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Motion: State Coroner

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. C. Bonaros:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges the retirement of State Coroner Mark Johns in August 2019, after a long and distinguished legal career in private practice and the public sector;

2. Recognises the exemplary service, commitment and dedication to the role of State Coroner that Mark Johns has demonstrated over a period of some 14 years;

3. Expresses its appreciation for the investigations and reports that Mark Johns has completed into often deeply tragic, highly sensitive and disturbing matters, to establish the cause and circumstances of deaths that fall within the events covered by the Coroner’s Act;

4. Applauds the efforts of Mark Johns to provide findings and make recommendations that have contributed to the transparency and accountability necessary to fully harness the preventative function of the Coroner’s Court; and

5. Calls on the government to better resource the Courts Administration Authority for the specific purpose of properly funding the work of the Coroner's Court so that the court can be modernised and staffed at levels appropriate to deal with the increasing and heavy workload carried by this court.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:29): I rise to support this motion and the tabled amendment to the motion. I commend the Hon. Connie Bonaros for taking this moment in this council to reflect upon the work of the State Coroner, Mark Johns, in his retirement. He is, like many members of parliament, somebody who does see the worst of people's lives. It is a difficult job, it is a job that he has done with aplomb, and I think with dignity and respect, particularly for the families and loved ones who lose somebody to bring them to that point where they are before the Coroner's inquest.

I wanted to reflect particularly on Jorge Costello-Riffo today, and sitting in that particular inquest with Pam Gurner-Hall, and pay tribute to Pam and her courage and her dignity for the absolutely senseless loss of Jorge on the worksite of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he should have come home safely that day but did not. I do reflect as well that the Coroner's recommendations, the most simple of recommendations that could have been done in fact right from the time of Jorge's death, that a spotter be employed to ensure the safety of any work done for any worker on an elevated work platform in order to be secure and safe in that job, has still not been implemented and could be implemented quite simply through the government's say-so.

I certainly think that the work the Coroner has done has informed this parliament, and in many ways has been respected by this parliament but should be more formally taken on board as these inquests make their recommendations, and certainly with those few words I commend the motion. I thank the mover for bringing and drawing attention to the fine work of the Coroner. I wish the new Coroner well, and of course the Deputy Coroners, who do such very important work on behalf of our state, day to day, in the most tragic of circumstances.

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