Coalition backflip gives legal aid reprieve

Published on Monday, 24 April 2017 12:13

SOLICITORS at the Fremantle Community Legal Centre were breathing a sigh of relief after the Turnbull government backed down over major funding cuts this week.

It gave them extra reason to celebrate a move into a new office over the Fremantle Malls; their former office in Queensgate is due to be demolished as part of the Kings Square redevelopment, but the process started a little prematurely when part of the ceiling collapsed a month earlier.

Legal centre co-ordinator Judy McLean says while she’s still awaiting details on how additional funding for domestic violence is to be allocated, at least she can now prepare this year’s budget with some certainty.

Fremantle MP Josh Wilson was an active campaigner and says he can’t understand why it took so long to reverse the decision.

“I’ve been calling for this harmful and senseless funding cut to be abandoned since my election last July,” Mr Wilson said.

“It was unacceptable for the Coalition to withdraw support for access to justice in Australia.

“While today’s announcement is good news for this important community service sector and for the vulnerable people it serves, we should never have been in this position.”

The Law Society of WA and Law Council of Australia welcomed the changes.

“Practitioners in our legal assistance sector do terrific work in ensuring access to justice for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, making it vital that their organisations receive adequate funding,” said law society president Alain Musikanth.

“The scheduled budget cuts would have significantly deepened the funding crisis affecting the legal assistance sector, with enormous downstream costs to taxpayers,” said law council president Fiona McLeod.

As published in the Fremantle Herald

by STEVE GRANT

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