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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5242

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsAttorney-General, Minister for Emergency Management, Minister for the Public Service and Integrity and Special Minister of State) (18:36): This budget creates a fairer, smarter nation. Within the Attorney-General's portfolio, I am making sure that our expenditure gives all Australians a fair go under the law. From the royal commission to legal aid, community legal centres, new judges for the Federal Court through to national security, Labor is building a fairer, smarter and safer country.

We have established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We are supporting victims with legal assistance and counselling. In total, this is a $434.1 million investment in justice for our community. We will invest an additional $42 million from 2013-14 to 2014-15 in legal aid and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal assistance. For legal aid, there is a more than seven per cent increase per year. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal assistance, this is an 8.75 per cent increase per year.

We will invest an additional $10.3 million over four years in community legal centres. This is an eight per cent increase in funding per year. This will give more families a fair go under the law. The contribution of Australia's community legal centres to creating a fairer society should not be underestimated. For many people in need, literally walking in off the street, they are the first point of contact. The deeply committed staff and lawyers, who are among our best legal brains, are an asset to our justice system. We are proud to support them. I query whether a Liberal government would support legal assistance in the same way. The Howard government savagely cut the sector and Liberal state governments are busy cutting funding and putting gag orders on community legal centres. I fear we will see the same behaviour from the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Brandis should they ever get the chance.

We will provide $10.8 million for three additional judges in the Federal Court of Australia. We are going to invest $3.8 million over four years for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to conduct a fair and independent merits review of the national disability insurance scheme. In addition, Labor will exempt independent children's lawyers from certain court fees.

One of the Gillard government's key priorities is the protection of the safety and security of our citizens and our national interests. That is why this budget includes $562.1 million for key measures relating to border control, national security and international aid and peacekeeping priorities. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation will receive an increase of $32.3 million from 1 July—a 10 per cent rise in funding. Since coming to government, we have increased funding for ASIO from $291 million in 2007-08 to $369 million in 2013-14. That represents a 27 per cent funding increase since 2007-08. Over the same period the average staffing level for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has increased from 1,349 to 1,778—a 32 per cent increase.

We are investing in our security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Overall, the government has invested around $18 billion from 2008-09 to 2013-14 on national security measures within my portfolio. Last week we saw the Liberals use national security as a political plaything. They would cut $70 billion from the budget, but they have not said where these savings will come from. Australians want to know whether these cuts will jeopardise their national security, and this is a very serious matter given that various of those on the opposition front bench have said they would cut Public Service jobs—sometimes it is 14,000 Public Service jobs, sometimes it is 12,000 Public Service jobs, and sometimes it is the whole of the alleged increase of 20,000 jobs in the public sector. When you look at where those jobs have increased—because that is the way in which it is sometimes put by the opposition—the approximately 20,000 jobs that have increased right across the public sector are not Australian Public Service jobs; they are Defence and security jobs. I take that threat to cut jobs to be a threat to cut from the security area.

Only Labor can deliver a budget which makes Australia stronger, fairer and safer.