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Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Page: 483

Senator THORPE (Victoria) (13:46): Thank you, beautiful black Acting Deputy President! A truly successful budget is measured by the good in people's lives. Budgets are choices to do things or not to do them. The Prime Minister has chosen not to support legal assistance services like the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, the Community Legal Services Program, the Family Violence Prevention Legal Service program and the legal aid commissions. In fact, Mr Morrison announced a budget cut in real terms to Aboriginal legal services and Aboriginal family violence prevention and legal services. This is after he promised during the Closing the Gap process to do things differently. He's a liar! Closing the gap isn't worth the paper it's written on! This is how they treat our people. This is a budget for the billionaires and the big corporations, not the people who are struggling in this country.

Having access to legal help is critical to enforcing and protecting our rights. That's why the Morrison government chose not to support it. Legal assistance services are struggling to clear the COVID backlog and to make do with cuts to their budgets. This is why we need Greens in power. With the Greens in power, this is what you'll get: an age of legal responsibility of at least 14 years of age; independent policy and prison oversight; a charter of human and environmental rights; and a better family law system. And we would double funding for legal assistance services while also boosting their funding to cover the cuts by Mr Morrison.

The Greens will build stronger and better-connected communities, not funnel people into the quicksand of the criminal legal system.