I rise to pay tribute to a man who has served South Australians as our state Coroner for nearly 15 years, Mr Mark Johns. It is timely that I do so, as his replacement has now commenced in the role, and I note the Legislative Council is planning its own motion tomorrow to recognise Mr Johns' service.
The role of the Coroner is often to advocate on behalf of those who have died before their time and to identify where organisations or systems have let them down. During his tenure, he oversaw the investigation of a number of highly complex and deeply tragic matters. Names such as Chloe Valentine and Zahra Abrahimzadeh are etched into our collective memories. He gave these victims a voice.
The government acknowledges Mr Johns' absolute commitment to the job and his capacity to cut to the heart of the matter. Thanks to him, his recommendations can ensure we learn from the mistakes of the past. His legacy is the improved processes that have been instituted and implemented across government. In his time as Coroner, Mr Johns showed himself to be forensic in his examination of key witnesses, even-handed in his consideration of the facts and competing testimony, and more than willing to challenge those who appeared before him if he felt they were being disingenuous, less than forthcoming or flat out incompetent. His work often provided a sense of closure to those who had lost someone they loved, answering sometimes many questions surrounding their deaths.
While it is high-profile cases that are often in the public's attention, there is considerably more to the work of the Coroner's office. Each year, the Coroner considers more than 2,000 deaths that are reported to his office and determines whether a formal inquest is warranted and the type of work that may be required to determine the cause of death.
I also congratulate Mr David Whittle, Mr Johns' successor as Coroner. He has served as a magistrate for many years and has a reputation for being an extremely hard worker. I have every confidence that he, too, will serve South Australia as well in this challenging role.