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Lawyers weigh up $154m funding boost

Lawyers weigh up $154m funding boost

Legal assistance was handed $154 million yesterday as the Rudd Government announced its Budget._x000D_

LEGAL assistance was handed $154 million yesterday as the Rudd Government announced its Budget.

The injection of funds, to be made over four years, has been welcomed by the various legal professional bodies. The Law Council of Australia said it welcomed the funding into a “chronically under-funded area”.

Attorney General Robert McClelland said yesterday: “This is the largest and most significant injection of new funding into the legal assistance sector for well over a decade.”

The additional funding will be provided from 1 July 2010 and will include an additional $92.3 million over four years for legal aid, $34.9 million over four years for Indigenous legal services, and $26.8 million over four years for community legal services programs.

While the Victorian Bar said the $92.3m for legal aid does not go far enough, the Law Council of Australia said that, overall, it is a “substantial increase in recurrent expenditure”, said Law Council president Glenn Ferguson.

“Notwithstanding the significant injection of funds received in this Budget, the legal assistance sector will still be grossly underfunded and suffering the effects of many years of neglect from the previous government,” Ferguson said.

He agreed with the Victorian Bar that the $92.3m for legal aid falls short of the required budget.

“This amounts to $23 million per annum and is significantly short of the $43 million the Law Council indicated was required for legal aid this year alone to begin to provide better access to justice,” Mr Ferguson said.

The investment takes the Commonwealth’s total funding for legal assistance services to over $1.2 billion over four years.

The Government, meanwhile, said of the $154m: “Consistent with the Government’s Strategic Framework for Access to Justice, the funding will focus on early intervention and will reinforce a shift away from expensive adversarial court litigation.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Lawyers weigh up $154m funding boost
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