Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings said today Legal Aid was in crisis in Tasmania with cuts to the Legal Aid Commission’s frontline services causing havoc in the State’s judicial system.
“The Commission has already been forced to cut its staff by 10 per cent which is leaving people, some facing jail, with no legal representation,” Ms Giddings said.
“People seeking legal assistance are increasingly being turned away, with Legal Aid accepting fewer cases.
“This in turn is impacting on the courts as the judiciary adjourn more cases in an attempt to give people more time to find legal representation. This slowing of the judicial process is clogging up our courts and increasing their costs.
“The Government is doing nothing to address this deepening crisis in our legal system.
“Rather than address the problems in Legal Aid, the Liberals are threatening further cuts to Legal Aid funding. Meanwhile, they continue to go around spending on extravagant election promises they knew they couldn’t afford.”
Ms Giddings said Attorney General Vanessa Goodwin had ignored the pleas of Tasmania’s legal profession and has failed to address its concerns.
“The legal profession is very worried about the impact funding cuts to legal aid are having on the system.
“Private lawyers who have traditionally taken on Legal Aid work are now refusing to take on the risk of clients whose support can be withdrawn at any moment.
“The Government should be looking at ways to improve the Legal Aid system, not tearing it further apart.”