Parliament of Tasmania
Presented to both Houses of Parliament pursuant to Section 11 of the Solicitor-General Act 1983
The year under report presents some remarkable similarities to the one which preceded it. My senior professional assistant was again absent for some time assisting with the "Gilewicz" Inquiry; the number of advisings provided has been almost identical to the previous year, equally spread across the panoply of government activity; and their provision in a comprehensive and timely manner continues to reflect the quality of the small but very competent staffing complement which I have for support.
With the appointment of a permanent Crown Solicitor, I have been able to devote my time entirely to the functions of this office, which has enabled both me and my officers to become more actively involved in presentations to Agencies and instrumentalities on legal issues which concern them. I plan to continue to develop this aspect of the functions of the office, as I have no doubt that enlivenment of senior officers in government Agencies and enterprises to the legal issues which regularly confront them is a positive and effective way of limiting the Crown’s exposure to risk whilst at the same time improving the quality of service they provide.
Day-to-day administrative issues have once again been capably attended to by the Manager of Crown Law, Tracey Rodgers, and her strong support for increased utilisation of the many opportunities which electronic technology offers has improved and will continue to enhance the speed and accuracy with which the heavy demands placed upon the office can be properly addressed.
The functions of the office were discharged within budget, helped to some extent by our lack of involvement in High Court matters during the reporting period.
The attached schedule sets out in the usual form the number and spread of advisings for the year. The general spread of advisings closely mirrored that of previous years, with the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment placing by far the greatest demands upon my time. Water management and environmental issues accounted for a substantial portion of this demand.
There were no proceedings in the High Court last year in which Tasmania was a party which gave rise to constitutional issues. There was once again a very large number of Notices given under S.78B of the Judiciary Act, but none of them gave rise to separate intervention by Tasmania as I was satisfied that, in those matters which might be seen as potentially impacting upon this State, any argument that we might have put was being adequately advanced by others in the proceedings.
Once again, this Office has provided counsel to prepare and appear in a variety of litigious and quasi-litigious matters on instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions and in one matter arising under the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of child abduction. In the latter class of proceeding, we appear, by standing arrangement, on instructions from the Commonwealth.
This Committee met as required to address matters referred for its consideration by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and to deal with other issues raised for its consideration. The Committee interacts with and reports to SCAG in relation to its activities. Its meeting in April of this year was held in Hobart. Early in the year it finalised its advice to SCAG in relation to resolving the legal problems thrown up by the High Court decisions in Wakim and Hughes, and there has subsequently been a referral of State power to the Commonwealth and consequent Commonwealth legislation which should mean that these issues have been resolved. It is inappropriate that I should discuss in this Report either the other issues referred by SCAG for the Committee’s consideration or the Committee’s responses.
I am confident that the Office is continuing to provide quality professional advice in a timely and efficient manner, which it is now supplementing with more frequent legal information presentations to State Agencies and instrumentalities. In each case the strong emphasis is upon preventing legal error from occurring as a far more satisfactory, satisfying and economical exercise than resolving error which has occurred.
WCR BALE QC
agencies (including Statutory Authorities) Number Provided
Health and Human Services 113
Infrastructure, Energy and Resources 85
Justice and Industrial Relations 146
Police and Public Safety 16
Premier and Cabinet 61
Primary Industries, Water and Environment 417
Retirement Benefits Fund Board 3
State Development 29
Treasury and Finance 69
Other bodies and offices 128
Section 78b Notices 274