When it was revealed last year that taxpayers had shelled out more than $825 million on lawyers in 2016-17, Attorney-General Christian Porter said he was “taking a particular interest in the expenditure of funds on legal services, applying very close scrutiny to each and every application that comes before me for approval.”
That being the case, one wonders how he can justify approving over $288,000 in legal costs (so far) for Michaelia Cash when all she has done is provide the police with a copy of Hansard and then turn up for one day in court to say “refer to what I said in Hansard”.
Cash is not facing any charges, she was merely a witness who had nothing to say. So why does she need a defence team?
And let’s not forget how much Cash’s stellar decision to appoint Nigel Hadgkiss as head of the new ABCC cost us despite being aware that he was facing charges of breaching the Fair Work Act himself. His ultimately unsuccessful defence cost a staggering $436,000 in legal fees paid for by us.
The previous Attorney-General, George Brandis, spent three year’s fighting to keep his ministerial diary secret at a cost to taxpayers of over $168,000, just to avoid showing he had not met with community stakeholders before he slashed legal aid.
We have also paid out millions in compensation to people the government has harmed including the Save the Children staff defamed by our current PM and $70 million (plus costs) to the men illegally incarcerated on Manus Island.
And there are more to come.
In January last year it was reported that “A backlog of 26 compensation claims from asylum seekers and the Immigration department’s own staff cost the government $230,000 in legal fees and “case management costs” last financial year” despite none of them having been resolved.
At Senate estimates last October, the Department of Home Affairs also revealed it has spent almost half a million dollars in legal fees in three months responding to court applications for urgent medical transfers of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru.
These few examples are by no means exhaustive, just an indication of how willing this government is to waste money to avoid scrutiny and to defend the indefensible.
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