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Indigenous Legal Services tender: Joint media release.

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Joint Media Release

Senator Kim Carr

Shadow Minister for Public Administration and Open Government, Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation and the Arts

Senator Joe Ludwig Acting Shadow Attorney-General

14 April 2005

Indigenous Legal Services Tender

Labor welcomes the Attorney-General's decision to award the Indigenous Legal Services tenders to the Victorian & Western Australia Aboriginal Legal Services.

These organisations have a long history in providing legal services to indigenous communities. In announcing his decision, Philip Ruddock said:

"The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia has demonstrated the capacity and has a proven track record of providing high quality comprehensive legal and support services throughout Western Australia."

Mr Ruddock says his announcement "illustrates that it is possible to provide professional, culturally appropriate legal services to indigenous Australians while also ensuring value for money."

This is what Labor has been saying all along. The question is why the Government continues to pursue its ideologically driven tendering process in the face of further evidence that existing services represent excellent value to the taxpayer.

Labor has consistently expressed strong concerns about the tender process because of the absence of a requirement that the successful tenderer have an understanding of specific indigenous legal issues.

The latest announcement confirms that the tender process is a waste of time and money, which can only serve to distract hard working legal services from their core function of helping their clients.

It has caused months of unnecessary uncertainty for the Western Australian and Victorian services, but the uncertainty continues for services in other states and territories.

Prior to the election, Labor committed to scrapping the ATSILS tender process because it fails to adequately ensure that the interests of indigenous Australian's were protected.

We now call on the Government to award the remaining state-based tenders to organisations with a proven track record in delivering legal services to indigenous Australians - and let them get on with the job.

For further information: Senator Carr’s Office 0417 118 677/Senator Ludwig’s Office 0417 108 362