Posted on 09. May, 2011 in News

The Baillieu Government’s failure to increase legal aid resources as part of its law and order crackdown in last week’s Budget is short-sighted and ill-considered, Shadow Attorney General Martin Pakula said today.

Mr Pakula said the Government’s plans to deliver 1700 extra police, an additional 940 Protective Services Officers, and tougher sentencing by 2014 would put an immediate and significant strain on existing court and legal aid resources.

“This is a Government which clearly doesn’t understand the basic principles of cause and effect,” Mr Pakula said.

“The Baillieu Government promised to get tough on crime but its lack of investment in legal services and infrastructure has seriously jeopardised its law and order credentials.  These funding decisions will also result in longer court lists and more delays, despite the Baillieu Government’s promises to the contrary.

“Mr Baillieu’s failure to increase legal aid funding to accommodate the inevitable spike in demand for services in the next four years will seriously compromise service delivery and lead to further roadblocks in the administration of justice.

“It’s all well and good to talk about getting tough on crime, but talk is cheap and this Government is clearly not prepared to put its money where its mouth is.  There is not a single extra cent for Legal Aid and no extra money for Court Executive Services.

“The Baillieu Government promised to increase access to justice and reduce court delays but has failed to back these promises up with adequate funding and investment. It beggars belief that apart from its pre-election commitment for 500 additional prison beds, the Government has not invested any extra funding in the justice portfolio.

“Despite boasting that “jail means jail” and promising to implement “community corrections orders with teeth”, the Attorney General has not managed to secure any extra money in the budget for:

  • New prisons;
  • More prison officers;
  • Additional Community Corrections Officers; or
  • Legal Aid.

“Given the inevitable increase in “Not Guilty” pleas that will arise from stricter sentencing laws,this lack of funding is extremely shortsighted and betrays the Government’s lack of planning in properly delivering its law and order agenda.

“There is no greater proof that the Baillieu Government lacks the necessary vision than its failure to properly fund the legal system and the justice portfolio more broadly.”

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