Justice is only for the rich in NZ

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Legal aid to be accessible to 90,000 more people

“Community law centres and the legal aid scheme are the key ways for providing free or low cost legal assistance to people who can not afford it,” she said.

“The changes mean an extra 93,000 more people will be eligible for legal aid from January 2023.”

The $149 million funding came from Budget 2022. It increases the income eligibility threshold by 15%, removes the $50 legal aid charge and scraps interest charged.

“Concerns have rightly been raised about the low eligibility threshold – for a single applicant this is currently just over half of what a fulltime worker on the minimum wage receives – the $50 user charge, debt repayment and interest on legal aid grants.

“This will improve access to legal assistance for low-income New Zealanders and reduce debts incurred as a result for seeking that assistance,” Allan said.

“These changes mean real help for the people who need it most.”

The debt repayment threshold will go up 16.5% and lawyers will get a 12% increase in their hourly rate from July 1.

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Hilariously the ‘Lady of Justice’ has been cancelled which is kinda fitting because justice in NZ has been cancelled for the poor.

The manner in which the State butchered Legal Aid to denigrate the industry and force massive change that irreparably harmed working people’s access to justice.

Now Legal Aid is given as a loan, working people and the lower middle classes are forced to plead guilty just to avoid the enslavement of debt.

This debt despicably had interest charged on it!

To her credit, the new Minister has at least removed that cruelty, but it’s still a justice system for the rich if working people and the lower middle classes are forced to take on debt to defend charges by a State that has an unlimited budget.

Legal Aid should be free to ensure people aren’t pressured economically into pleading guilty and while we are at it, people who have their children uplifted should have access to legal aid as well.

Waiving a $50 fee, raising debt repayment thresholds and ending interest on legal aid debt is barely recognising the true negative impact of forcing poor people into choosing debt over justice.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Even someone on the hard right like me can only but laugh at the dickheadedness of having a fee for getting legal aid.

    We are a fucked up little country…..

  2. Sounds like Student Loans…… they cancelled the medical students and registered nurses who either have not enough training places to become a doctor (only 539 medical places in the entire NZ) and new nurses paid less than cleaners after a 3 year paid degree in NZ.

    For a massive multiple of that, we can then pretend to import in these skills, while actually getting hundreds of thousands of migrants with even less skills like assistant bakers, fast food, retail and support assistants who need the NZ doctors and nurses and teachers and houses and cars and social services, just like everyone else.

  3. Any entity (particularly Crown and police) that brings charges in a court of law and subsequently loses the case in court should pay all costs, including and especially those of the defendant.

    • Absolutely bang on there @ Richard Christie, far to many people having to defend themselves( particularly against the state) and found innocent but left with a helluva dept, This is what I fear will happen with those caught up in the White Island tragedy who tried to help!

    • I believe we should have a system where if the person is found guilty they can appeal…as it is now, but with a change….if the appeal fails the sentence is increased by a %age.
      As it stands the losing lawyer still gets paid, then still gets paid when they push for an appeal, after all what has the convicted person going to care (as it stands)….let’s see if the convicted person actually agrees to an appeal if the same verdict is reached and sentence increased….now there in one law change would stop the lawyers earning from the taxpayer for most times a no win appeal and the courts get less clogged with frivolous appeals as I guarantee most convicted would NOT go for an appeal (especially if they bloody know they are guilty as most are)

  4. Look at one stage we had thousand of NZ nurses fresh out of school no jobs cause the National lot brought in thousand of Philpino Nurses now why would you do that aye!

  5. ” forcing poor people into choosing debt over justice ”

    Is that not what neo liberalisim is all about ! Justice joins the long list of so many unfair and cruel injustices of one market to rule them all.

  6. The service charges are bad enough. The simple fact is that if you aren’t upper-middle class +, you probably don’t even know what rights you might be able to utilize when threatened with a civil or criminal case, whether via legal aid or another means.

    Ghloe Swarbrick talks a big game about civics education to enable 16 year olds (people who need parental consent to do actually important stuff like get married or drink) to vote. How about civics education so that 16 year olds know NOT TO TALK TO THE POLICE?

    • John W – I have found over my lifetime that it is important to be reticent in talking to anybody who has power over you, to withhold, restrain etc. Even parents can go off on a path of unreasonable prejudice but hopefully if you keep cool you can explain yourself and get a better judgment. And that becomes doubly important if children are encouraged to disagree with parents, and report them for misdemeanours to authorities as in wartime Germany.

      So that would result in treating teenagers as people with rationality which requires a change in our education to start teaching intermediate youngsters about philosophy, citizenship, how to make decisions, mine a way through information to assist in that, different political systems and that none can be perfect because of diverse opinions, and how to find a way to go forward together. Don’t wait till 16. We are doing our children a disservice in keeping them stuck in a 20th century concept that the adults have everything under rational control. But they can’t just be granted adult level status till they have better early education than we have had. Start the education now and not just for the children of the nouveau riche and landed gentry which seems to be where we are fast heading.

  7. As with the recent Cannabis debacle which now has pot legally prescribed for $1000/oz, (but imprisonment for growing your own) a plotline that could have be taken from ‘ The New Statesman’ and a need of some form of judicial enquiry following the money trail; Justice in NZ is again sold to the highest bidder.

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