1989 South Australian state election
State elections were held in South Australia on 25 November 1989. All 47 seats in the South Australian House of Assembly were up for election; the incumbent Australian Labor Party led by Premier of South Australia John Bannon defeated the Liberal Party of Australia led by Leader of the Opposition John Olsen. Labor won 22 out of 47 seats, secured a majority of 24 with the support of two Independent Labor members. Parliamentary elections for both houses of the Parliament of South Australia were held in South Australia in 1989, which saw John Bannon and the Australian Labor Party win a third successive term and 11 years in government; the John Olsen-led Liberal Party of Australia failed to win office despite gaining 52 percent of the two-party vote. Bannon's government had presided over an economic boom, but at the time of the election the economy had slowed due to the late 1980s recession; the Liberals' campaign blamed Bannon for the poor economic conditions, capitalising on the fact that he was national president of Australian Labor Party at the time.
The Liberals gained five seats, but Labor held power with of the support of the two "independent Labor" members. It was only the second time that a Labor government in South Australia had been re-elected for a third term, however it would be the first eleven-year-incumbent Labor government. Before the election, the Liberal Party made allegations of a Labor'gerrymander', due to the perceived unfair state of the electoral boundaries. While Labor had not instituted any type of imbalanced electoral legislation, it had nonetheless not issued a redistribution since 1983. So while the electoral districts were equal within the required 10 percent tolerances when they were drawn in 1983, population shifts had increased that imbalance substantially; because of this, a 1991 state referendum made redistributions mandatory by the Electoral Commission of South Australia after each election, included a'fairness clause' where the commission should redraw boundaries with the objective that the party which receives over 50 percent of the statewide two-party vote at the forthcoming election should win the two-party vote in a majority of seats.
Olsen was replaced as Liberal leader by Dale Baker in 1990. Baker resigned as leader in 1992 without contesting an election, the subsequent leadership ballot was won by Dean Brown, ahead of Olsen and Jennifer Cashmore; the parliament had three by-elections, but all were retained by the Liberal party, so resulted in no change in the numbers in parliament. Independent Labor Martyn Evans joined the ALP in 1993 and stood at the 1993 election as an endorsed ALP candidate. In the South Australian Legislative Council, the sole balance of power was held by the Australian Democrats, they had held sole balance of power since 1985, would continue to hold it until 1997. Candidates of the South Australian state election, 1989 Results of the South Australian state election, 1989 Results of the South Australian state election, 1989 Members of the South Australian House of Assembly, 1989-1993 Members of the South Australian Legislative Council, 1989-1993 History of South Australian elections 1857-2006, volume 1: ECSA Historical lower house results Historical upper house results State and federal election results in Australia since 1890 South Australian Elections 1989: Parliament of Australia Research Library paper, including maps
A crossbencher is an independent or minor party member of some legislatures, such as the British House of Lords and the Parliament of Australia. They take their name from the crossbenches and perpendicular to the government and opposition benches, where crossbenchers sit in the chamber. Crossbench members of the British House of Lords are not aligned to any particular party; until 2009, these included the Law Lords appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876. In addition, former Speakers of the House of Commons and former Lord Speakers of the House of Lords, who by convention are not aligned with any party sit as crossbenchers. There are some non-affiliated members of the House of Lords who are not part of the crossbencher group. Although non-affiliated members, members of small parties, sometimes physically sit on the crossbenches, they are not members of the crossbench parliamentary group. An "increasing number" of crossbenchers have been created peers for non-political reasons. Since its establishment in May 2000, the House of Lords Appointments Commission has nominated a total of 67 non-party-political life peers who joined the House of Lords as crossbenchers.
There are 184 crossbenchers, composing 24% of the sitting members in the House of Lords and making them the third largest parliamentary group after the Conservative and Labour parties. From April 2007 to 2009, the number of crossbenchers was higher than the number of Conservatives in the Lords for the first time. Although the Lords Spiritual have no party affiliation, they are not considered crossbenchers and do not sit on the crossbenches, their seats being on the Government side of the Lords Chamber. Parties supporting a minority government in a confidence and supply agreement in the House of Commons, such as the Democratic Unionist Party in the current Parliament, are not considered crossbenchers. Instead, along with all other non-governing parties, they are considered part of the opposition and sit on the opposition benches; the crossbenchers do not take a collective position on issues, so have no whips. The current convenor is David Hope, Baron Hope of Craighead, who took the office in September 2015.
While convenors are not part of the "usual channels", they have been included in their discussions in recent years. The following have served as Convenor of the Crossbenchers: 1968–1974: The Lord Strang 1974–1995: The Baroness Hylton-Foster 1995–1999: The Lord Weatherill 1999–2004: The Lord Craig of Radley 2004–2007: The Lord Williamson of Horton 2007–2011: The Baroness D'Souza 2011–2015: The Lord Laming 2015–present: The Lord Hope of Craighead The term "crossbencher" is not used for the Canadian Parliament or any of the provincial or territorial legislatures. Instead, any party, not the governing party is an opposition party, with the largest of these designated the official opposition. Opposition parties other than the official opposition are called third parties, a term derived from American politics. Third parties and independents sit on the opposition side of the chamber if they are supporting a minority government, unless they are part of a coalition government. Parties require a certain number of seats to have official party status for procedural purposes.
Although parties without official party status behave like political parties, their members are treated as individual members. Third parties have been common in Canadian legislatures since the 1920s. In particular, legislatures contain members of an ideological party, such as a labour-based party or a right-wing party. Beginning in 2016, the Independent Senators Group was formed in the Senate of Canada, fulfilling a similar purpose as crossbenchers; the ISG was created as a response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to appoint more non-partisan Senators. Similar to crossbenchers in the UK, the group has chosen a leader, does not use a whipping system. In December 2016 the Senate began to recognise the group and provide it with funding. Given the relative newness of the group how it operates when compared to crossbenchers in the UK or elsewhere remains to be seen; the term refers to both independent and minor party members in the Federal Parliament of Australia as well as the Parliaments of the Australian states and territories.
Unlike the United Kingdom, in Australia the term is applied to those parties and independents in both the lower and upper houses of parliament, who sit on the crossbench. The last few federal elections have seen an increase in the size and power of the crossbench in both houses of Parliament; the Australian Parliament as elected at the 2010 election was the first hung parliament in the House of Representatives since the election of 1940, with the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition winning 72 seats each of 150 total. Six crossbenchers held the balance of power: Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent MPs Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor declared their support for Labor on confidence and supply, independent MP Bob Katter and National Party of Western Australia MP Tony Crook
Australian Labor Party (South Australian Branch)
The Australian Labor Party known as South Australian Labor, is the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party formed in 1891 as the United Labor Party of South Australia. It is one of two major parties in the bicameral Parliament of South Australia, the other being the Liberal Party of Australia. Since the 1970 election, marking the beginning of democratic proportional representation and ending decades of pro-rural electoral malapportionment known as the Playmander, Labor have won 11 of the 15 elections. Spanning 16 years and 4 terms, Labor was last in government from the 2002 election until the 2018 election. Jay Weatherill led the Labor government since a 2011 leadership change from Mike Rann. During 2013 it became the longest-serving state Labor government in South Australian history, in addition went on to win a fourth four-year term at the 2014 election. Labor's most notable historic Premiers of South Australia include Thomas Price in the 1900s, Don Dunstan in the 1970s and John Bannon in the 1980s.
A United Trades and Labor Council meeting with the purpose of creating an elections committee was convened on 12 December 1890, held on 7 January 1891. The elections committee was formed named the United Labor Party of South Australia with John McPherson the founding secretary. Four months Labor enjoyed immediate success, electing David Charleston, Robert Guthrie and Andrew Kirkpatrick to the South Australian Legislative Council. A week Richard Hooper won the 1891 Wallaroo by-election as an Independent Labor member in the South Australian House of Assembly. McPherson won the 1892 East Adelaide by-election on 23 January, becoming the first official Labor leader and member of the House of Assembly. Prior to party creation, South Australian politics had lacked parties or solid groupings, although loose liberal and conservative blocs had begun to develop by the end of the 1880s; the 1893 election was the first general election Labor would stand at, resulting in liberal and conservative leaning MPs beginning to divide, additionally with unidentified groupings and independents, as well as the subsequent formation of the staunchly anti-Labor National Defence League.
The voluntary turnout rate increased from 53 to 68 percent, with Labor on 19 percent of the vote, 10 Labor candidates including McPherson and Hooper were elected to the 54-member House of Assembly which gave Labor the balance of power. The Kingston liberal government was formed with the support of Labor, ousting the Downer conservative government. Kingston served as Premier for a then-record of six and a half years implementing legislation with Labor support. Thomas Price formed the state's first Labor minority government and the world's first stable Labor Party government at the 1905 election with the support of several non-Labor MPs to form the Price-Peake administration, re-elected at the 1906 double dissolution election, with Labor falling just two seats short of a majority. So successful, John Verran led Labor to form the state's first of many majority governments at the 1910 election, just two weeks after the 1910 federal election where their federal counterparts formed Australia's first elected majority in either house in the Parliament of Australia, the world's first Labor Party majority government at a national level, after the 1904 Chris Watson minority government the world's second Labor Party government at a national level.
Known as the United Labor Party of South Australia until 1917, the Australian Labor Party at both a state/colony and federal level pre-dates, among others, both the British Labour Party and the New Zealand Labour Party in party formation and policy implementation. Thirteen of the nineteen parliamentary Labor leaders have served as Premier of South Australia: Thomas Price, John Verran, Crawford Vaughan, John Gunn, Lionel Hill, Frank Walsh, Don Dunstan, Des Corcoran, John Bannon, Lynn Arnold, Mike Rann and Jay Weatherill. Robert Richards was Premier in 1933 while leading the rebel Parliamentary Labor Party of MPs, expelled in the 1931 Labor split. Bannon is Labor's longest-serving Premier of South Australia, ahead of Rann and Dunstan by a matter of weeks; every Labor leader for more than half a century has gone on to serve as Premier. Since the position's formal introduction in 1968, seven parliamentary Labor deputy leaders have served as Deputy Premier of South Australia: Des Corcoran, Hugh Hudson, Jack Wright, Don Hopgood, Frank Blevins, Kevin Foley and John Rau. Foley is the state's longest-serving Deputy Premier.
John McPherson Lee Batchelor Thomas Price John Verran Crawford Vaughan Andrew Kirkpatrick John Gunn Lionel Hill Edgar Dawes Andrew Lacey Robert Richards Mick O'Halloran Frank Walsh Don Dunstan Des Corcoran John Bannon Lynn Arnold Mike Rann Jay Weatherill Peter Malinauskas Kate Ellis – Adelaide MP since 2004 Mark Butler – Port Adelaide MP since 2007 Nick Champion – Wakefield MP since 2007 Amanda Rishworth – Kingston MP since 2007 Tony Zappia – Makin MP since 2007 Steve Georganas – Hindmarsh MP since 2016 Penn
James Desmond Corcoran AO was an Australian politician, representing the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. He was the 37th Premier of South Australia, serving between 15 February 1979 and 18 September 1979, he served as the 1st Deputy Premier of South Australia in 1968 and again from 1970 to 1979. Born in Millicent, South Australia, Corcoran joined Labor in 1941, he enlisted in the Australian Army and fought in the Korean War, as well as serving in Japan and New Guinea. Corcoran left the Army in 1961 and in 1962 was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly Electoral district of Millicent, succeeding his father, Jim Corcoran. Corcoran impressed many within the Labor Party with his vigorous approach and his talent for administration; when the ALP won government in South Australia in 1965 for the first time in 32 years, Corcoran became Minister of Irrigation, Minister of Lands, Minister of Repatriation. The new Premier, Frank Walsh, made Corcoran his chief political confidant.
Like Walsh, Corcoran was a devout Catholic. In fact, Walsh attempted to groom Corcoran as his successor, hoping to foil the ambitions of Deputy Leader Don Dunstan, whom Walsh resented and distrusted. Following the septuagenarian Walsh's retirement in 1967, Corcoran challenged Dunstan for the leadership, but lost by three votes; as a concession to Corcoran, Dunstan named him Deputy Leader, created the post of Deputy Premier of South Australia for him as well. In Dunstan's 1967-68 Cabinet, Corcoran dropped the Repatriation portfolio in favor of Immigration. Labor lost its majority at the 1968 election due to losing two marginal rural seats. Corcoran himself was nearly defeated in his own seat, winning by just one vote over his LCL rival Martin Cameron. Cameron protested and a by-election was held that year, with Corcoran winning more comfortably, leaving the new Steele Hall LCL government to rely on the casting vote of Independent Speaker Tom Stott. Following the election, Corcoran became Deputy Opposition Leader under Dunstan.
He served as Minister of Public Works and Minister of Marine and Harbours. Over the next nine years and Corcoran made an unconventional but functional team. Corcoran opposed many of the social reforms Dunstan was implementing, such as liberalised abortion and homosexuality laws. In addition, Corcoran disliked Dunstan's glamorous fondness for the arts. A conservative dresser, Corcoran did not at all share Dunstan's enthusiasm for wearing casual clothes on public occasions; the two men felt a wary respect for one another and managed to maintain a working relationship. Behind the scenes, Dunstan sometimes found Corcoran's plain-speaking style useful, in order to control others within the ALP. Meanwhile, Dunstan remained the public face of the Labor government over the next decade; when a redistribution made Millicent notionally Liberal, Corcoran transferred to the Adelaide-area seat of Coles. However, when a redistribution made that seat unwinnable before the 1977 election, Corcoran transferred to nearby Hartley.
By early 1979, Dunstan's health had deteriorated to the point that he could not continue in office, he resigned on 15 February. Corcoran was elected his successor—thus achieving his dream of becoming Premier, he served as Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs. Spurred by positive opinion polls, Corcoran called a snap election two years before it was due in the hope that he would gain a mandate of his own; the election campaign was plagued by problems. At the election, Labor lost to the Liberals under David Tonkin. After the election, Corcoran soon resigned from the Labor leadership and was succeeded by the much younger John Bannon, whose urbane style and academic background brought him much closer to Dunstan than to Corcoran. In 1982 Bannon defeated Tonkin and led Labor back into government. Corcoran did not run in that election. Corcoran died in 2004, aged 75, survived by his wife, their eight children and twelve grandchildren. Doherty, E. Heggen, B. & Pippos, C. "Former premier Corcoran dies", Sunday Mail, p 2, 4 January 2004.
Jory, R. "SA premier put his own mark on office", The Courier-Mail, p. 22, 2 February 2004. Kelton, G. "Pragmatic man of the people not forgotten", The Advertiser, p. 18, 5 January 2004. Parliamentary Profile: SA Parliament website
Parliament of South Australia
The Parliament of South Australia at Parliament House, Adelaide is the bicameral legislature of the Australian state of South Australia. It consists of the 47-seat House of the 22-seat Legislative Council. All of the lower house and half of the upper house is filled at each election, it follows a Westminster system of parliamentary government. The Queen is represented in the State by the Governor of South Australia. According to the South Australian Constitution, unlike the Federal Parliament, the parliaments of the other states and territories of Australia, neither the Sovereign or the Governor is considered to be a part of the South Australian Parliament. However, the same role and powers are granted to them; the Parliament of South Australia began in 1857. Women gained the right to stand for election in 1895, taking effect at the 1896 election. South Australia became a state of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 following a vote to Federate with the other British colonies of Australia. Elections were held every 3 years until 1985, when the parliament switched to 4 year terms, meaning 8 year terms for the upper house.
Beginning in 2006, election dates have been fixed at the third Saturday in March of every fourth year. The House of Assembly is made up of 47 members who are each elected by the full-preference instant-runoff voting system in single-member electorates; each of the 47 electoral districts contains the same number of voters. Since 1975, the distribution of electoral boundaries has been set by the South Australian Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission. Since 1991, boundaries have been redistributed after each election by the Electoral Commission of South Australia, an independent body, they were redistributed after every third election. Government is formed in the House of Assembly by the leader of the party or coalition who can demonstrate they have the support of the majority of the House, is called upon by the Governor to form government; the leader of the government becomes the Premier. While South Australia's total population is 1.7 million, Adelaide's population is 1.3 million − uniquely, over 75 percent of the state's population resides in the metropolitan area and has 72 percent of seats alongside a lack of comparatively-sized rural population centres, therefore the metropolitan area tends to decide election outcomes.
At the 2014 election for example, although the statewide two-party vote was 47.0% Labor v 53.0% Liberal, the metropolitan area recorded a 2PP of 51.5% Labor v 48.5% Liberal. The Legislative Council is made up of 22 councillors who are elected for the entire state by the Proportional Representation single transferable voting system to serve for a term of 8 years. Elections for the Legislative Council are staggered so that 11 seats are up for re-election every 4 years, at the same time as House of Assembly elections; the primary function of the Legislative Council is to review legislation, passed by the House of Assembly. This can cause tensions between the government and the Legislative Council, which may be viewed by the former as obstructionist if it rejects key legislation, as can happen at times when the electoral makeup of the two houses are different; the seat of the Parliament of South Australia is Parliament House in the state capital of Adelaide. Parliament House sits on the North-Western corner of the intersection of King William Street and North Terrace.
South Australian state election, 2018 List of elections in South Australia Parliaments of the Australian states and territories Official openings by the monarch in Australia Parliament of South Australia Homepage
South Australia is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres, it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, fifth largest by population, it has a total of 1.7 million people, its population is the second most centralised in Australia, after Western Australia, with more than 77 percent of South Australians living in the capital, Adelaide, or its environs. Other population centres in the state are small. South Australia shares borders with all of the other mainland states, with the Northern Territory; the state comprises less than 8 percent of the Australian population and ranks fifth in population among the six states and two territories. The majority of its people reside in greater Metropolitan Adelaide. Most of the remainder are settled in fertile areas along River Murray; the state's colonial origins are unique in Australia as a settled, planned British province, rather than as a convict settlement.
Colonial government commenced on 28 December 1836, when the members of the council were sworn in near the Old Gum Tree. As with the rest of the continent, the region had been long occupied by Aboriginal peoples, who were organised into numerous tribes and languages; the South Australian Company established a temporary settlement at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, on 26 July 1836, five months before Adelaide was founded. The guiding principle behind settlement was that of systematic colonisation, a theory espoused by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, employed by the New Zealand Company; the goal was to establish the province as a centre of civilisation for free immigrants, promising civil liberties and religious tolerance. Although its history is marked by economic hardship, South Australia has remained politically innovative and culturally vibrant. Today, it is known for numerous cultural festivals; the state's economy is dominated by the agricultural and mining industries. Evidence of human activity in South Australia dates back as far as 20,000 years, with flint mining activity and rock art in the Koonalda Cave on the Nullarbor Plain.
In addition wooden spears and tools were made in an area now covered in peat bog in the South East. Kangaroo Island was inhabited; the first recorded European sighting of the South Australian coast was in 1627 when the Dutch ship the Gulden Zeepaert, captained by François Thijssen and mapped a section of the coastline as far east as the Nuyts Archipelago. Thijssen named the whole of the country eastward of the Leeuwin "Nuyts Land", after a distinguished passenger on board; the coastline of South Australia was first mapped by Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin in 1802, excepting the inlet named the Port Adelaide River, first discovered in 1831 by Captain Collet Barker and accurately charted in 1836–37 by Colonel William Light, leader of the South Australian Colonization Commissioners"First Expedition' and first Surveyor-General of South Australia. The land which now forms the state of South Australia was claimed for Britain in 1788 as part of the colony of New South Wales. Although the new colony included two-thirds of the continent, early settlements were all on the eastern coast and only a few intrepid explorers ventured this far west.
It took more than forty years before any serious proposal to establish settlements in the south-western portion of New South Wales were put forward. On 15 August 1834, the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act 1834, which empowered His Majesty to erect and establish a province or provinces in southern Australia; the act stated that the land between 132° and 141° east longitude and from 26° south latitude to the southern ocean would be allotted to the colony, it would be convict-free. In contrast to the rest of Australia, terra nullius did not apply to the new province; the Letters Patent, which used the enabling provisions of the South Australia Act 1834 to fix the boundaries of the Province of South Australia, provided that "nothing in those our Letters Patent shall affect or be construed to affect the rights of any Aboriginal Natives of the said Province to the actual occupation and enjoyment in their own Persons or in the Persons of their Descendants of any Lands therein now occupied or enjoyed by such Natives."
Although the patent guaranteed land rights under force of law for the indigenous inhabitants it was ignored by the South Australian Company authorities and squatters. Survey was required before settlement of the province, the Colonization Commissioners for South Australia appointed William Light as the leader of its'First Expedition', tasked with examining 1500 miles of the South Australian coastline and selecting the best site for the capital, with planning and surveying the site of the city into one-acre Town Sections and its surrounds into 134-acre Country Sections. Eager to commence the establishment of their whale and seal fisheries, the South Australian Company sought, obtained, the Commissioners' permission to send Company ships to South Australia, in advance of the surveys and ahead of the Commissioners' colonists; the Company's settlement of seven vessels and 636 people was temporarily made at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, until
Michael John Atkinson, a former Australian politician in the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, was a member of the Parliament of South Australia from 1989 to 2018. Atkinson was the 34th Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly in the Jay Weatherill government from 2013 to 2018. Before this post, he was the 46th Attorney-General of South Australia, Minister for Justice, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Mike Rann Labor Government. A day after the 2010 election, he resigned from the Cabinet. Atkinson represented the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Croydon from the seat's creation in 2002 until 2018, Spence from 1989 until the seat was abolished and replaced by Croydon in 2002, he was a member of the Australian Journalists Association whilst working for the Adelaide Advertiser. He is a member of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Atkinson attended Unley High School, he studied at the Australian National University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Bachelor of Laws degree.
He worked as a sub-editor and journalist for the Adelaide Advertiser from 1982 to 1985, an adviser and press secretary to federal minister Chris Hurford from 1985 to 1987, before becoming an advocate for the Shop and Allied Employees Association in 1989. A founding member of the Labor Right faction, Atkinson was first elected to Parliament at the 1989 election. Following the 1993 election, he was shadow minister in a range of portfolios until Labor won government at the 2002 election, he subsequently became Attorney-General, Minister for Justice, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Rann cabinet. In a minor cabinet reshuffle in 2004, Atkinson lost his portfolio of Consumer Affairs, he became Minister for Correctional Services in 2006. He was re-elected at the 2006 election landslide in his seat of Croydon with a 76 percent two-party vote from a 6.9 percent two-party swing toward him. At the 2010 election Atkinson was again re-elected, but with a 12 percent two-party swing against him higher than the statewide 8.4 percent two-party swing.
Following his re-election, he announced he would resign from the Rann ministry but remain on the backbench. Atkinson was re-elected at the 2014 election where he picked up a 3.5 percent two-party swing toward him. On 5 February 2013 Atkinson replaced Lyn Breuer as Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly. In September 2016, Peter Malinauskas into Atkinson's electorate of Croydon, he said of Atkinson: "Mick knows the movements of every single one of his constituents – I suspect I’m no exception.”Atkinson announced in February 2017 that he would be retiring from parliament as of the 2018 election. Atkinson has blocked attempts to introduce a R18+ for video games in Australia. In a letter on the subject, Atkinson stated, "I don't support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages."He withdrew his support for a discussion paper released for public consultation on the subject of an "R18+" rating.
Unanimity from Atkinson and his fellow state and federal Attorneys-General is required for the introduction of the rating. Australia's rating system lacked a classification for games above MA15+ at the time, it therefore lacked not only an equivalent rating to the ESRB's AO rating but an equivalent to its Mature rating. In 2009, Atkinson, in his role as attorney-general of South Australia, introduced laws into parliament that made internet commentary on the upcoming 2010 election illegal unless the commenter provided their real name and postcode; the laws were passed, came into effect on 6 January 2010. Following public criticism, Atkinson promised to repeal the section following the 2010 South Australian election and indicated it would not be enforced during the electoral period. In 2008, Atkinson introduced legislation aimed at increasing the rights of victims of crime; the legislation purported to allow victims to suggest a suitable sentence for the offender and made it compulsory for judges to consider imposing a restraining order on convicted sex offenders.
Since accepting his role as speaker, Atkinson has used his casting vote in Parliament to oppose several bills presented during the Weatherill government. These include a bill which would have allowed transgender people to have their gender changed on their birth certificates and another bill intended to enable voluntary euthanasia. Atkinson is separated from his wife, with whom he has three sons and a daughter. Atkinson's long-term and current de facto partner is fellow state Labor MP Jennifer Rankine. Atkinson is a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion, was its chancellor. Parliamentary Profile: SA Parliament website Parliamentary Profile: SA Labor website