Statutes Amendment (SACAT) Bill

Second Reading

  • The Statutes Amendment (SACAT) Bill is the next in a series of bills conferring jurisdiction on the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. SACAT was established in March 2015 and initially conferred with jurisdiction to deal with housing disputes, including residential tenancy disputes; guardianship and administration; consent to medical treatment; advance care directives; and mental health.

Following passage of the Statutes Amendment (SACAT No 2) Act 2017 in late 2017, SACAT took on the functions of reviewing a wide range of administrative decisions, including in areas of local government, land and housing, taxation and superannuation, environment and farming, energy and resources, and food safety and regulation. This was stage 3 of SACAT expansion. This bill comprises the fourth part of a planned five-stage program to confer jurisdiction upon SACAT.

In particular, this bill will amend various acts to transfer to SACAT the functions of the South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010; the disciplinary functions of the Architectural Practice Board under the Architectural Practice Act 2009; and the disciplinary functions of the Veterinary Surgeons Board under the Veterinary Practice Act 2003. It also includes a raft of administrative reviews currently exercised by the Administrative and Disciplinary Division of the District Court under the:

  • Air Transport (Route Licensing—Passenger Services) Act 2002
  • Architectural Practice Act 2009
  • Boxing and Martial Arts Act 2000
  • Building Work Contractors Act 1995
  • Controlled Substances Act 1984 (and eventually Controlled Substances (Pesticides) Regulations 2017)
  • Dangerous Substances Act 1979 (and eventually Dangerous Substances (Dangerous Goods Transport) Regulations 2008
  • Electoral Act 1985
  • Gene Technology Act 2001
  • Hairdressers Act 1988
  • Health and Community Services Complaints Act 2004
  • Health Care Act 2008
  • Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents (Lifetime Support Scheme) Act 2013
  • Motor Vehicles Act 1959
  • Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995
  • Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2003
  • Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995
  • South Australian Public Health Act 2011
  • State Lotteries Act 1966
  • Tattooing Industry Control Act 2015
  • Training and Skills Development Act 2008; and
  • Veterinary Practice Act 2003.

In relation to the transfer of the work of the Health Practitioners Tribunal, this has always been intended for transfer to SACAT at the appropriate stage. At the time of enactment of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, the relevant jurisdiction was conferred on the generalist civil and administrative tribunals already in existence in various states and territories.

As South Australia did not at that time have SACAT, the specialist Health Practitioners Tribunal needed to be established. The forthcoming retirement of the president of the Health Practitioners Tribunal is an ideal time to effect this planned jurisdictional transfer to SACAT and consequent dissolution of the Health Practitioners Tribunal. The bill will also transfer to SACAT the disciplinary functions currently exercised by the Administrative and Disciplinary Division of the District Court under the:

  • Building Work Contractors Act 1995
  • Motor Vehicles Act 1959
  • Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995; and
  • Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995.

From the Supreme Court, the bill will transfer to SACAT the function of hearing reviews against certain hospital licensing decisions of the minister under the Health Care Act 2008. From the Magistrates Court, the bill will transfer to SACAT the functions of dealing with reviews and applications for approvals in relation to applications for change of a child's sex or gender identity under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996,as well as appeals against licensing decisions under the Employment Agents Registration Act 1993. The bill also confers on SACAT certain existing reviews by ministers under the Architectural Practice Act 2009andthe Motor Vehicles Act 1959.

Lastly, the functions of determining equal opportunity complaints and exemption applications under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984that is the jurisdiction at one time exercised by the former equal opportunity tribunal and currently by the South Australian Employment Tribunal—will be transferred to SACAT by the bill. The jurisdiction of the former equal opportunity tribunal had been transferred to the South Australian Employment Tribunal by the former government in 2017.

While many complaints of discrimination are employment related, many are not, including complaints of discrimination in areas such as goods and services, accommodation, education, clubs and associations, sale of land or granting of qualifications. For this reason, the bill will transfer the equal opportunity jurisdiction to SACAT, which is a more appropriate fit for these matters and consistent with arrangements interstate.

However, in circumstances where a discrimination complaint is related to other proceedings on foot in SAET—for example, the discrimination complaint is factually linked to a workers compensation claim—the bill provides the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity or SACAT with the power to refer the discrimination complaint to SAET so that the two proceedings may be heard together by SAET. This will avoid delay and prevent unnecessary double handling. In addition to the amendments to confer additional jurisdiction on SACAT, the bill also addresses a number of anomalies identified in previous conferral acts and makes other changes requested by SACAT to address uncertainty and increase efficiency in legislation used by SACAT.

The bill amends section 93A of the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 to extend the offence of disrupting proceedings to disruption of hearings conducted by telephone or video link. SACAT has advised that merely hanging up in these circumstances does not adequately address the problem.

The bill amends section 22 of the SACAT act to provide that assessors are to be appointed by the Attorney-General on the recommendation of the SACAT president, rather than by the Governor on the recommendation of the Attorney-General, as is the current practice. Currently, ministers appoint assessors for use in District Court proceedings under their particular acts. In light of this, and since acts contemplating the use of assessors generally require panels of multiple assessors to be appointed, the requirement for Governor appointment for each assessor will become overly burdensome.

The bill amends section 90 of the SACAT act, which deals with public access to documents and other material received by SACAT, to address uncertainty in the terminology. References to 'material admitted into evidence' and material 'taken or received in open court' will be replaced since it is not always clear when material falls within these terms due to SACAT's procedural informality.

The arbitrary restriction on access to photographs and video recordings under section 90 will also be removed in favour of permission being required by SACAT to access material of a sensitive nature, regardless of what form the material takes. Photographs are not always sensitive in nature, particularly the many photographs submitted to SACAT in tenancy matters, and SACAT's permission should not always be required to access such photographs. The bill also addresses a number of anomalies in legislation conferring jurisdiction on SACAT.

The bill repeals section 121 of the Residential Parks Act 2007and schedule 1, clause 2 of the Retirement Villages Act 2016, which allows for applications to vary or set aside tribunal orders. This is consequential to the previous repeal of the equivalent provision contained in section 37 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995. Section 37 of the Residential Tenancies Actwas repealed by the Statutes Amendment (SACAT No 2) Act 2017 as well as an equivalent provision contained in the Housing Improvement Act 2016on the recommendation of the Hon. David Bleby QC in his statutory review of SACAT.

This was due to abuse of the provision in circumstances where other provisions in the SACAT act are sufficient for revisiting orders to make non-substantive changes. The provision was being used inappropriately to avoid the need to apply for internal review where there was disagreement with an order made by the tribunal. In repealing those provisions, it was overlooked that the Residential Parks Act and Retirement Villages Actalsocontain the same provision, which will now be repealed for consistency. Finally, in terms of addressing anomalies, the bill amends section 10(3a) of the Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920 to fix a minor drafting error arising from the SACAT No. 2 act.

I commend the bill to the house, and I seek leave to have the explanation of clauses inserted into Hansard without my reading it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave is sought; is leave granted? Leave is not granted. Attorney, you may read it or table it.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: That is alright. I will do neither. It is a document that is usually helpful to the opposition, but as they do not want it I will invite the opposition spokesperson to contact my office to get a copy.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Attorney, the Clerk has suggested to me that then means there is no explanation of clauses.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Correct.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is the situation then and we will leave it at that.