Tuesday 22 March, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (15:39): I rise to speak in support of the Legal Services Commission (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2016. As has been pointed out, the bill was introduced into the house by the Attorney in February, and amends the Legal Services Commission Act 1977. It is evident that the variations contained within the bill have arisen from what was a review into the delivery of legal aid in criminal cases by the commission that, I believe, occurred in 2011, as well as the subsequent report entitled 'The Governance Structure of the Commission and a Public Defender's Office for South Australia.'

I understand that under the current composition of the Legal Services Commission here in South Australia there is a 10-member board made up of a chairman, who must be a judge or a legal practitioner of five years' or more standing; a person whom, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, is appropriate to represent assisted persons; three people nominated by the Attorney-General; three people nominated by the Law Society; one person nominated by the commission, who is an employee of the commission; and, finally, the director of the commission. The bill aims to reduce that board from 10 members to up to five.

It also proposes to change the criteria of appointment to make things like skills, expertise, knowledge and other considerations relevant when a commissioner is appointed. I understand the bill also forms a legal professional reference committee and, from advice we have received from the Attorney, we understand that will be given broad jurisdiction to advise the commission in relation to any matter referred to it.

Obviously that is quite broad, and the committee will be made up of seven members, with bodies such as the Law Society and the Bar Association able to nominate two members each. I believe that is based on the Queensland model. Consultation has gone out on the bill and various deliberations have been received, but I will let the shadow attorney speak to those. Overall I am happy to commend the bill to the house.