I think no one will demur if I say that Government House, as the official residence of the representative of the Crown in South Australia, is a suitably meaningful place to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the South Australian Law Reform Institute – if delayed due to pandemic restrictions.
As South Australians we are proud that the foundations of our State were based on the ideals of social and democratic freedoms.
The law and the legal system play a vital role in ensuring those ideals are nurtured and remain relevant and responsive to today’s society.
After all, our very foundation lies in an Act of law - the passing by the British Parliament of the South Australia Act.
Law reform is one of the significant and basic ways in which an on-going conversation can continue between our law makers, the justice system and the citizens they serve.
The earlier NSW and Commonwealth Law Reform Commissions attest to that.
There are many examples, known well to you I am sure, of how a long tradition of innovative law reform has transformed South Australia.
This doesn’t happen by chance. It relies on a society that is committed to equality and fairness and one that actively participates in forming the very laws that affect us all.
To that end, the South Australian Law Reform Institute has played a valuable role during its 11 years of operation in researching, consulting, and recommending reforms; many of which have become law and shaped our community.
- Removal of legislative discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, intersex status or gender, including the legal registration of sex and gender, equal recognition of relationships and access to existing laws relating to parentage;
- Changes to criminal law defences to better reflect the situation of victims of family violence;
- A Relationships Register;
- Abortion law reform that has especially benefitted people in regional and remote communities;
- Abolition of the outdated homosexual advance defence and the wider defence of provocation to murder;
- An improved legal framework for surrogacy in South Australia; and
- Evidence law to deal with new technologies.
There are many whose have contributed to the work of SALRI:
- Professor Kate Warner, later Governor of Tasmania, who founded the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) on which SALRI is modelled
- The then Attorney-General, The Hon John Rau, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide and the President of the Law Society of South Australia who signed the Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Institute.
- And the professors, students and others who have provided their skills and experience.
Together this collaboration of the government, university and law society has contributed to improving the lives of South Australians and reflect the needs of modern society.
Again, congratulations on the South Australian Law Reform Institute’s milestone.
May you continue well into the future your vital role in reviewing, researching and recommending reform.
Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC
GOVERNOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA