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Norman Waterhouse

Legislative Update: Legislation Interpretation Act 2021

On 1 January 2022, the Legislation Interpretation Act 2021 (SA) (the Interpretation Act) repealed the previous Acts Interpretation Act 1915 (SA). The Interpretation Act updates the approach to the general interpretation of South Australian Acts and legislative instruments and provides greater clarity on the operation of such instruments within the State. This legislative update resulted in beneficial amendments for the local government sector, a number of which have been identified below.

Electronic Meetings

Section 39 of the Interpretation Act provides a general allowance for meetings prescribed by legislation to occur remotely via electronic means, including video conference and telephone.

The Legislation Interpretation Regulations 2021 (SA) exclude prescribed meetings from convening remotely, such as meetings of councils, council committees and subsidiaries of councils, as these are dealt with separately under the Local Government Act 1999 (SA). However, section 39 would enable meetings of a Regional Assessment Panel, Council Assessment Panel or Building Fire Safety Committee to occur remotely.

Entities wishing to take advantage of this medium should update their terms of reference and operating procedures accordingly.


Section 43 of the Interpretation Act provides a number of welcomed changes relating to delegated powers within local government. The Interpretation Act broadens the application for delegations that existed under the Acts Interpretation Act 1915 (SA) previously, now outlining concepts that were already considered best practice for delegations and as already implemented by councils.

Of note, the Interpretation Act now expressly codifies that a delegation made by or to the holder of a particular office does not cease to have effect should the holder of the office no longer remain in that position.

Further, now where a function is delegated, and the scope of the function is later altered by an amendment to an Act or legislation, the delegation is taken to be that of the altered function. This may be a useful tool in circumstances where delegations are not updated following minor or trivial amendments to a legislative power. However, it is still best practice for delegations to be expressly updated consistent with the precise wording of any legislative amendment in a timely manner for risk management purposes.

For more information on how these changes may influence local government operations please contact Gavin Leydon on +61 8 8210 1225 or or Alice Tonkin on +61 8 8217 1372 or


1 February 2022



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