Summary Offences (Disrespectful Conduct in Court) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 2 August 2018.)

I wish to thank members for their contributions to this debate, in particular the members for Heysen and Kavel, and the member for Kaurna on behalf of the opposition. He presented an indication of their view on this matter, although I was not entirely sure whether or not they intend to formally oppose the bill.

Mr Picton: We are not opposing.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Thank you. Clarification is sought for some matters. Can I refer to one matter that had been raised—and I am happy to go into committee. The Chief Justice very kindly forwarded to me a copy of the Explanatory Note on the Judicial Process and Participation of Muslims prepared by the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC). It is a very interesting document.

One of the things that I thought I should bring to the attention of the parliament, on the basis of it having been raised in the media coverage of the bill and some commentary made, is how this might target or apply to people from the Muslim community. Under chapter 3 on page 4 of the material, this document confirms that there is no prohibition under Sharia law to facilitate standing up for a magistrate or a judge in court protocols, bowing to a magistrate or judge, or, under the dress code on page 6, providing for a female witness to remove her hijab or burqa. In those three instances, there is no prohibition under Sharia law to facilitate that to occur.

In other words, there is no impediment to someone of the Muslim faith committed to other religious commitments that says they cannot stand, bow or remove their headdress for the purpose of identification. In fact, the document goes on to point out the significance of insisting that there can be no-one accused or evidence be given against a woman under their practices that would impede them from any court process. I thought it was important that I let the parliament know. I thank the Chief Justice for making the provision.

The other matter that has come to my attention is that, although there has not been a glowing response from those consulted to support the need for having this legislation, one of the things that the judge of the Youth Court questioned in her contribution to us—after agreeing that this law should not apply to youths who come before her in relation to criminal matter—is why care and protection cases that come before her should not have the application of this law, because often the parties in that regard are parents versus some government agency and can get highly distressed and emotional and exhibit difficult behaviours. She has sought some indication as to why those cases should be excluded from the application of this law.

These are all matters of interest which I hope will assist in the consideration of this matter. I am aware that a number of questions were raised by the opposition in briefings on this matter, and I have sought responses in relation to a number of them, if they have not been adequately outlined in the briefings provided. Accordingly, I ask that the matter now go into committee.