Mr McKIM question to ATTORNEY-GENERAL, Dr GOODWIN
Yesterday the Treasurer said, 'We will step in and make certain community legal centres are funded at the same level so they can provide the services that they need'. Can you confirm that the Government's commitment includes all CLCs in Tasmania, including the Environmental Defenders Office? Given the key role that the EDO plays in reducing pressure on courts, particularly reducing pressure on planning authorities, can you confirm that the EDO, which is a member of the CLC network in Tasmania as they are around Australia, will receive assistance from the state Government to make up the funding shortfall they are dealing with, thanks to the Commonwealth's decision to cut their funding?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for his question. Yesterday I made an announcement that the Tasmanian Government had given a commitment to the CLCs and Legal Aid that they would be funded at the same level for this year to provide them with that reassurance, but we are still working with the Federal Government to make sure they step up and fund Legal Aid and the CLCs as they had previously done to the full extent. In relation to his specific question, the Tasmanian Government currently, through two departments, provides a modest amount of funding to the Environmental Defenders Office. My understanding is that - and I have spoken to the Treasurer about this - that funding will continue but there will be tighter requirements around reporting. In relation to -
Mr McKim interjecting.
Dr GOODWIN - Would you like to let me finish answering the question.
Mr McKim - I would like you to start addressing the issue, please.
Dr GOODWIN - I thought I was. I just explained the funding for the EDO through the two departments.
Mr McKim interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I am not going to allow debate across the Chamber. The Attorney-General will be given an opportunity to answer that question.
Dr GOODWIN - In terms of the cut to the Environmental Defenders Office which was announced by the Federal Government some time ago, the state Government will not be picking up the shortfall in that funding but, as I said, we will continue with the funding that we already provide through those two departments.