Parliament to debate family violence laws

A funding boost for Legal Aid is vital for new measures to prevent abusive partners from cross-examining their partners in court, Labor says.

Debate is set to continue in federal parliament on Tuesday, with Labor seeking to amend the legislation to ensure adequate funding for Legal Aid to take on the extra workload.

The bill bans people who have been accused of violence against their partners from cross-examining them, making it a requirement for them to have a lawyer to instead conduct the questioning.

Labor MP Graham Perrett says the changes are “useless” without a Legal Aid funding boost.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus told parliament on Monday there was “nothing left in the tank” at Legal Aid offices around the country, with lawyers concerned a lack of funding would prevent the ban from working effectively.

Liberal MP Jason Falinksi says the government is working with Legal Aid to assess resourcing issues and ensure adequate funding is available.

“We can ensure the trauma does not continue and victims can seek appropriate services,” Mr Falinksi told parliament.

Independent Cathy McGowan shared the story of a woman known as Eleanor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who was cross-examined by a former abusive partner.

“It was a massive slap in the face, how could they give my rapist his power back over me?” Ms McGowan read from Eleanor’s letter.

Independent MP Bob Katter has indicated he will support Labor’s amendment to take the legal changes a step further.

© AAP 2018


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