Mick Atkinson was elected to the Parliament of South Australia on 25 November 1989.
Mick worked as a sub-editor and journalist for the Adelaide Advertiser between 1982 and 1985, then as an adviser to Federal Minister Chris Hurford, then as an advocate for the Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Association.
Mick graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), majoring in history, and a Bachelor of Laws from the Australian National University after being educated at Glenelg Primary School and Unley High School.
Mick was appointed to the Ministry after Labor formed Government in 2002 and held the portfolios of Attorney-General, Minister for Justice, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Veterans' Affairs until his retirement from the front bench after the 2010 re-election of the Rann Labor Government.
Before joining Cabinet in 2002, Michael was Labor’s spokesman for Attorney-General, Justice and Multicultural Affairs, and served on parliamentary committees that investigated HIV/AIDS, gambling, prostitution, euthanasia and retail leasing. He also authored a bill to allow victims of serious crime to read their victim impact statement to the court, before the court sentenced the offender.
As the Member for Croydon (formerly Spence) representing the suburbs of Allenby Gardens, Beverley, Bowden, Brompton, Croydon, Croydon Park, West Croydon, Devon Park, Dudley Park, Ferryden Park, Flinders Park, Hindmarsh, West Hindmarsh, Kilkenny, Renown Park, Ridleyton, Welland, Woodville Gardens and Woodville Park, Mick prides himself on staying in touch with his electorate. Mick can often be seen doing his electorate rounds on his bike, door-knocking his constituents, hand delivering welcome letters to new arrivals to the area, or having a kick of the footy at half time while watching the Eagles play at Woodville Oval. Many constituents will often hear Mick on talkback radio.
Mick follows the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and his other interests include his church at West Croydon, gardening, going to the races, fishing and reading.
As Attorney-General, Mick pioneered reforms of South Australian laws protecting victims, changing laws on weapons and knives, closing loop holes in our criminal justice system, introducing anti-hoon driving laws, and cracking down on bikies and serious organised crime.
Mick is pleased to represent a large and diverse range of cultures within his electorate and takes pleasure in attending a variety of cultural events. That the people in his electorate appreciate this is evident in just how many invitations he receives for everything from personal events like weddings and christenings to large public events.
Mick is now the Speaker of the Parliament, bringing greater civility to the House.
So what are some of the things Mick does for people in his electorate?
Dudley Park residents complained about a short slipway that made turning from Regency Road into Young Street, Dudley Park dangerous if more than one car needed to turn. Mick wrote to Minister Pat Conlon to explain the issue. Mick found the first reply he received from the Minister unacceptable. The estimated lengths Minister Conlon gave for the existing slip lane seemed incorrect and it appeared more importance may have been placed on giving the trucking industry a very long slipway for trucks to enter Footersville and Gallipoli Drive/Narweena Road than for local constituents to enter their own street safely without stopping in the inside lane of Regency Road risking being rear-ended. Mick went out in person and measured the slip lanes, both for Footersville and for turning into Young St. He found the slip lane into Gallipoli Drive to be long enough to accommodate three full semi-trailers, so Mick wrote to Minister Pat Conlon again with the correct length of both slipways and what was needed to ensure that road users would be safe. The result was that the truck slipway was slightly shortened and the slipway for Young Street was lengthened to a safer length for people turning the corner, making that section safer for all Regency Road users.
This photo demonstrates the slip lane after Mick argued to have it made safer.
A West Croydon family told Mick about a fencing issue with the park opposite their home. The Vidacic's home is in an unusual place, being the only home on a narrow laneway with a park directly opposite. The park is well used for ball games by the public as well as by a local school and only a small section of the park was fenced. During ball games, especially soccer, balls were often kicked out of the park, hitting the Vidacic's front fence. Balls were often followed across the lane by children who would dart across without looking out for vehicles. The Vidacic family was worried that family vehicles, including Mr Vidacic’s work van, might back into running children in pursuit of a ball. Mick visited them at their home and saw the edge of the park ended only metres from the front of their home. He let them know that the park is under the control of the Charles Sturt Council and gave them the contact details and followed up by sending the Mayor a letter on the Vidacices behalf. The Vidacices are not confident about writing letters in English to officials, so they asked if Mick could write a letter on their behalf, which he did. The Charles Sturt Council replied with a promise to extend the small amount of fencing which was already in place. Fencing now extends most of the length of the laneway, protecting the Vidacic's fence, but, more importantly to them, making the children who use the park safe from being run over while chasing errant balls.
Mrs Vidacic is very happy the fence now runs the entire way along the park and laneway.
Obviously Mick can’t solve every problem, whether because they are local or federal issues, or just because the solutions some people wish for are just not feasible. However you might be surprised at what problems he has helped solve, so it is always worth approaching him, even if only for his advice. Mick has a gift for listening and is blessed with a great memory as well. So when you tell him what you need help with, he really hears what you are saying and can often recall the right thing to do or person to contact. If not, and if he doesn’t know on the spot, he will look it up at the first opportunity. He is not one of these people who pretends to listen and forgets even as he is walking away, Mick genuinely cares about the people in his electorate. If he says he will look further into an issue, then that is exactly what he will do.
Another reason people visit Mick’s office is to use the Justice of the Peace services. Not-for-profit groups often make use of the photocopier and printer. Sometimes people just need someone to speak for them to government departments, other levels of government or businesses.
And of course Mick also represents his constituents in Parliament, sometimes through using his best judgment, sometimes through being told by his constituents how they want him to represent their wishes.