The result of cuts to legal aid and court services, following years of law and order auctions, have resulted in an extraordinary blowout in the budget with a shocking $3.8 billion being spent on private prisons.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“Premier Mike Baird is doing everything he can to push up the prison population in NSW by cutting millions from both legal aid and the courts.

“We know that court delays are a primary reason why more people are jailed on remand awaiting trial and this will only get worse as the Coalition cuts millions more from the courts.

“The taxpayers of NSW are being slugged extraordinary amounts to build new (private) prisons as a result of these failed policies.

“The deep cuts to prison education are playing out in this budget that predicts fewer inmates receiving vital second chance education to enable them to re-enter society and gain

employment upon their release.

“The cuts to legal aid follow years of budget cuts to an agency that is already unable to meet demand for services, meaning thousands more vulnerable people will lose access to justice.

“Rather than funnelling money into private prisons we need to be funding justice reinvestment programs and increasing access to legal representation through community legal centres and legal aid.

“While courts, education and legal aid are being cut, the police get $42 million for new paramilitary equipment and vehicles,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Fast facts – Justice Cluster

  • $3.8 billion to build 7,000 new prison beds
  • Police will receive $29 million for the Marine Area Command vessel fleet, $13 million for a new plane and two new helicopters, $550,000 for a new “Bearcat” armoured vehicle
  • Cuts to the Legal Aid Commission with $2.8 million from criminal law services and $4 million from civil law services
  • NSW Courts budget reduced more than $10 million
  • Inmate participation in education programs down from 35% to 28%