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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1517

Senator ROBERT RAY —I direct my question to Senator Gareth Evans in his capacity as Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that the Federal Court of Australia has ordered that legal aid worth $400,000 be granted to Brian Maher, a person alleged to have been involved in a hundred million dollar tax rip-off? Will the Government consider amending the legislation covering legal aid to prohibit the granting of aid to technical bankrupts, persons who have, for instance, transferred assets to their spouses but who still seem able to drive around in Rolls Royces or to use luxury yachts? Is this the same Brian Maher who used to boast that he had not paid income tax for the last 25 years?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have heard that the Federal Court has made an order to that effect, which obviously does give rise to a number of sensitive policy questions of the kind that have been identified by Senator Ray. I believe that the matter is being considered by the Attorney-General and I hope to be in a position shortly to advise the Senate and Senator Ray what the Government's response will be. I make the point that a court order is a court order and that the Government will of course respect, as always, what the judicial system comes up with, however much particular circumstances may appear to give rise to policy problems.