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LAbor and the truth-poles apart on law and justice-Costello



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MEDIA RELEASE

PETER COSTELLO, M.P. SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SHADOW MINISTER EOR JUSTICE

LABOR AND TH E TRUTH - POLES APART ON LAW AND JUSTICE - COSTELLO

"Labor's claims in Poles Apart on justice, legal services, and law and order, is organised, calculated deception. Labor and the truth are poles apart on law and justice", Shadow Attorney General and Shadow Minister for Justice, Mr Peter Costello, said today.

"In an effort to make it look that GST will have a large impact on legal services, Labor conveniently overlooks the largest users of legal services - business. For business, GST on legal services is fully rebatable. It is treated as a tax on inputs, fully rebatable against liability on outputs.

"Conveyancing, the making of wills, neighbourhood disputes, and the like, are not the sole preserve of lawyers - indeed, should not be the sole preserve of lawyers. Prices for these services are falling as price competition has started. Under a Coalition Government prices for these services will continue to fall as price competition is

enhanced.

"The scaremongering on legal aid is disgraceful, but not new. The inaptly-named Minister for "Justice", Senator Tate, tried these claims in November 1991.

"He was challenged to apologise after the nature of a GST was explained to him. To date he has not responded. For the benefit of Senator Tate...

"GST on bills to the Legal Aid Commission will be fully rebatable to the Commission. If anything, the costs paid by the Commission will fall, as solicitors' bills rendered to it no longer build in the costs of payroll tax, training guarantee levies, non-rebatable wholesale sales tax. The GST paid by the Legal Aid Commission is fully claimable and

refundable to it.

"Labor's scaremongering is also a slur on the judiciary. It is bad enough for the purposes of political scaremongering to make false and inflated claims - for example, attempt to claim that $10 million of saving in administrative costs results in a $31 million cut. But to claim this will mean that innocent people might end up in gaol is

outrageous. What does this say about our judges - that they cannot distinguish between guilt and innocence without the help of a legal aid lawyer? Does this mean that in the thousands of cases where people are already denied legal aid, the innocent are being sent to gaol by our judges?

"Labor does not just impugn its own credibility with this kind of scaremongering. It impugns judges and the legal system as well. In an effort to politically point-score, Labor is prepared to impugn everything, including the true facts.

End Release: Contact:

29 September 1992 Anthony Smith (03) 822 4422 or AH (018) 324 009

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY U3RARY M1CAH