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Tasmania and Commonwealth agree on legal aid

The Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments have reached an agreement in principle on a range of matters which will enable the continuation of a co-operative legal aid arrangement beyond 1 July 1997.

Announcing the agreement today, Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon Daryl Williams AM QC MP, and Tasmanian Attorney-General, the Hon Ray Groom MHA, said this initial agreement would allow discussions to progress on details related to the continuation of legal aid in Tasmania.

"We are pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement in principle on a number of key elements which will form the basis for a formal agreement between the Commonwealth and Tasmania on the future provision of legal aid. The agreement will provide for maintenance of legal aid expenditure on Commonwealth cases at 1995-96 levels," Mr Williams said.

"Officers of both governments will now work to quickly settle the fine details of a revised agreement. Details of the agreement will be released when the arrangement is concluded."

Tasmanian Attorney-General, Ray Groom, said the Tasmanian Legal Aid Commission can be assured of continued service.

"We are confident that the areas now agreed form the basis for further negotiations on the continuation of the legal aid system to ensure clients receive the maximum benefit from the system, and that the system is accountable to meet the priorities which emerge from time to time," Mr Groom said.

"The Governments have also agreed to develop a longer term strategy to determine Commonwealth funding allocations so that funding levels are not arbitrarily and suddenly varied. Future funding renegotiations will be based on an agreed mechanism between our governments.

"We look forward to progressing this issue further in detailed discussions so that clients of the Tasmanian Legal Aid Commission can be assured of continued service delivery from a single office."

Media contacts:

Michele Mason, 03 6233 6066

Nicholas Harford, 06 277 7300