AUSTRALIAN TAXPAYERS spent more than $10 million on legal aid for nine accused terrorists, a Senate inquiry has heard.
Five of the nine were convicted in a Sydney trial.
Up until September 2009, the total cost of the defence was $10.117 million.
In comparison, Tasmania's entire legal aid budget, not including spending on community legal centres, was $11.4 million during the 2008/09 financial year.
The total federal legal aid budget last financial year sat at $527 million.
Tasmanian Liberal senator Guy Barnett revealed the information when questioning officials from the Human Rights Commission during an estimates hearing of the Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee on Monday.
"Legal Aid New South Wales has advised the department that as at 30 September 2009 it has incurred costs of $10.117 million in the provision of legal assistance to the co-accused in this matter,'' the answer said.
Later, Senator Barnett voiced concerns about "the thousands'' of Australians not able to access legal aid.
"I think most Australians would be shocked to realise that over $10 million in taxpayers' funds has been spent defending the rights of nine terrorists,'' Senator Barnett said.
The men were arrested at the height of tensions over warnings of a domestic terrorist attack, which had provoked emergency sittings of the parliament to pass tougher counter-terrorism laws.
At the time, then prime minister John Howard had warned of an imminent attack with fears centred on Melbourne.
Police initially arrested 15 people across Melbourne and six in Sydney in a series of early morning raids in early November 2005.
The money for the legal defence came from a budget section inside the Attorney-General's Department known as the Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund.
The dedicated fund was established for Commonwealth criminal law cases to ensure that the cost of the trials did not impact on the level of funding available for other matters including family law.
even though these mutts have houses and huge cash in the bank none had jobs so qualified as poor, while farmers fighting legakl action against Monsanto accused of stealing IP that has not yet been released got zero assistance
This is what the world is coming too
a terrorist has more rights than anyone
big companies by legal action force people to use thier products but dont have to provide proof, they just send you broke in court appearance costs
if you upset a gay person you pay in the millions
and all for asking whats up your ar**, a common aussie term if someone is upset,
and if your church patronage sings too loud the local drunks can sue and get compensated for being woken on a Sunday morning from thier hangovers before 10 am
any wonder i'm becoming a cranky old fart ??