review that would have similar powers as a Royal Commission, but witnesses would retain the privileges that would be unavailable if they were appearing before a Royal Commission. 

"The third tier would be the establishment of Government Inquiries, which would be similar to the Formal Review process that exists in Victoria.

"These inquiries would have no coercive powers but can prepare reports, refer matters to public sector agencies and make recommendations." 

Under the proposed reforms, offences would be created to deal with failure to comply with either a Royal Commission or a Commission of Inquiry. 

To view the report of the Honourable Ann Vanstone QC, learn more about the changes and make a submission, visit: https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/royal-commissions-laws