The prime minster has hit out at the news that taxpayer funds are being used to challenge government laws after it was revealed Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis’ appeals to the High Court were likely funded through legal aid at a cost of more than $100,000.
Monis and his partner Amirah Droudis made two High Court challenges to his conviction for sending offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
The self-appointed “Sheik Haron” was charged in 2011 with 12 offences of using a postal service in a way that a reasonable person would find menacing, harassing or offensive.
The couple made two challenges, claiming they had an implied constitutional right to free speech but last Friday the court dismissed their challenge.
It was Monis’ second challenge to the conviction after his first appeal lead to a split decision in February 2013, meaning the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal’s ruling would be upheld.
The challenges were reportedly funded by legal aid with News Corp calculating a cost of $120,000 to taxpayers for both the defence and the prosecution.
Speaking on Sydney’s 2GB this morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it “infuriates” him and that it was “not right” that taxpayers fund challenges to in the High Court.
“We have any number of cases going through the courts which appear to be one way or another publicly funded cases and it’s almost like taxpayers are funding attacks on taxpayers and this is not right,” Mr Abbott said.
“Obviously people are entitled to go to the law but why they are entitled to go to the law with taxpayer-funding when they are essentially attacking public policy — when they are essentially attacking the policy of the elected government — I think is something which again exasperates and sometimes infuriates the public and frankly sometimes infuriates me.”
In March the Abbott Government scrapped legal aid funding for asylum seekers who challenge the Department of Immigration’s refusal to grant refugee visas.
The Refugee Council of Australia said the government’s decision said it could lead to genuine refugees being returned to countries where they could face danger or death.
ninemsn has contacted NSW Legal Aid for comment regarding the funding of Monis’ High Court challenges.
Conditsis Lawyers, the firm that recently represented Monis, have also been contacted for comment.