The Tasmanian State Government recently released its 2023/24 budget, outlining key deliverables for the legal sector. The budget includes funding for various initiatives but falls short in providing significant increases in funding compared to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
One notable allocation is the funding for the Burnie Court complex, which has been committed until the end of 2026/27, with a total investment of $86.5 million. Additionally, $2.8 million has been allocated to replace the existing CRIMES interface and facilitate the transfer of information between courts and Tasmania Police following the implementation of Astria.
However, concerns arise regarding the Legal Assistance Sector Support funding, where there is a considerable decrease in funding projected for 2025/26. It remains unclear which projects will continue to receive funding at that point. Furthermore, the budget notes suggest that funding for Legal Assistance Sector Support will be completed by 2026/27, raising concerns about the future availability of resources in this critical area. It is uncertain whether the government plans to re-evaluate this decision or intends to rely on a Solicitors Guarantee Fund excess to finance these projects.
The budget also includes provisions for the Supreme Court, Magistrates Court, Tasmania Legal Aid, Legal Assistance, and TASCAT. These allocations show slight changes in funding levels over the years, with some fluctuations and adjustments due to factors such as the completion of national legal assistance partnerships and the need for renegotiation with the Commonwealth.
Overall, while the budget includes some positive aspects such as the Burnie Court complex and CRIMES interface replacement, the limited increases in funding for the legal sector and the potential cessation of support for the Legal Assistance Support programs raise concerns about the sector’s ability to meet growing demands and ensure access to justice for all Tasmanians.