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Wednesday, 18 March 1987
Page: 1089

(Question No. 4434)


Mr Cadman asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 21 August 1986:

(1) How many cases have been brought before the High Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia and Administrative Appeals Tribunal relating to immigration matters since 5 March 1983.

(2) What have been the total court and administrative costs of the cases.

(3) In how many of these cases has legal aid been payable.

(4) What has been the total cost of legal aid for the cases.

(5) What are the specific criteria for an award of legal aid in such cases.


Mr Lionel Bowen —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Information as to cases coming before the High Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia and Administrative Appeals Tribunal provided by their respective registries is as follows. Between 5 March 1983 and 15 September 1986, 8 cases were brought before the High Court. Of these, 6 were by way of special leave from the Federal Court, and 2 by way of proceedings in the Court's original jurisdiction. Between 5 March 1983 and 30 September 1986, a total of 246 cases were brought before the Federal Court of Australia. From 5 March 1983 to 31 August 1986, 125 applications were lodged with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

(2) Separate figures are not kept of the costs incurred by courts and tribunals relating to specific areas of jurisdiction. The Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following figures on the legal costs incurred by it in litigation before courts and tribunals:

Year ended

Amount

30 June 1983...

83,644

30 June 1984...

77,106

30 June 1985...

112,236

30 June 1986...

124,275

These figures do not include staff and administrative costs of the Department or the costs of staff and administration of the Australian Government Solicitor. It is not possible to quantify the total staff and administrative costs.

(3) No statistics are kept of matters before the High Court, the Federal Court or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which are the subject of grants of legal assistance. However, a survey by my Department of the granting of aid for prohibited non-citizens has shown an annual average of 80 legally-aided cases in the Federal Court of Australia and 60 legally-aided cases before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. There were not High Court matters aided during the period surveyed.

(4) No figure is available since separate costs figures in immigration matters are not kept by the legal aid agencies and cannot be readily ascertained. The survey mentioned above will provide figures as to costs incurred in payments to private lawyers when all cases included in it have been completed.

(5) Guidelines have been adopted by the various State and Commonwealth bodies responsible for delivery of legal aid services and are published by my Department, for the information of the public, in a publication entitled ``Who Gets Legal Aid?-Summary of the Eligibility Criteria of Major Legal Aid Bodies Throughout Australia''. The guidelines in general indicate areas in which legal aid may be excluded rather than those particular cases in which aid may be granted. They do not deal with immigration matters which therefore fall to be considered under normal criteria of `means' and `merit'.