South Australian lawyers are furious today over legislation passed in the South Australian Lower House, saying it will cause significant financial and emotional harm to those found innocent of alleged crimes.
The budget decision is expected to save the government almost $3 million a year, if it becomes law. The move will deny costs to people who successfully defend a police prosecution and have been slammed by the opposition and many lawyers. The legislation was passed Wednesday night.
“The South Australian Lower House passed legislation which, if it becomes law, will cause significant financial and emotional harm to those found innocent of alleged crimes,” Australian Lawyers Alliance South Australia president, Tony Kerin said.
“The citizens of South Australia should be offended. Their government has said that their right to silence, their presumption of innocence and their right to be compensated for incompetent prosecutions must go in the name of the budgetary process,” Kerin said.
“The Government has been appraised of the shortcomings of this legislation, including failure to consult those whom they should have consulted,” he said.
the Australian Lawyers Alliance said it will contact the Upper House parliamentary members to ensure they make a "fully informed decision on this issue".
Kerin labelled the amendment as "unfair, unjust and offensive to citizen’s rights".
Kerin said if the law was passed, it would be a sad day for the justice system in South Australia and would be an ongoing burden for SA citizens with horrendous implications to the rights of individuals.