Law Council of Australia criticises both parties on legal aid

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Law Council of Australia has criticised both major parties for failing to commit to increases in legal aid funding. The LCA said that the Greens and Democrats have both committed to an immediate increase of $140 million, but that Labor and the Coalition are still yet to make any commitment.

Law Council President Tim Bugg said, “The Budget surplus in 2006/07 was $17.3 billion; this year it is projected to be $10.6 billion – yet we’re supposed to accept that a fraction of this amount cannot be spared to assist less fortunate Australians pursue their right to justice.”

An Australian Democrats policy document says that low levels of legal aid funding results in poorer Australians receiving a reduced level of justice from the legal system. "This has increased community frustration with the legal system, which undermines respect for the rule of law," the document says. The document commits the Democrats to, "an urgent injection of Commonwealth funding into legal aid and community legal centres."

The Greens policy document commits to "adequate funding" of legal aid, but does not specifically call for an increase in funding.