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Constitution (Electoral Redistribution) (Appeals) Amendment Bill

Received from the House of Assembly and read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN (16:51): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill has come from the House of Assembly and it is a technical amendment to the constitution and involves the Electoral District Boundaries Commission ruling and the subsequent finding of the Supreme Court that the ruling of the Boundaries Commission stood. The bill was moved through the House of Assembly by the shadow attorney, the member for Bragg, in the other place.

The effect of the bill is to amend section 86, which enables a registered political party, or any other person with an interest in electoral redistribution, to be the appellant to a decision of the Electoral District Boundaries Commission.

At present, section 86(2) of the Constitution Act provides that only an elector (that is a person registered on the electoral roll) may appeal to the Full Court of the Supreme Court against any order of the commission. The only ground is that the order has not been duly made in accordance with the act. Members will be aware that on 10 March 2017 the Full Court of the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Martin v Electoral District Boundaries Commission [2017] SA Supreme Court Full Court 18, and all five judges sat.

During the course of the hearing and the delivery of the judgement, the Chief Justice pointed out that the current law requires the appellant to be an elector; hence we have Mr Reggie Martin as the applicant and Ms Sascha Meldrum from the Liberal Party as the second respondent in the course of the proceedings. His Honour pointed out that the current law produces the result that the elector is a member of a political party which made the representations to the EDBC but who did not personally appear before it. His Honour noted:

Parliament may wish to consider whether a registered political party, or any other person with an interest in an electoral redistribution, particularly if that party or person has made representations to the EDBC, should be entitled to bring an appeal against an order of the EDBC. It may also be prudent to allow the Court a power to preclude a political party from appearing on appeal through a proxy if that party made representations before the EDBC. As a practical consideration, Parliament may also wish to contemplate prescribing a procedure for the giving of public notice that an appeal has been instituted and of the right of persons to be joined.

This bill seeks to act on the advice of the Chief Justice in that hearing and the fact that it has found its way here from the hands of the shadow attorney must, by very implication, have passed the rigorous examination of the Attorney-General in the other place. I commend the bill to the members.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. K.J. Maher.

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