Shorten Pledge on Community Legal Centres
5 May 2016 at 8:25 pm
The federal opposition leader, Bill Shorten, has singled out returning funding to community legal centres in his budget reply speech to Parliament.
Shorten said in his response to the Coalition budget that a Labor government would close the growing justice gap in Australia by “putting back funding for community legal centres”.
The comments come after the Turnbull budget on Tuesday maintained cuts to these services of up to 30 per cent in 2017.
The chair of the National Association of Community Legal Centres, Rosslyn Monro, said the federal budget had failed to reverse the looming funding cuts or invest in legal assistance services to meet the demand of women and children fleeing violence every day.
“A 30 per cent cut to funding nationally will mean these women won’t get the legal help they need to maintain their safety,” Monro said.
“Community legal centres help over 215,000 people each year, and we are forced to turn away over 160,000 more people each year, largely due to a lack of resources.
“The Women’s Safety Package announced last October was a welcome but a small investment, however that investment will be diluted by a 30 per cent cut to funding for community legal centres across the country from 1 July next year.”
Shorten told Parliament that Labor would also legislate to protect Medicare and make marriage equality a reality in the first 100 days in office.
He said the Liberal budget favoured big business over battlers, millionaires over millions of Australian families.