The ACT government has failed community legal centres by refusing to support a motion in the territory's parliament calling for an ongoing funding commitment, the opposition says.
But Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday afternoon the ACT government could not support the motion before funding was considered in budget cabinet processes.
"I cannot stand here and guarantee to this Assembly the cabinet process will have this resolved in the next seven days," Mr Rattenbury said.
Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee moved the motion calling on the ACT government to "provide funding certainty for [Canberra Community Law] within the next seven days".
Ms Lee's motion called on the Assembly to note that Canberra Community Law had provided free legal services to Canberrans on low incomes for 30 years and it would face a funding shortfall at the end of the month.
But it was defeated by Labor and the Greens, who supported Mr Rattenbury's amendment that called on the federal government to recommit funding to the community legal sector.
"The ACT government will make funding decisions regarding the ACT's legal assistance sector as part of its 2021-22 Budget process, and advise the sector as soon as practical," the amended motion said.
Ms Lee said in a statement after the debate that Mr Rattenbury's response to the community legal sector was disrespectful.
"There is less than one month to go until funding runs out and for the Attorney-General to refuse to provide assurance; to refuse to provide certainty for the future of vital legal services is heartless and cruel," Ms Lee said.
"These are services provided by Canberrans, for Canberrans in Canberra and failing to provide certainty of funding for these shows a complete lack of respect for the work these organisations do."
Canberra Community Law director Genevieve Bolton told The Canberra Times last month the centre was under the pump and faced a funding shortfall of $500,000 after June 30.
Ms Bolton said the shortfall meant four solicitors' positions would be lost while demand was undiminished.
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