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Cuts to legal sector must be stopped

I move that the Senate:

1.      notes the effects of Commonwealth funding uncertainty on the legal assistance sector, including the possible closure of community legal centres, staff loss, a reduction in services to clients and declining staff morale;

2.      acknowledges that, unless this uncertainty is addressed and funding restored, critical services directed at family violence, child protection, disability and mental health and services to regional, remote and Aboriginal land Torres Strait Islander communities may be irrevocably compromised;

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Old parties close ranks in Oil for Food inquiry

Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (16:14): I rise as the chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee to speak to the tabling of this report into the work undertaken by the Australian Federal Police's oil for food task force. Firstly, I would like to place on record my thanks to the legal and constitutional affairs committee secretariat, so competently led by the committee secretary, Ms Sophie Dunstone, for their support to the committee throughout this inquiry.

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Migration Bill contravenes human rights

Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (11:37):  I rise to speak on the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014, which seeks to amend the Migration Act 1958. If those listening to the debate today take away nothing else, I would ask them to take away the understanding that this bill, if passed, has the very real likelihood of Australia deporting people-fellow human beings-who have come to us legally-

Senator O'Sullivan:  Illegally.

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Mandatory minimums wrong way to address gun crime

Penny Wright 15 Mar 2015

The Australian Greens have urged the Labor Party to remain strong in opposing mandatory minimum sentences for gun trafficking, saying the Abbott Government's legislation would not make Australians safer.

Australian Greens legal affairs spokesperson and chair of a current Senate inquiry into illicit firearms Senator Penny Wright said there was no evidence mandatory minimum sentences were effective and tackling gun crime required a more sophisticated approach.

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Indigenous legal cuts a national embarrassment

The Australian Greens have condemned the funding cuts to indigenous legal aid services, which will see the peak body NATSILS close its doors in June.

Spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright said the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service advocacy was crucial to addressing shocking levels of indigenous incarceration.

"More than one in four prisoners are Aboriginal, despite making up only a fraction of our population. Too many are in jail because of inadequate legal understanding and representation," Senator Wright said.

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