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Annual report 2019-20

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.

AGD 2019-20 Annual report (PDF) - print friendly version (5MB)

To: The Honourable Vickie Chapman MP

Deputy Premier

Attorney-General

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


From the Chief Executive

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.

Caroline Mealor

Chief Executive

Our strategic focus
Our organisational structure
Changes to the agency

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.
Annual reporting
The following areas of AGD submit their own annual reports: 
  • 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
Our Minister
The Hon Vickie Chapman MP, Deputy Premier and Attorney-General is the state’s principal legal advisor to the government and responsible for the administration of justice.

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.

Key personnel

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 Kilvert

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 Swanson

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 Pearman

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 Soulio

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 Martin

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 Ovenstone

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 Hanson

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.

Nicolle Rantanen

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

Legislation administered by the agency

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