The Federal Government recently announced substantial increases in fees to be paid to both the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court in respect of family law cases. The legal profession through both the Law Council of Australia and the various state representative bodies (including the Law Institute of Victoria) has voiced opposition to the fee increases as they will seriously prejudice access to justice, especially for less affluent members of the community. The Government sought to introduce fee increases on an earlier occasion, but the proposal was rejected by the Senate. It has threatened that if the increases are not approved on this occasion, savings will be made by closing court registries and not replacing six judges who have retired. Either or both would have a serious effect on access to justice and the timely delivery of court services.
This is just another case of governments (of both persuasions) consistently refusing to adequately resource the federal courts, and to properly fund legal aid so as to enable access to those courts.
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