Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 23 March 2017) . . Page.. 973 ..
impact on the value of the services provided by community legal centres at a time when we should be looking to increase the support they receive, not reduce it.
I am aware that Mr Hanson is bringing forward an amendment. I will discuss some of the details on that after he has introduced it, rather that pre-empting his comments. I commend this motion to the Assembly.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.17): We will be supporting the motion, but, as Mr Rattenbury alluded to, we will be moving an amendment. Mr Rattenbury has already amended the original motion he put forward to remove clause (1)(f), which I think was unnecessary and probably unhelpful in the context of seeking additional funding, and I welcome the fact that he has done so.
The point of my amendment is to point out the truth about funding. It is true some reductions are coming, but it is also true there has been a massive injection of funds in this area for new projects, and the fact that that is omitted from this motion means it is not balanced and it does not tell the whole picture. It is very important that that point is made.
We will always stand up for people who are vulnerable in our community, who need access to services like community legal centres, and we will always stand up for Canberra. Although we will be supporting today’s motion, there are elements of this motion that are out of balance and it would be better if the motion as amended was to be voted on eventually. I understand that will be not be supported by Mr Rattenbury, and that is a little disappointing.
I have been in contact with the Attorney-General’s office up on the hill. We know, as I said, that there have been significant injections into front-line legal services by the current coalition government, and I will go to that. The government is providing $1.6 billion over the five years 2015-16 to 2019-20 to Legal Aid commissions, community legal centres and Indigenous legal assistance programs. That includes $1.26 billion for Legal Aid commissions and $195 million for community legal centres through the national partnership on legal assistance services, and a further $353 million for Indigenous legal assistance programs.
In addition—and this is to the nub of it—the Turnbull government is providing an extra $45 million for front-line legal assistance services as part of its $200 million investment to reduce violence against women and children. Some $16.5 million is going directly to community legal centres, and that well exceeds the amount that has been reduced in the coming budget. So it is true some reductions will be made, but they are not as much as the significant investments made by the federal coalition government in new initiatives, particularly protecting the victims of family and domestic violence.
There is also additional money in that bracket: $50 million for specialist domestic violence services under the $100 million women’s safety package; and $30 million over three years for legal assistance for family law services to help those affected by family violence. Furthermore, legal aid funding is increasing, and the commission will