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Tuesday, 9 March 1971
Page: 754

Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:

What progress has been made in preparing the Ordinances relating te legal aid and the Public Solicitor in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea (Hansard, 15th September 1970, pages 1089 and 1092).

Mr Barnes (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for External Territories) The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Details of the basis on which a statutory office of Public Solicitor should be established are still under consideration. The principle that the Public Solicitor should bc established on a statutory basis independent of direct administration control is accepted but the manner in which his activities are to be financed and the scope on which legal aid is to be given have yet to be determined.

The difficulties of formulating a legal aid scheme contained within the economic capacity of the territory are illustrated by the fact that no developing Commonwealth country provides legal aid on a regular basis or on so extensive a scale as is already provided in the Territory. It is understood that the only legal aid schemes which in practice provide anything like a complete coverage are those in England, Scotland, Ontario and some Australian States in all of which there are developed private legal professions. Legislation in Zambia provides for a comprehensive legal aid scheme but it is understood that in practice only a very limited amount of legal aid has so far been given.

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