The Palaszczuk Government’s 2016-17 Budget ensures Queenslanders have access to an effective, responsive and efficient justice system.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath (pictured) said budget measures would honour election commitments and ensure Queensland’s justice system has the resources it needs to pursue and prosecute the state’s most dangerous criminals, while at the same time catering for vulnerable Queenslanders who find themselves in the confronting situation of appearing before the justice system.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to tackling and disrupting organised crime in all its forms,” said Mrs D’Ath.
“That means adequately funding the police responsible for investigating and arresting individuals participating in organised crime.
“But it also means ensuring the justice system has the resources to process criminal matters in a timely fashion.
“That is why this budget provides funding of $12.1 million over four years to the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions to boost the response to serious organised crime.
“It will also address workload pressures and backlogs in indictment presentation that grew under the former LNP government, which greatly increased the number of inmates on remand in Queensland prisons.”
Mrs D’Ath said the increase in funding for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions was just one of a number of measures designed to augment the efficiency with which Queensland’s justice system deals with the ever-increasing number of cases before it.
“The budget provides $166.2 million over five years with ongoing funding of $40.6 million per annum to provide sustainable long-term funding for legal assistance, legal profession regulation and law library services providing triennial funding certainty to legal entities,” said Mrs D’Ath.
“The increased expenditure will be partly offset by transferring an estimated $27.5 million per year in interest revenue from the Legal Practitioners Interest on Trust Account Fund (LPITAF) to the consolidated fund.”
Mrs D’Ath said the 2016-17 Queensland Budget would also inject much needed new funding into Legal Aid Queensland providing access to justice for financially disadvantaged Queenslanders.
“The 2016-17 State Budget honours the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to provide funding of $32.4 million over four years to boost Legal Aid Queensland funding to a level that is equal to the national average per capita over time and funding of $13 million a year, ongoing, to sustain expected increases in demand,” she said.
“Increasing demand for the justice services across Queensland will be addressed through the provision of an additional $20 million over two years.
“The staff in court registries in Queensland deal with an ever-increasing workload of complex matters,” said Mrs D’Ath.
“This funding package represents the greatest injection of support to court services in more than a decade, and will be used to respond to increased domestic and family violence, land, and criminal matters.”
The budget will also support the continued rollout of specialised courts and court diversion programs including the Murri Court, the Drug Court and the Queensland Integrated Court referrals which expands the work of the former Special Circumstances Court Diversion Program, which was axed by the former Newman LNP Government.
The Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to address domestic and family violence is an area that receives particular attention through this budget.
“I can announce the Queensland Government will provide a further $54.6 million net in this budget over four years across the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to support domestic and family violence initiatives,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“This increases the Queensland Government’s overall package of spending to help prevent domestic and family violence by $198.2 million over five years, since the 2015-16 Budget.
“Funds will also be provided in this Budget to complete the independent evaluation of the specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court trial in Southport,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“This will inform future work in developing a state-wide and place-based specialist approach to domestic and family violence matters.
“The purpose of this trial is to provide a coordinated, consistent and timely response to domestic and family violence matters, enhance safety for victims of domestic violence, make perpetrators accountable for their violence, and to build stronger collaboration across the service system that supports the court.
“We also will support the Women’s Legal Services Helpline for victims of domestic violence, and establish a Queensland Sexual Assault Counselling Privilege legal assistance service.”