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Labor forces new legal outsourcing disclosure rule.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Attorney-General 1 March 2006

Labor forces new legal outsourcing disclosure rule

The new Legal Services Directions that commence today are the result of Labor’s persistent campaign to lift the lid on government legal expenditure.

Today is a small victory for accountability and transparency in government, following years of Howard Government secrecy on the cost of legal services since their outsourcing policy was introduced in 1999.

Since this time the only check on government legal expenditure has been Labor’s consistent use of parliamentary questions to try to get some information for the public about the true cost of legal services.

Last year it became obvious that the Attorney-General had to take control of government legal expenditure when an Audit Office report showed mismanagement had led to a massive blow-out of costs of 23% from 99/00 to

03/04.

At last, the Government has relented and will publish this information direct to the public.

The Legal Services Directions are the rules that govern how federal government agencies are to deal with law firms and barristers. The new Directions issued by the Attorney-General now include a requirement that agencies annually report to the public on their legal expenditure.

The Attorney-General should now show he is serious about transparency by encouraging his Cabinet colleagues to answer my latest questions on the legal spend. These questions were submitted on 28 November 2005 and, three months later, we still have no answers.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

For more information call Jacob Varghese: 0417 108 362 or 02 6277 4767