Magistrates Court (Small Claims Jurisdiction) Amendment Bill


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (11:07): I will be quite brief on this. I rise to support the member for Norwood, the very hard-working and very capable member for Norwood. It is a tremendous initiative. Previous members have spoken extremely well about his proposal, so I will not go over all that. What I would like to do is to highlight how important this proposal would be for rural and regional people in South Australia who very often only have access to a magistrates court without travelling to Adelaide.

Unfortunately, not every area is covered by magistrates courts or permanent sitting magistrates. I understand that the member for Frome is actively trying to get a permanently sitting magistrate in Port Pirie, and I think that is tremendous. In Port Augusta we are fortunate to have two of them. However, raising this limit from $6,000 to $25,000 would give rural and regional—

The Hon. M.J. Atkinson interjecting:

Mr PENGILLY: Point of order, ma'am.

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mr PENGILLY: I have the member for Stuart sitting right behind me, and I cannot hear him for the inane rantings of the member for Croydon.

The SPEAKER: I uphold that point of order. Member for Croydon, you are warned.

Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Raising the threshold from $6,000 to $25,000 would then give far greater access to rural and regional people to the justice that we would all want them to have. I also would just like to support comments that have been made that, given the debate we have had over the last couple of days about a small business commissioner, this would be a very easy and very straightforward way of supporting small business, and we in the Liberal opposition always do everything we can to do that.

I would also like to highlight something that a few people may have missed in the member for Norwood's proposal, that is, that the $25,000 threshold he puts forward would be indexed with CPI, with inflation. I just say that, if the $6,000 threshold that was put in place 20 years ago had been indexed by just 2½ per cent, annual inflation would now be marginally under $10,000. The original $6,000 intention today would be nearly $10,000. So, if the government tries to water down the member for Norwood's proposal below the $25,000 suggestion, if it is not above $10,000 they have not achieved a thing. I commend this to the house.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mrs Geraghty.


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