Question

Legislative Council

QUESTION: Outsourcing of Legal Work

May 17th, 2017

On the 17th of May 2017, Mark asked the Minister for Police, Correctional Services, Emergency Services and Road Safety, questions regarding the outsourcing of legal work to private lawyers.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Members may have seen the article in InDaily today that reveals that prosecution over the 2014 death of new Royal Adelaide Hospital construction worker Jorge Castillo-Riffo was handed to private lawyers because the Crown Solicitor's Office could not put the case together quickly enough. The article suggests that outsourcing of government legal work to private practitioners rather than using the services of the Crown Solicitor's Office is widespread amongst different government departments.

As well as the abandoned SafeWork prosecution I referred to, other examples are offered, including the investigation of employees at the disgraced Oakden older persons mental health facility, which was also outsourced. There are strict controls on the ability of ministers or departments to obtain legal services from outside the Crown Solicitor's Office. These controls include obtaining the advice and certification of the Crown Solicitor that outsourcing is appropriate. My questions of the minister (I accept he will need to take some of them on notice) are:

1. Has the minister, or any of his departments, outsourced any legal work to private lawyers rather than using the Crown Solicitor's Office in the last 12 months?

2. If so, what types of cases are these and why could they not be done by the Crown Solicitor's Office?

3. Is the minister satisfied with the service that he and his departments receive from the 185 lawyers and 60 support staff employed in the Crown Solicitor's Office?
 
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS  (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): Maybe I will start with the last part of the honourable member's question. Yes, of course, and I suspect that other ministers are in a similar position of wanting to ensure that we reasonably uphold our duties and responsibilities as ministers of the Crown by regularly seeking advice from the Crown Solicitor's Office. Certainly, that has occurred in the time that I have been minister, and I have been nothing but completely satisfied and indeed very grateful for the hard work that the Crown Solicitor's Office does, sometimes under pressing time lines. I am very grateful for the work they have done for my office and for me up until this point.

Regarding policies that exist in and around times when it is appropriate for other sources of legal providers to be doing work for the state, that is a question that pertains to the responsibilities of the Attorney-General. I am more than happy to take those questions on notice and seek an appropriate response from him in due course.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL:  Supplementary: I thank the minister for his response. He is partly correct, but my question related to the minister's own departments, each of which is entitled to seek external legal advice, provided they follow the protocols. The protocols are set out in Treasurer's Instruction No. 10, which is easily obtainable. My question for the minister to take on notice is: have his departments been outsourcing legal work and, if so, what types of cases?
 
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS  (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I am happy to take that question on notice. From memory, I can think of more than one occasion when my office, as the minister's office, has sought advice from the Crown. I can also recall conversations and instances where I have asked my respective departments to seek advice from the Crown to inform different decisions that are made by them and, indeed, to inform decisions made by my office. I am more than happy to take on notice the question regarding whether or not any of those agencies have sought advice in their own right from outside legal providers.

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