Page 3281 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022
across the rest of the territory to get an understanding of where that investment is coming, where that investment has been delivered. But it also must be reflective of two important points. Firstly, where population growth is occurring and where there is not existing infrastructure so new infrastructure is being built for the first time. It has certainly been the case in Gungahlin and it is increasingly the case in the Molonglo Valley. Then the secondary issue is: what is the physical state of the existing infrastructure? The reality is that the oldest infrastructure in this city is in the CBD.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Legal Aid Commission (ACT)—Part 1.15.
MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (10.53): I want to thank the Legal Aid Commission, Legal Aid ACT, for their very valuable work. I am always learning something myself as they describe their work and the priorities that are before them. I do applaud in particular their support for victims of family violence and people from the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders community in Canberra.
I note that one of their priorities in this budget was to finalise long-term accommodation. It is on page 22 of the paper. I did write to the Attorney-General earlier this month, on 10 October, and maybe he can give us the answer this morning, about the renewal or the replacement of the lease that Legal Aid had on its premises in the city. It is my understanding that this lease was due to expire at the end of September and there were some issues to do with a commitment to moving away from gas as an energy source for that building. I am not quite sure what happened at the end of September. I do hope they are still there, even though the lease has ended. As I said, I wrote to the Attorney-General on 10 October. Forgive me if he has responded and I have missed that, but he is certainly welcome to speak to that this morning.
What are the plans, the long-term accommodation plans, for Legal Aid? That is one of their self-described priorities: “finalise long-term accommodation”. They have a very important function and are very aptly located in the city. We have the court precinct here. We have the police centre here. We have a central location for travel. So it is a very obvious place to be for such a legal service provider, but doubt remains—the last time I spoke to them anyway, which was a few weeks ago, during estimates—as to the long-term arrangements for accommodation for their own staff. It may not be part of the speech that he was planning to give this morning, but I do invite the Attorney-General to fill us in on the details of Legal Aid’s accommodation plans. My understanding is that it is in his hands and awaiting some sort of outcome.
As I have already mentioned, Legal Aid does valuable support work, particularly for the more vulnerable in our community, those who are not as financially endowed as others, to access their legal services. I do, and will continue to, monitor that Legal Aid expenditure is being spent for these priority targets. I have explored on a couple of occasions with Legal Aid a significant cash holding. I understand that they have reasons to have a bit of a buffer that is actually not being spent, and that is partly related to their accommodation. That is my understanding anyway. I am certainly not trying to misquote them or mischaracterise their response. But in the medium and long term, a legal provider like this ought to have most of its money being spent on its services, rather than sitting there just in case they need it for something.