STATUTES AMENDMENT (SPIT HOOD PROHIBITION) BILL

I rise to speak on this bill, as introduced by the Hon. Connie Bonaros MLC in the other place. In 2019, Ms Bonaros introduced a similar bill. That bill amended the same piece of legislation as this new bill; however, it only prohibited the use of spit hoods on persons under 18 years. This bill inserts a prohibition on the use of spit hoods into five pieces of legislation: the Correctional Services Act 1982, the Mental Health Act 2009, the Sherriff's Act 1978, the Summary Offences Act 1953 and the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016.

Since the introduction of the 2019 bill, I am proud to announce that the government has taken steps to prohibit the use of spit hoods and I am pleased to inform the house that spit hoods are no longer in any of the agencies impacted by this bill. We have already achieved this outcome by changes in policy. However, this bill puts beyond doubt our commitment to cease the use of spit hoods.

I should also advise that, since the end of September this year, spit hoods are no longer used in any South Australian prisons, and alternative personal protective equipment is being used to protect Correctional Services staff. In September 2019, I advised the house that we also committed to a ban on the use of spit hoods in the youth justice system and for children detained under the Mental Health Act 2009. This took effect on 1 July 2020.

I am very pleased to indicate the Marshall Liberal government's support of this bill. I place on the record my appreciation of the excellent work of the former Minister for Correctional Services, the Hon. Corey Wingard, and, more recently, the Hon. Vincent Tarzia, and, of course, the Hon. Michelle Lensink, who is the Minister for Human Services and has direct responsibility in relation to youth justice. These are significant reforms. They are being incorporated into statute by this bill. I seek the support of the house that it pass.

Mr ODENWALDER (Elizabeth) (12:03): I rise to speak on behalf of the opposition on the Statutes Amendment (Spit Hood Prohibition) Bill 2020. This bill has been a long time coming. As the Attorney pointed out, the Hon. Connie Bonaros has done an awful lot of work in this area. She first introduced the bill, which essentially prohibited the use of spit hoods on minors, back in 2019. This of course responded to an Ombudsman's report from September that year and followed national reporting—very widespread reporting—on the use of spit hoods in the Northern Territory's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

That bill passed the Legislative Council with the Labor opposition's support, but it did languish here for quite a while before it was finally agreed to. As the Attorney said, that bill did deal with only those under 18—that is, minors—and the use of spit hoods in places where minors are detained. This new bill seeks to ban spit hoods entirely.

It follows not only from the reports into the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre but also from the tragic death of Wayne Fella Morrison in South Australia. Mr Morrison died after being restrained, hooded and then placed in a prison van. The Morrison case triggered some earlier changes to our Coroners Act that were necessary after a group of people who may have had knowledge of the death refused to answer coronial questions for fear of penalty.

In the period between the consideration of the earlier bill and the bill before us, South Australian government departments informed members that they had introduced a range of administrative measures to phase out the use of spit hoods in both adults and minors. The opposition, the shadow attorney-general in the other place and I received submissions from, for instance, SAPOL on their historic use of spit masks and the fact that they did not at the time use anything like spit hoods in their places of detention. Corrections, similarly, were committed to phasing it out and, as the Attorney has just assured the house, they phased them out entirely by September of this year. I understand they were used rarely.

This is a conversation I have had with the Hon. Ms Bonaros for the best part of two years now, since she first raised the matter in her minors bill. She also sought to make some amendments to the corrections amendment bill, quite a comprehensive bill that was brought by the government a year or so ago. She sought to insert amendments, which effectively were the same as this bill, into the corrections act.

At the time, I had some quite detailed consultation with both the PSA, who represent Corrections workers, and the Police Association, who represent police officers. It is fair to say they supported the spirit of this measure, and they certainly supported the spirit of the need to get rid of anything that could be considered inhumane in terms of the treatment of prisoners or detainees.

But there was in the back of their minds a personal protective equipment (PPE) question, and their only caveat to their support for this measure—and I do not want to misrepresent them and I apologise if I am wrong—was that there were measures in place to properly protect workers from spitting, biting, and so on, from prisoners. Regardless of what it was used for in less pleasant circumstances, that is what the equipment is designed to do.

I have had a lot of conversations with the Hon. Ms Bonaros about this matter and I have arrived at the conclusion that spit hoods should be prohibited and that this is a good measure that, as the Attorney says, removes any doubt that these measures are unacceptable in modern places of detention. We also discussed it in relation to the OPCAT bill. Once OPCAT is fully realised in this jurisdiction and across Australia, things like spit hoods will be very much under the spotlight. In that sense, the Hon. Connie Bonaros is ahead of the game in terms of making us OPCAT compliant, as she has been in so many other areas.

In supporting this bill, I want to again acknowledge the work of the Hon. Connie Bonaros. She is sincere in her efforts to make our justice system and our corrections system more humane and more responsive to community expectations in the modern world. More than that, I want to publicly acknowledge, thank and pay tribute to the family of the late Wayne Fella Morrison, in particular Latoya Rule.

The shadow attorney, other MPs on this side of the house and I have had opportunity to talk at length to Ms Rule. It is fair to say that she has turned adversity and tragedy into something positive—into advocacy and something that actually changes the world for people like the late Wayne Fella Morrison. I welcome and acknowledge the time spent with Latoya Rule and discussing these matters subsequently with the shadow attorney-general. I just wanted to put that on the record.

In the end, the bill unanimously passed the upper house. Criminal sanctions were retained. There was some discussion about whether criminal sanctions should be applied or whether there should be a civil sanction. Eventually, the Legislative Council landed on the side of criminal sanctions and I support that conclusion.

It passed the other place on 22 September and came to the House of Assembly on 23 September, in time for the fifth anniversary of Wayne Fella Morrison's death on 25 September. It is unfortunate, therefore, that it has taken so long to arrive at this place today and the government did not take the opportunity to prioritise this legislation in the two, three or four sitting weeks that we have had in the interim.

The parliament is not designed to cater to the interests of individuals, but it was a missed opportunity for the government to take some real action in this area to protect people who might find themselves in detention, and also as a symbolic measure. In part, this is a broad symbolic measure, but it is also very symbolic for the family of Wayne Fella Morrison, who have fought so hard for this change.

After the bill passed in the other place, we were advised that the Attorney-General would take carriage of it and make it a priority, I was advised. The weeks turned into months and here we are on what was scheduled to be the last sitting day of parliament and we find ourselves passing this bill today, with no time to spare.

It is an important change. It is a change that, as I said, was not without controversy, and that is why we had lengthy discussions in the first place with the Hon. Connie Bonaros about the efficacy of such a move or indeed the necessity of such a move. But I do concur with her, with the shadow attorney-general and with the Attorney-General that the measures we are putting in place today leave absolutely no doubt that spit hoods are no longer acceptable in places of detention, including in police stations.

Notwithstanding the delays that I have talked about, Labor does welcome this bill, of course. Parliament is not just about laws. It is about values. It is about showing leadership, it is about showing empathy and it is about showing understanding. I want to apologise to Latoya and the family of Wayne Fella Morrison for how long this bill has taken since the conclusion was come to by all parties, it seems, earlier this year that this was the right path to go down.

I understand they have been watching the parliament closely to see how we move on this and, as I said, it is very symbolic for them. I hope that, today, Latoya and the rest of the Morrison family can take some comfort in the fact that Wayne's death has led to something substantive and something positive and a real change in the way we treat people in detention. I commend the bill.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Planning and Local Government) (12:12): I also wish to acknowledge the opposition's indication of support for this important bill. I understand there is no indication of wanting to go into committee on this bill. We have read with interest and the parliament here has the opportunity to now endorse this bill without further discussion. I commend the bill to the house.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Planning and Local Government) (12:13): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.