More contempt of the public

The Law Society of South Australia on 16 June of this year observed:

“Government seeks to deny successful defendants prosecution costs”

Under the guise of what is perceived to be a significant cost impost to the South Australian police, the State Government has as part of its Budget legislation introduced a Bill into the Parliament in which it seeks to deny a defendant who has successfully defended a police prosecution in the Magistrates Court, their costs.

As the Law currently stands, he magistrate has a discretion to award costs in favour of a successful party and the ordinary principle is that if a defendant successfully defends a police prosecution they are like to be awarded their costs. This has resulted in an estimated $2.8m being awarded this financial year. This is despite SAPOL recording a successful conviction rate of 82.5%.

Amongother things the Law Society President, Ralph Bönig observed that:

To deny a successful party their costs goes against all ordinary principles of Justice.

I heard some of this a little after noon on ABC Local Radio (891 Adelaide). The ABC website says nothing. Apparently a bill to this effect properly condemned by the Law Society will enter the Legislative Council this afternoon.

The Advertiser reports the likely defeat of the bill. Opposition justice spokesman Stephen Wade  remarked:

“Parliamentary advice to the Opposition is that it is not a money clause and therefore the Legislative Council will be able to actually amend the Bill rather than just suggest an amendment,” Mr Wade said. “It has an impact on the Budget (but) the amendment is not a money clause.”

Two comments on the report express bitter contempt for those responsible. Remarkably the idea seems to have originated with the Police:

Following a submission from the SA Police last year, the Government agreed to introduce legislation which would restrict magistrates from awarding legal costs to people who successfully defended a police charge.

Furthermore, how the commenters found the article they don’t say. I only found it after a search using Google News (type Law Society of South Australia).

Still developments like this somehow dovetail nicely with the federal government’s endeavours to restrict radically the value the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. In its carelessness it has a parallel with the same government’s extraordinary train-wreck of live beef exports to Indonesia. Just by the by, have you noticed how the oft-spoken parallels of the Labor government in Canberra with the Whitlam government have disappeared. Rann and co. have few local parallels, perhaps interstate: remember Joan Kirner?

The predilections of both governments are becoming truly serious. I see no reason to doubt about the underlying but increasingly visible totalitarian instincts of both governments.




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