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Budget 2006: Middle Australia ignored, while the gravy train for Government lawyers steams ahead.



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Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Attorney-General

MEDIA RELEASE

Middle Australia ignored, while the gravy train for Government lawyers steams ahead

Middle Australians needing access to justice have again been forgotten by the Howard Government in the budget.

Neither the legal aid program nor community legal centres received any new money.

The entire federal community legal centre budget is only $24 million for the next financial year.

Yet the Government spends more than 7 times that amount on its own legal fees. This year the Howard Government was contracted to pay $174 m in legal fees to just the top twenty firms. One firm was contracted to get $19 m - almost the whole community legal centres budget to one firm!

Community legal centres need more support. Big changes to family law and welfare rules will mean a lot more demand by mums and dads for legal advice. And by reducing the role of unions and the Industrial Relations Commission, the Government’s extreme industrial relations changes will force a lot of workers to community legal centres for help with employment issues.

These neglected programs are the very ones that help middle Australia get access to justice when they can’t afford expensive lawyers’ fees.

The Howard Government has its spending priorities on lawyers all wrong. It looks after itself handsomely, paying big fees to the big law firms.

But it has no regard for helping out hard-working Australians when they have family law, Centrelink or employment problems.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

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