Labor hits out at $100m axing of asylum seeker legal funds
THE Federal Opposition has hit out at the Abbott Government's removal of $100 million in funding for legal advice for asylum seekers in Australia's detention centre network.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced the change on Monday, saying the election pledge would save taxpayers $100 million.
But he said the withdrawal of the legal advice for those held in detention did not "prevent those who arrived illegally" having access to legal advice.
Instead of direct access, the government would supply asylum seekers "clear instructions" setting out the asylum application and assessment process.
But Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the "mean spirited" announcement would only make matters worse, by "ripping away assistance for people who have been through traumatic experiences".
"The long-standing program provides legal assistance and advice to asylum seekers, including help completing arrival documentation," he said.
"This is an unfair and harsh announcement from a government with twisted priorities."
Mr Morrison said the changes would also mean access to any private or pro bono legal advice would be "facilitated" by the Immigration Department.