Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Budget 97 - legal aid in Western Australia in crisis



Download PDFDownload PDF

4f.

,

d' _ e

•

SENATOR THE HON NICK BOLKUS SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

No.27/97 15 May 1997

BUDGET 97- LEGAL AID IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA IN CRISIS

"The 1997 legal aid budget shows the continued crisis our national legal aid system is in," Shadow Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Senator Nick Bolkus, said today.

"Only $68.981 million has been allocated for distribution to the States and Territories, including $16.162 million for community legal centres. This is down from the $134.486 million that was appropriated last year. A further $52.819 million is being held in reserve in case the Commonwealth has to fund its own separate legal aid service in New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia."

"As a result, Western Australia is only guaranteed to receive $7.447 million next year - and this includes its share of the funding for community legal centres," Senator Bolkus said. "This is at least $2.4 million less than the amount Western Australia was told it would receive in October last year."

"Mr Williams has broken that promise."

"What incentive does Western Australia have to continue with the co-operative legal aid agreement when it is being treated like this?"

"Western Australia is being unfairly punished because it has refused to accept the Commonwealth's disgraceful decision to cut $40 million from our national legal aid system," Senator Bolkus said. "A cut that has already seen Western Australia lose $3.3 million in funding."

"Mr Williams should stop playing vengeful politics and start caring about the impact his callous budget decisions will have."

"With less than seven weeks to go before the national legal aid system comes crashing down, Mr Williams should tell the State and Territory governments, legal practitioners and the public what is going on. Do we have a national legal aid system_ or not?"

"The mess he has created with this legal aid budget shows that he can't decide which way to turn. And why? Because he hasn't got the guts to look the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians who are suffering as a result of this decision in the eye and tell them that he has got it wrong."

"It is about time Mr Williams stopped playing monopoly with our legal aid money and started doing his job as the first law officer of the land. He should stop defending the indefensible and start defending the right of each and every Australian to access our justice system."

ADELAIDE OFFICE Contact: Simon Banks Ph: (06) 277 3388 (bh) or 0419 63 85 87 (m) Fax: (06) 277 3062 CANBERRA OFFICE PO BOX 55, TORRENSVILLE PLAZA SA 5031 SUITE SG 34

101 HENLEY BEACH ROAD

r' 7`',::::-:: 7 7 ' - !!-\ 7' 7.-- PARLIAMENT HOUSE MILE END SA 5031 . CANBERRA ACT 2600 TEL 08 352 7477 IDA2L72ALT=.7 7 Z:2 . 1; TEE': 06 277 3388 FAX: 08 234 1165 FAX: 06 277 3062 TOLL FREE No.: 008 807 477