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Liberal, Labor knock back urgent bid to save community legal services

Media Release
Penny Wright 26 Mar 2015

The Labor and Liberal parties have today voted against a Senate motion to increase funding for community legal services, as centres across the country turn clients away amid funding uncertainty.

Australian Greens spokesperson for legal affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said she was extremely disappointed the Government and Opposition had voted against the Greens motion to increase funding for the sector in the upcoming Federal Budget.

"The Abbott Government's cuts to legal aid have been devastating and the ongoing uncertainty is leading to job losses, office closures and people in serious need being turned away," Senator Wright said.

"These cuts threaten critical services including those directed at family violence, child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"If the Government pushes ahead with these cuts, it will lead to massive injustices. There is absolutely no doubt more vulnerable people will end up in jail because they won't be able to get legal advice or representation.

"The Australian Greens want to see the Government's cuts reversed and the findings of the Productivity Commission report - including an extra $200 million in funding for the sector - implemented urgently.

"It is hugely disappointing that neither the Labor nor Liberal parties will make a commitment to end the uncertainty and guarantee the future of community legal services, and the vulnerable people they serve."

The full text of the motion can be found here. Senator Wright will also ask the Government further questions about the funding cuts in tomorrow's extra Estimates hearing.

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