Director of Public Prosecutions (Pension Entitlements) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Last Friday, I announced that Justice Martin Hinton, a current Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, would be appointed to the position of Director of Public Prosecutions. Justice Hinton will resign his commission as a Justice of the Supreme Court to become the first ever former Supreme Court judge to take on this important role once this bill has passed through the parliament.

I take this opportunity to place on the parliamentary record that Justice Hinton is a highly respected member of the judiciary and has vast experience in criminal law. Prior to his appointment to the bench in 2016, he held the role of solicitor-general for nearly a decade. His proposed appointment has been universally welcomed. The government's wish to appoint Justice Martin Hinton to the role of Director of Public Prosecutions has resulted in the need to reconsider the terms and conditions under which a director can be appointment.

In order to attract high-calibre candidates such as Justice Hinton to the role both now and in the future, the Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1991 must be amended so that where a person to be appointed is already entitled to a pension under the Judges' Pension Act 1971, the terms and conditions upon which the director is appointed can include the application of the Judges' Pension Act 1971 as if the director were a judge. This approach is consistent with my desire to elevate the position of Director of Public Prosecutions to a higher standing and is a similar approach to that taken in New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (Pension Entitlements) Amendment Bill 2019 therefore proposes to amend the Director of Public Prosecutions Act to insert new provisions allowing the instrument of appointment for the Director of Public Prosecutions to apply the Judges' Pensions Act to, or in relation to, the director as if service as the director is judicial service under that act, provided the director is or has been a judge as defined under the Judges' Pensions Act, or has held an office that is treated as if it were judicial service under the Judges' Pensions Act. In the case of the appointment of a sitting Supreme Court judge or Solicitor-General to the role of director, it is entirely appropriate to apply the Judges' Pensions Act.

For a person appointed as director who is a current Supreme Court judge, such as Justice Hinton, the bill means that the terms and conditions of his appointment remain the same and that that service as director will be treated as judicial service under the Judges' Pensions Act. Not all persons appointed as director will have the benefit of the application of the Judges' Pensions Act to them. A director who has never been a judge and never held a position that is treated as judicial service—i.e. the Solicitor-General—will not be eligible.

Therefore, only a person who has been a judge as defined by the Judges' Pensions Act or who has had a role such as Solicitor-General, where the Judges' Pensions Act is applied to their service, will be entitled to include in this instrument of appointment a clause stating that the Judges' Pensions Act applies to them. I thank the opposition spokesman, the Hon. Kyam Maher of the other place, for indicating his support and that of the opposition for this appointment after I had spoken to him last week and this week.

The position of the Director of Public Prosecutions is an important one and one that is and should be beyond party politics. By passing this bill, as we trust we can today with the indication of support from the opposition that this matter be progressed, South Australians will indeed be well served by a director of Justice Hinton's calibre and well served by others of his calibre in the future. I commend the bill to members of the house and seek leave to have the explanation of clauses inserted without my reading it.

Explanation of Clauses

Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title

2—Amendment provisions

These clauses are formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1991

3—Insertion of section 4A

This clause inserts a new section as follows:

4A—Pension entitlements

This clause allows the Governor, in appointing a person with previous judicial service (or service that is equated with judicial service for the purposes of the Judges' Pensions Act 1971) as the Director of Public Prosecutions, to apply the Judges' Pensions Act 1971 to the appointment, so that service as the Director would be equated with a period of judicial service under that Act.