State Budget funding for justice initiatives a boon for Queensland: QLS
|| 15 Jun 2016
||07 3842 5835
||0488 433 884
Queensland Law Society says the myriad justice initiatives announced in the 2015-16 State Budget was a boon for Queensland, but believes more funding was needed in crucial areas.
Society president Bill Potts said the Palaszczuk Labor Government had delivered funding to a wide range of important justice delivery issues including funding to legal aid and access to justice, domestic violence initiatives, the courts and sufficient resources to boost police numbers in Queensland.
“The Society congratulates the government on the plethora of justice issues the Budget has addressed, many of which we called for prior to the 2015 state election," Mr Potts said.
“It is pleasing the government is listening to the voice of lawyers in Queensland.
“However, what we have so far can best be described as a good start. More can be done by both state and federal governments to ensure justice can be accessed quickly and easily by all Queenslanders.
“This is like running a marathon and being handed a water bottle at the 2km mark; it’s appreciated, but you’ll need a lot more to finish the race."
Mr Potts said an increase in federal funding to match the state commitments was the key to ensuring sufficient legal aid was provided.
“As it stands, federal funding will fall off a very steep cliff in a very short time, and that needs to change," he said.
“Just as the marathon runner at the halfway point looks forward to a big gulp of Gatorade, we are hoping to see a drum full of legal aid funding to ensure access to justice for all.”
QLS’s response came after Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath on Tuesday said the Budget measures honoured election commitments and ensured Queensland’s justice system had the resources needed to pursue and prosecute the state’s most dangerous criminals, while at the same time catering for vulnerable members of the community who found themselves in the confronting situation of appearing before the courts.
Mr Potts said the key areas to attract funding the Society had campaigned long and hard for included:
- $198.2m over five years to respond to Not Now, Not Ever report, including $43.1m for enhanced counselling, court based support, sexual assault services and post crisis step down support and services, $34.8m for the staged rollout of specialist domestic violence courts and, $300,000 increased funding over three years for the Women’s Legal Services Helpline.
- Moving the existing funding of legal assistance, legal profession regulation and law library services from the Legal Practitioners Interest on Trust Accounts Fund to consolidated revenue comprising $166.2m over five years.
- $32.4m additional funding for Legal Aid Queensland.
- $20m to respond to increased number of matters in Queensland courts and other justice initiatives.
- $19.5m additional funding for the Probation and Parole Service and Parole Boards to improve the supervision and timeliness of decisions.
- $3.7m to continue Justices of the Peace hearing.
- $6.1m to fund elder abuse initiatives including to enhance the seniors Legal and Support Services and Elder Abuse Prevention Unit.
- $7.8m over four years to support aerial and satellite imagery of rural and remote areas to assist with vegetation management compliance
- $39.1m for Queensland police to target serious and organised crime
- Mr Potts also noted that while government spending on justice was up, revenue raising issues were slim pickings and included:
- $27.5m annually from the Legal Practitioners Interest on Trust Accounts Fund paid into consolidated revenue.
- $70,000 annually raised from a new fee structure for QCAT appeals.
For further information, please contact Tony Keim on 07 3842 5835, mobile 0488 433 884 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.