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ACT Welcomes Decision To Make Legal Aid Public

ACT Welcomes Decision To Make Legal Aid Payments Public

Wednesday 30th Jun 1999

Patricia Schnauer

Media Release -- Justice

ACT Justice Spokesman Patricia Schnauer today welcomed the Ombudsman's order for the Legal Services Board to make public the ten highest paid legal aid lawyers.

Patricia Schnauer has led the campaign to get the legal aid budget under control and has been working to get the information released. She had also written to the Minister of Justice asking that the top ten legally aided law firms also be made public.

"There are serious questions that I have raised in relation to the administration of legal aid. We must have transparency and accountability in the system that is difficult while it is a closed shop.

"The Minister of Justice has indicated that he is working to get the legal aid budget under control. To do this properly, he must first adopt the recommendations of the Legal Services Board to give the Board better control over legal aid spending.

"Secondly, the Minister must undertake a review to tighten up on the eligibility criteria for legal aid. Those who have a genuine case must be able to qualify for legal aid, but we also need a proper system put in place to eliminate any rorts occurring.

"In terms of accountability for Government expenditure, lawyers should not be treated any differently from others receiving taxpayers money," said Patricia Schnauer.

ENDS

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