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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1254 ..

Prosecutions - Increased Costs

(Question No. 113)

Mr Stanhope asked the Minister for Justice and Community Safety, upon notice, on 24 March 1999:

In relation to the increase in the cost of prosecutions reported in the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety's quarterly reports for 1998-99.

Noting in the Department's first and second quarterly reports that the costs per prosecutor's business day have risen by 15% and 30%, respectively, above the yearly target figure and that the variation is due to the "appointment of external Counsel for continuity of representation in several matters", as stated in the latest quarterly report:

1) Do you expect the blow-out in these costs to continue?

2) Why wasn't the blow-out addressed following publication of the first quarterly report?

3) What measures are you taking to address the escalating costs?

4) Why was the length and subsequent difficulty of some of the cases before the Director of

Public Prosecutions not factored into the Department's projected figures at the last budget?

Mr Humphries: The answer to Mr Stanhope's question is as follows:

1) The reported cost per prosecutor business day overstates the costs of prosecution because it includes the cost of external Counsel but excludes the 116 business days provided by Counsel, during the first and second quarters.

The cost per prosecutor business day for the half-year ending 31 December l998 falls from $1,05l to -

(a) $996.43 if recalculated by including the number of Counsel business days; and

(b) $973.21 if recalculated by excluding the costs of Counsel altogether.

These adjusted figures represent an increase of 15.2% and 12.5% respectively.

It is not expected that commitments to external Counsel will continue at the same rate in future, but the Office must manage in an environment which makes predictions of future costs difficult.

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the Canberra region. It is also an important meeting place for other Aboriginal peoples. We respect their continuing cultures and value the contribution they make to life in the ACT.