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Legal purchasing improvements start today.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON ROBERT McCLELLAND MP

NEWS RELEASE

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600  Telephone (02) 6277 7300  Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.ag.gov.au/ag

1 July 53/2008

LEGAL PURCHASING IMPROVEMENTS START TODAY

Attorney-General Robert McClelland has today announced the commencement of the first reforms to improve how the Commonwealth purchases legal services.

The amendments to the Legal Services Directions starting today introduce a new mandatory reporting format for legal expenditure by Commonwealth agencies.

“Under the Howard Government, reporting of legal expenditure was inconsistent and erratic. The Rudd Government’s reforms will help better monitor how taxpayer's money is being spent on government lawyers,” Mr McClelland said.

To promote equal opportunity briefing practices, the new mandatory reporting format also includes information on the number and value of briefs to male and female counsel.

Other amendments to the Legal Services Directions place greater emphasis on alternative dispute resolution, to promote the efficient resolution of disputes involving Commonwealth agencies.

The amendments will also ensure that providers who undertake pro bono legal work are not discriminated against by Commonwealth agencies.

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“These reforms demonstrate the Rudd Government's commitment to keep a check on government spending and to pursue value for taxpayers’ money,” Mr McClelland said.

“They follow extensive consultation with government agencies and legal providers. I would like to thank everyone who provided feedback on the proposed reforms.”

Further reforms to simplify and streamline tendering and contracting are scheduled to be rolled-out later this year.

Media Contact: Adam Sims 0419 480 224