This is not just the sector asking for more money – the Productivity Commission has recommended an annual boost in legal assistance services funding by $200M to meet the growing need for services. In part, this is because unresolved legal issues simply end up costing Government more in the long run.
Since 2009, the electricity networks that own and manage our “poles and wires” have spent over $45 billion upgrading the electricity system. It is everyday households that are repaying the cost of this investment, with interest, through our energy bills. This has been the major driver to energy prices doubling over recent years.
Currently, a debt of just $5000 can allow creditors to bankrupt Australians in financial difficulty. Along the way, charges, trustee fees and other legal fees imposed can add tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to the initial debt. The threshold, in place since 2010, is far too low and in many cases gives creditors the power to force the sale of the family home to recover what started out as a reasonably small debt to a credit card provider or utility company.
Reforms have been legislated to curb the most extreme excesses in the VET sector, but these do little for the Australians (potentially in the hundreds of thousands) who were duped or coerced into enrolling into a course, leaving them with nothing but a VET FEE-HELP debt. All uncompleted VET FEE-HELP linked courses should be investigated to determine if the sale of the course was genuine.