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Legal Aid funding boost.



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Budget 2000-2001 9 May 2000

LEGAL AID FUNDING BOOST

 

The Government will provide an additional $63.1 million over the next four years to help more Australians in need get legal aid for Commonwealth legal matters. This comprises new funding of $45.6 million from the 2000-2001 Budget and estimated indexation of $17.5 million.

This is a significant further Government commitment to people who cannot afford legal representation in matters such as family law, veterans' affairs and Commonwealth criminal cases.

The additional funding translates into an extra $25 million each year after 2003-2004. The money will be the basis of new legal aid agreements, which the Commonwealth is negotiating with State and Territory Legal Aid Commissions.

The Commonwealth has made the following offers to the states and territories:

Additional funding of $2 million a year from 2002-2003 also will be provided to establish a fund for expensive criminal cases. The new legal aid agreements will operate from 1 July 2000.

Historical arrangements with the States and Territories formed the basis of funding arrangements to date. They take little account of changing community need or the need for equity in funding across the States and Territories.

Research commissioned by the Government has identified comparatively higher levels of unmet need in some States. The Government has moved to remedy this unfair situation. We want all Australians in need to have equal access to legal aid under the new agreements.

The additional money will ensure that people are not denied legal aid because of where they live. We intend to ensure that a person in one State has the same chance as a person in another State to get legal aid for the same issue.

 

The way that the GST affects Budget estimates, accounting statements and appropriations is described in Budget Paper No. 4.

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