The Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) tables an annual report each year in the Parliament of South Australia. Each annual report outlines financial performance, key initiatives for the department and support of whole-of-goverment initiatives.
To: The Honourable Vickie Chapman MP
Minister for Planning and Local Government
This annual report will be presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of Public Sector Act 2009, Associations Incorporation Act 1985, Authorised Betting Operations Act 2000, Building Work Contractors Act 1995, Carers’ Recognition Act 2005, Casino Act 1997, Companies (Administration) Act 1982, Conveyancers Act 1994, Co-operatives National Law (South Australia) Act 2013, Fair Trading Act 1987, Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Act 2017, Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Regulations 2018, Gaming Machines Act 1992, Land Agents Act 1994, Land Valuers Act 1995, Liquor Licensing Act 1997, Plumbers, Gas fitters and Electricians Act 1995, Residential Parks Act 2007, Residential Tenancies Act 1995, Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995, Security and Investigation Industry Act 1995 and the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.
This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.
Submitted on behalf of the Attorney-General’s Department by:
Caroline Mealor, Chief Executive
29 September 2020
The Attorney-General’s Department has continued to deliver high quality services to the South Australian public and government during 2019-20, a year that will be remembered as one of tremendous challenge and change.
Our response to communities most impacted by disaster events, and our ability to show flexibility and adaptability in delivering key services during this year, showcase the level of commitment our department has to public service.
The agency’s support of bushfire ravaged communities in early 2020 included legal support, offered through community legal centres and funded via our Policy and Community division. Our Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit (FERU) temporarily suspended debt collection for people affected by the fires, and Consumer and Business Services (CBS) waived the cost of replacement births, deaths and marriages certificates, fast-tracking liquor licence applications and waiving fees for fundraising events established to support those in need.
CBS also provided consumer advice to communities affected by fires, which are often targeted by conmen posing as licensed tradespeople.
As the impact of COVID-19 upon South Australia increased, significant legal advice and a strong legislative response was required to ensure the South Australian Government was able to effectively respond to this public health emergency.
The Crown Solicitor’s Office (CSO) worked tirelessly to provide advice on a myriad of issues and Legislative Services played a key role in shaping the whole-of-government legislative response; drafting, changing and administering legislation to protect South Australians and local jobs and strengthening the powers available to the State Coordinator. This work also included measures to better protect commercial and private residential tenants.
This has meant and continues to mean working with other government agencies on an unprecedented scale to ensure our laws adapt to the realities we were (and still are) facing during the pandemic and that the day-to-day functions of government can continue as normally as possible.
CBS has also played a vital role supporting the hospitality and real estate sectors during the pandemic, as well as consumers and other stakeholders more generally, by providing regular information, advice and general support during this period of frequent regulatory change. Importantly, CBS co-ordinated the provision of temporary relief with respect to liquor licensing fees, saving the industry some $3.5 million.
With respect to our other public facing areas, the FERU ceased enforcement activity against clients given the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. For other areas such as the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Victims’ Rights Commission, the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA), the Public Trustee and the Office of the Small Business Commissioner, the pandemic has prompted new ways of working, to ensure the public still receives the same high level of service it has come to expect from us, albeit not always face-to-face.
Faced with the cessation of jury trials for a number of months, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) provided valuable assistance to the Coroner in reducing the backlog of work whilst a number of witness assistance officers worked in the OPA. Several staff from the Ombudsman’s Office also assisted the Small Business Commissioner in managing case and mediation matters.
COVID-19 also resulted in changes to the way in which AGD staff and business units worked together. Our IT and Human Resources areas are to be commended for their efforts to ensure staff had access to the equipment, technology and information needed to work from home, where this was possible.
Despite the pandemic, our work to support the Government’s legislative reform agenda has continued in 2019-20, with several key reforms introduced to Parliament underway or developed over the past financial year, including:
- Reforms to the Freedom of Information Act
- Acting on the recommendations of the Martin review into Sentencing Discounts
- Commencing the final stage of reforms to the state’s liquor licensing system
- Restricting the sale of nitrous oxide canisters to better protect the community
- Reforming South Australia’s gambling laws.
A major milestone was reached by Forensic Science SA (FSSA), with the installation of a new CT scanner to help reduce waiting times for post-mortems, a valuable addition to the already comprehensive technological resources available to FSSA.
It has also been something of a year of change for staff within AGD, as staff across a number of business units moved into the new GPO Exchange building – a state of the art office building in the heart of the CBD. This has offered an exciting opportunity to revisit how we work and develop new ways of working together.
Looking ahead, we have recently welcomed planning and local government functions into our agency, with the Attorney-General taking on the additional portfolios of Minister for Planning and Local Government. I look forward to working with the staff who have joined the department.
I would like to thank the Executive Management Group for their efforts over the past year, the leadership they have shown and the support they have provided to me.
It continues to be a privilege to work with the Attorney-General, the Honourable Vickie Chapman and her staff and to support the progression of the government’s justice agenda.
During 2019-20 the following changes to the agency’s structure and objectives occurred as a result of machinery of government changes:
- The Office of the Small Business Commissioner transferred to AGD from 1 July 2019.
- The Commissioner for Victims’ Rights
- The Commissioner for Equal Opportunity
- The Commissioner for Small Business
- The Director of Public Prosecutions
- The Public Advocate
- The Ombudsman
- The South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- State Records
- The Public Trustee
Other agencies reporting to the Deputy Premier and Attorney-General, the Hon Vickie Chapman MP, that submit their own annual report:
- The Electoral Commissioner
- The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption
- The Judicial Conduct Commissioner
The Attorney-General is a member of Cabinet and responsible for:
- specific legislation and the state's legal system
- developing and implementing policy
- legal action relevant to the state government.
On 29 July 2020, the Attorney-General also became responsible for the Planning and Local Government Ministerial Portfolio.
Dr. Chris Bleby SC
Dr. Bleby was the Solicitor-General of South Australia during 2019-20. The Solicitor-General is a statutory officer appointed by the Governor under the Solicitor-General Act 1972. The Solicitor-General is the second law officer of the state. Acting on the instructions of the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General advises the state and appears as counsel on behalf of the state, including on behalf of the Crown Solicitor and Director of Public Prosecutions, as required.
Dr. Bleby was appointed to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal commencing on 4 May 2020.
Mike Wait SC
Mike was the Crown Solicitor of South Australia during 2019-20. As Crown Solicitor, he was responsible for leading the CSO, which comprises the Public Law, Civil Litigation, Crown Counsel, Outposted Lawyers and Commercial, Environment and Native Title sections. The CSO provides advice to, and represents, the South Australian Government on behalf of the Attorney-General. This includes providing legal services to Cabinet, Ministers and South Australian Government agencies on a wide variety of legal issues.
Mike was appointed the Solicitor-General, commencing 3 August 2020.
Adam is the Executive Director for the Policy and Communities division, which includes the Justice Policy and Analytics team and the Strategic Communications team which provide advice and support to the Attorney-General and the broader department. The division also consists of the FERU, and the offices of the Ombudsman, Public Advocate, Public Trustee, Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Commissioner for Small Business and the Commissioner for Victims' Rights which aim to protect the rights of the public.
Andrew is the Executive Director of the Finance, People and Performance division. He is the Chief Financial Officer and responsible for leading a range of functions including Financial Services, Human Resources, Facilities, Performance and Business Services and State Records SA. The division also includes the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).
Chris is the Director of Forensic Science SA (FSSA), which provides independent scientific and pathology services to the justice system of South Australia in the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, Pathology and Toxicology. FSSA collaborates closely with the tertiary sector, in particular the three local universities, to ensure it maintains a high quality and contemporary scientific service through research, training and teaching.
Dini is the Commissioner of Consumer Affairs and Liquor & Gambling with Consumer & Business Services (CBS). CBS has a very broad portfolio including consumer protection, product safety, occupational licensing, liquor licensing, gambling regulation, charities regulation, residential tenancies and births, deaths and marriages
Joanna is the Executive Director of the Legal and Legislative division. The division includes Legislative Services, who provide legal and policy advice on legislative reform, Parliamentary Counsel, who provide legislative drafting services to Members of South Australia's Parliament, and Forensic Science SA who provides forensic science services and undertakes award-winning research in forensic science. The division also consists of the CSO and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
John is the Chief Recovery Officer and Director, Fines Enforcement and Recovery. The role is supported by the FERU which is responsible for the enforcement and recovery of court fines, overdue expiation fees, debts owed to the Victims of Crime Fund and civil debt owed to state government agencies. In addition to the recovery of debts, FERU provides a range of non-financial options for individuals to resolve outstanding fines such as community service.
Mark is the Executive Director of the Projects and Technology division. He is responsible for leading Technology, Project Delivery, Public Safety and Information Management services. In addition to supporting the operations of the Attorney-General’s Department, the division provides Public Safety and Justice Information services to more than twenty other Government agencies.
Martin Hinton QC
Martin was appointed as the Director of Public Prosecutions on 18 November 2019. The Director is a statutory officer, independent of the Attorney-General’s Department, who initiates and conducts criminal prosecutions in the Magistrates, District and Supreme courts of South Australia. The Director also initiates and conducts appeals in the Full Court of South Australia and the High Court of South Australia. The Director also oversees the operations of the ODPP comprising Trial Counsel, Solicitors (including Confiscations), and Business Services (including the Witness Assistance Service) to ensure the ODPP provides the people of South Australia with an independent and effective criminal prosecution service that is timely, efficient and just.
Having acted as the Public Trustee for a significant period, Nicolle was appointed the Public Trustee on 13 July 2020.
The Public Trustee is responsible for the efficient management of the Public Trustee Office and the effective implementation of the Public Trustee Act 1995. The role encompasses acting as Administrator, Executor or Trustee of deceased estates, as Administrator of estates of protected persons under the Guardianship and Administration Act, as Manager of estates of protected persons under the Aged and Infirm Persons’ Property Act and as Attorney or Agent. The Public Trustee is also the Trustee for minors as a result of distributions in intestate estates administered by private administrators and by appointment as trustees for other trusts and Wills
Action for Breach of Promise of Marriage (Abolition) Act 1971
Acts Interpretation Act 1915
Adelaide Children's Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital (Testamentary Dispositions) Act 1990
Administration and Probate Act 1919
Administrative Arrangements Act 1994
Administrative Decisions (Effect of International Instruments) Act 1995
Age of Majority (Reduction) Act 1971
Aged and Infirm Persons' Property Act 1940
Aircraft Offences Act 1971
ANZ Executors and Trustee Company (South Australia) Limited (Transfer of Business) Act 1996
Associations Incorporation Act 1985
Australia Acts (Request) Act 1985
Australian Crime Commission (South Australia) Act 2004
Authorised Betting Operations Act 2000
Bail Act 1985
Ballot Act 1862
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996
Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009
Building Work Contractors Act 1995
Burial and Cremation Act 2013
Business Names (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2012
Casino Act 1997
Child Sex Offenders Registration Act 2006
Civil Liability Act 1936
Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995
Collections for Charitable Purposes Act 1939
Commercial Arbitration Act 2011
Commonwealth Legislative Power Act 1931*
Commonwealth Places (Administration of Laws) Act 1970
Commonwealth Powers (De Facto Relationships) Act 2009
Commonwealth Powers (Family Law) Act 1986
Companies (Administration) Act 1982
Constitutional Powers (Coastal Waters) Act 1979
Conveyancers Act 1994
Co-operatives National Law (South Australia) Act 2013
Coroners Act 2003
Corporations (Administrative Actions) Act 2001
Corporations (Ancillary Provisions) Act 2001
Corporations (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2001
Corporations (South Australia) Act 1990
Courts Administration Act 1993
COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020
Credit (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2010
Credit (Transitional Arrangements) Act 2010
Criminal Assets Confiscation Act 2005
Criminal Investigation (Covert Operations) Act 2009
Criminal Investigation (Extraterritorial Offences) Act 1984
Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007
Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Act 2007
Criminal Law (High Risk Offenders) Act 2015
Criminal Law (Legal Representation) Act 2001
Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935
Criminal Procedure Act 1921
Cross-border Justice Act 2009
Crown Proceedings Act 1992
Da Costa Samaritan Fund (Incorporation of Trustees) Act 1953
Death (Definition) Act 1983
Debtors Act 1936
Defamation Act 2005
Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1991
District Court Act 1991
Domestic Partners Property Act 1996
Domicile Act 1980
Dust Diseases Act 2005
Election of Senators Act 1903
Electoral Act 1985
Electronic Communications Act 2000
Encroachments Act 1944
Enforcement of Judgments Act 1991
Environment, Resources and Development Court Act 1993
Equal Opportunity Act 1984
Essential Services Act 1981
Estates Tail Act 1881 (The)
Evidence (Affidavits) Act 1928
Evidence Act 1929
Expiation of Offences Act 1996
Fair Trading Act 1987
Family Relationships Act 1975
Farm Debt Mediation Act 2018
Federal Courts (State Jurisdiction) Act 1999
Fences Act 1975
Financial Sector Reform (South Australia) Act 1999
Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Act 2017
Foreign Judgments Act 1971
Free Presbyterian Church (Vesting of Property) Act 2001
Freedom of Information Act 1991
Frustrated Contracts Act 1988
Gambling Administration Act 1995
Gambling Administration Act 2019
Gaming Machines Act 1992
Graffiti Control Act 2001
Guardianship and Administration Act 1993
Guardianship of Infants Act 1940
Hairdressers Act 1988
Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012
Industrial Referral Agreements Act 1986
Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1972
Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009
James Brown Memorial Trust Incorporation Act 1990
Judicial Administration (Auxiliary Appointments and Powers) Act 1988
Judicial Conduct Commissioner Act 2015
Juries Act 1927
Jurisdiction of Courts (Cross-vesting) Act 1987
Justices of the Peace Act 2005
Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017
Land Acquisition Act 1969
Land Agents Act 1994
Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994
Land Valuers Act 1994
Landlord and Tenant Act 1936
Law Reform (Contributory Negligence and Apportionment of Liability) Act 2001
Legal Practitioners Act 1981
Legal Services Commission Act 1977
Legislation Revision and Publication Act 2002
Limitation of Actions Act 1936
Liquor Licensing Act 1997
Little Sisters of the Poor (Testamentary Dispositions) Act 1986
Lobbyists Act 2015
Lottery and Gaming Act 1936
Magistrates Act 1983
Magistrates Court Act 1991
Marketable Securities Act 1971
Married Persons (Separate Legal Status) Act 2019
Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1983
Mercantile Law Act 1936
Minors Contracts (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1979
Misrepresentation Act 1972
National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2018
Native Title (South Australia) Act 1994
Notaries Public Act 2016
Oaths Act 1936
Off-shore Waters (Application of Laws) Act 1976
Ombudsman Act 1972
Parliamentary Committees Act 1991
Partnership Act 1891
Personal Property Securities (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2009
Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995
Police Complaints and Discipline Act 2016
Powers of Attorney and Agency Act 1984
Prices Act 1948
Problem Gambling Family Protection Orders Act 2004
Professional Standards Act 2004
Prohibited Areas (Application of State Laws) Act 1952
Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018
Public Trustee Act 1995
Racial Vilification Act 1996
Real Property (Commonwealth Titles) Act 1924
Real Property (Foreign Governments) Act 1950
Recreation Grounds (Regulations) Act 1931
Relationships Register Act 2016
Residential Parks Act 2007
Residential Tenancies Act 1995
Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995
Royal Commissions Act 1917
Royal Style and Titles Act 1973
RSL Memorial Hall Trust Act 1997*
Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act 1986
Sale of Goods Act 1895
Sea-Carriage Documents Act 1998
Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995
Security and Investigation Industry Act 1995
Sentencing Act 2017
Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008
Serious and Organised Crime (Unexplained Wealth) Act 2009
Settled Estates Act 1880
Settled Estates Act Amendment Act 1889 (The)
Sheriff's Act 1978
Shop Theft (Alternative Enforcement) Act 2000
Small Business Commissioner Act 2011
Solicitor-General Act 1972
South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013
Spent Convictions Act 2009
St. John (Discharge of Trusts) Act 1997
State Records Act 1997
Subordinate Legislation Act 1978
Summary Offences Act 1953
Supreme Court Act 1935
Surrogacy Act 2019
Surveillance Devices Act 2016
Survival of Causes of Action Act 1940
Tattooing Industry Control Act 2015
Terrorism (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2002
Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2005
Terrorism (Preventative Detention) Act 2005
Thomas Hutchinson Trust and related Trusts (Winding Up) Act 1995
Trustee Act 1936
Trustee Companies Act 1988
Unclaimed Goods Act 1987
Victims of Crime Act 2001
Waite Trust (Miscellaneous Variations) Act 1996*
Warehouse Liens and Storage Act 1990
Wills Act 1936
Young Offenders Act 1993
Youth Court Act 1993
* Denotes Act of limited application