The Australian Greens have called on the Abbott Government to heed a Productivity Commission report, emphasising the important role of legal assistance services in law reform.
“The Abbott Government was extremely short-sighted in ripping $43 million out of the legal sector, starving community services of the ability to conduct law reform,” said the Australian Greens’ spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright.
“The Draft Report on Access to Justice Arrangements says that legal assistance lawyers are well placed to identify problems that require action, especially issues affecting disadvantaged Australians.
“The Greens urge the Government to acknowledge the role of legal aid commissions and community legal centres, in their advocacy about systemic issues and law reform.
“The distinction between systemic and ‘frontline’ issues is arbitrary, and the Commission has backed our view that systemic reform is a key role for legal assistance services.
“The Commission’s report cites Environmental Defenders Offices as a prime example where public funding for advocacy directly benefits the community, yet the federal government has ruthlessly defunded these worthwhile services.”