Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2017 [Final Stages]

Ms SANDERSON: I welcome this bill coming to its final position and I indicate that the Liberal opposition will be supporting the bill. I would like to thank the stakeholders who spent many hours and weeks of hard work putting together their thoughts and meeting with my colleagues and me. We submitted over 100 amendments in the lower house, many of which were successful, and there were around 70 amendments submitted in the upper house, many of which were also successful. The government did not really accept them, but I thank the crossbenchers for accepting most of those in the upper house and for their understanding of this very complex and very important issue.

I would particularly like to thank the hard work of the Law Society of South Australia, the Australian Medical Association, the South Australian Council of Social Service, the Child and Family Welfare Association of South Australia, the Council for the Care of Children, Youth Affairs Council of SA, the Child Protection Reform Movement, and Connecting Foster Carers who have spent many hours deeply involved with this piece of legislation. It has been ongoing for quite some months. It is an important piece of legislation, so it was worth testing and trying to make as many amendments as was possible.

Although the opposition did feel, and still feels, very strongly that the best interests of the child should be the paramount consideration, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and also in line with the majority of stakeholders' views, I note that it was lost by one vote. It was very close. It was a good debate and lots of points of view were put across, but we are in opposition and we have to accept these things.

I was particularly disappointed that the guardianship will now be going to the CE, an appointed and salaried staff member, rather than to the minister. I believe in the Westminster system in that the minister has the ultimate responsibility, and I believe it should be under the minister's guardianship. Should I be so fortunate as to be the minister I would be very disappointed that they would not be under my guardianship.

However, we have come to a position on the bill. I call on the government to urgently bring before parliament the amended Families and Community Services Act outlining its early intervention and prevention initiatives, as was promised to the stakeholder group. That does form a very important part of the prevention and intervention. The bill we have now is really at the critical end where the child is removed, but we have too many children being removed and more work needs to be done with the families to stop the children being removed and allowing them to stay safely with their families. I indicate that the opposition will be supporting the bill as is.