YATALA LABOUR PRISON INCIDENT (S2)

legislative council
Wednesday 2nd of November 2016

Question Time

Yatala Labour Prison Incident

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 14:32 :26 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Correctional Services on the recent death in custody of Mr Wayne 'Fella' Morrison in Yatala Labour Prison and the RAH.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The minister recently informed this place that he was open to offers from the family of Mr Wayne 'Fella' Morrison to meet with them. I understand from Latoya Rule and my meeting with her that the family has made that meeting with the minister conditional on the release of CCTV footage from the time of the incident or two incidents. Can the minister confirm whether this is indeed the case, and can the minister confirm whether he will be meeting with Mr Morrison's family and releasing that CCTV footage to them?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 14:33 :23 ): I thank the Hon. Ms Franks for her question. I can advise the chamber that on multiple occasions my office has made attempts to get in contact with the family of the deceased through a desire to be able to meet with them and hear their concerns that they may have or indeed to answer any questions they may have regarding the process following Mr Morrison's passing.

I am able to confirm that I have received a request from a member of the deceased's family for access to CCTV footage that may exist. I am not in a position to be able to provide details regarding that CCTV footage because, of course, it is subject to an ongoing and active investigation by the South Australian police force, more specifically an investigation that is being conducted by Major Crime of SAPOL, and naturally my office is not privy to particular CCTV footage that is subject to a police investigation.

Since receiving the most recent contact from the deceased's family, my office has been proactively trying to arrange a meeting. I am very keen to meet with the deceased's family should they want to, and I am actively trying to arrange it, as discussed. In fact, very soon after the passing of Mr Morrison, my office had been making it clear, through Mr Morrison's family's legal representatives (the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement) that I am very keen to meet the family, but as yet they have not taken my office up on that offer. They have recently re-established contact. Again, I have made it very clear that I am happy to meet with them and make it a priority to ensure that we can find a time that is mutually convenient.

Regarding questions of evidence that may or may not be relevant in an ongoing active police investigation, that clearly goes beyond my remit. As I said, SAPOL are conducting an investigation. They are also in the process of preparing a report for the Coroner. In due course, I would hope that through that process, information that is able to become publicly available does so because I suspect that process would be revealing, which is of course what we want. I have been keen from the outset for nothing more than utter transparency to take place here. Naturally, due process has to take its course, and when there is a police investigation underway, I for one have no intention of seeking to intervene or do anything that would prejudice that important investigation in any way.

legislative council
Wednesday 2nd of November 2016

Question Time

Supplementary

Yatala Labour Prison Incident

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 14:36 :31 ): Can the minister confirm that the family's request to receive that CCTV footage has been formally denied?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 14:36 :43 ): No, I can't.

 

legislative council
Wednesday 2nd of November 2016

Question Time

Yatala Labour Prison Incident (2)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:21 :39 ): My question is to the Minister for Correctional Services on the topic of calls for an independent inquiry into the recent death in custody. As the acting minister for Aboriginal affairs, did the Minister for Correctional Services find that he was in a conflict of interest when vetting the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement's press release on this issue, and does the minister have any explanation as to why that press release took some days to make it through that vetting process?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:22 :17 ): I am not aware of vetting any particular press release and I don't believe there were any issues around conflict of interest when I was acting in the capacity of Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In any event, I was in contact with the full-time Minister for Aboriginal Affairs during the course of the event.

Regarding calls for an independent inquiry, I want to be very clear about this: we have one, and it is called the Coroner's inquiry. I don't think there would be anyone in the Department for Correctional Services, I don't think there would be anyone within police and I don't think there would be anyone in the community, who pays any attention to the way the Coroner operates in this state, who would suggest anything apart from the fact that the Coroner is utterly independent. I think the Coroner in South Australia has done an outstanding job in making sure that his office is not just acting independently but is also seen to be acting independently.

I have every confidence that the Coroner will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and will be able to determine the cause of death. I have to say that is an exercise that I am genuinely looking forward to, because if there is a necessary policy response out of the incident that led up to or occurred in and around the passing of Mr Morrison, I want to know about it. The best way to find out about that is through an independent inquiry, and that is exactly what the Coroner will do.

 

legislative council
Wednesday 2nd of November 2016

Question Time

Supplementary

Yatala Labour Prison Incident (2)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:23 :55 ): Supplementary: does the minister therefore infer that the ALRM is an organisation of no substance or consequence, which has called for an independent inquiry—as has the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement—independent of the coronial process?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:24 :15 ): I am conscious of the fact that there have been some calls for an independent inquiry, and I think that the best way to respond to an independent inquiry from my perspective is to ensure that one is taking place. I know for a fact that an independent inquiry is taking place because that is what the Coroner is—an utterly independent body.

There is nobody within the Department of Correctional Services, SAPOL or anybody else who has paid attention to the way the Coroner operates who thinks for a second that the Coroner is not going to be acting utterly independently. I have total confidence in the Coroner of South Australia being independent, fulfilling his mandate for thoroughly establishing the cause of death. I have a lot of respect for the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and their questions and queries, but they should have confidence that an independent inquiry is taking place.

That said, another form of independent inquiry is taking place and that is being conducted by SAPOL. South Australian police are totally independent from the Department for Correctional Services. Let me give you a hot tip: they are utterly separate from each other. SAPOL of course is conducting its own inquires and one of the most elite units within SAPOL, in the form of Major Crime, is conducting it. I am very confident that what we will have, once all these investigations and inquiries have concluded, is the knowledge about exactly what took place regarding Mr Morrison.

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