Government must guarantee cross-examination funding

Time is running out for the government to confirm additional funding for Legal Aid to accompany cross-examination reforms that are due to be put to the House of Representatives for a vote later this morning.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
 
THE HON LINDA BURNEY
ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE
MEMBER FOR BARTON
 
GOVERNMENT MUST GUARANTEE CROSS-EXAMINATION FUNDING
 

Time is running out for the government to confirm additional funding for Legal Aid to accompany cross-examination reforms that are due to be put to the House of Representatives for a vote later this morning.
 
The Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill will ban direct cross-examination of domestic violence victims by their perpetrators, and has Labor’s support.
 
But there remains one glaring omission in the debate on this bill – the government has not pledged any additional funding for Legal Aid to enable them to provide legal representation, which is necessary for the cross-examination ban to work.
 
That is despite a bipartisan Senate committee report which called for the government to detail a funding commitment for Legal Aid before this bill reaches the Senate.
 
Labor has moved a second reading amendment to the bill which reiterates that call, and is seeking support from the crossbench.
 
The clock is ticking – the government must confirm just how much funding, and when, it will deliver to Legal Aid in order to make this important reform work. Anything less is not good enough.
 
Debate on this bill was shamefully delayed by two weeks, thanks to the government’s decision to shut down Parliament in the midst of its leadership chaos. Now Morrison needs to do the right thing and properly fund these reforms.         
 
If Attorney-General Christian Porter does not make this pledge, this bill is nothing but an expression of good intentions without the resources that are necessary to make it work.
 
TUESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2018