Retired Supreme Court Judge heads Royal Commission Review

Retired Supreme Court Judge the Hon. Ann Vanstone QC has been appointed to lead a review of the legislation governing Royal Commissions undertaken in South Australia.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said that in the 103 years that the Royal Commissions Act 1917 had been in place, there had never been a substantive review of the laws.

“Obviously there have been a number of amendments to the Act– but the most recent, substantial changes were made in the 1990s,” Ms Chapman said.

“Given there will always be matters of public interest that warrant independent scrutiny, and the immense cost of undertaking a Royal Commission, it’s appropriate to review the laws that exist around Royal Commissions to ensure they offer the most effective means of inquiry.”

Attorney-General Chapman said the review would also consider:

  • The scope of powers available to Royal Commissioners
  • How offences relating to Commissions should be prosecuted
  • Suggestions for legislative reform proposed or raised under previous Royal Commissions.

“Ms Vanstone will also look at whether there is need for alternative forms of inquiry that offer greater flexibility, less formality and greater cost-effectiveness, and the powers that could apply in such an instance,” Ms Chapman said.

“Any alternatives could ensure we retain the independence and rigour of the Commission, while embracing a more flexible approach to such matters.

“Ms Vanstone has had a long and distinguished career both in the public sector and on the District and Supreme Courts and I believe she has a strong understanding of the issues she will be considering.

“I look forward to considering her findings in due course.”