There's been a kerfuffle this week about the Government spending $10 million on defending convicted terrorists. The gist of the complaint is that the people in question didn't qualify for Legal Aid, and even if they did, the defense they got involved QCs and was way over and above what Legal Aid would have been able to provide.
So there's a big hoo-har about spending tax-payer money on criminals blah blah blah. I can't help thinking they've missed the point. The question is not whether the criminals deserved this defense, the question is why the Government felt the need to provide it. Terrorism is an international issue, and combatting it is fraught with risks of persecution and loss of personal freedom. It is important for a Labor Government to be seen to be only convicting people who represent a genuine threat. This alone, however, doesn't really explain why they felt they needed to provide literally the best defense money can buy.
I am now going to move into wild speculation - could it be that the Government has little faith in the AFP to bring just cases against people? They haven't exactly had a good track record, and rather than face another humiliation, the Government may have decided to pay someone else to keep the AFP in check.
I have no evidence for this, but if I was on the Senate Estimates Committee, that's the question I'd be asking - who was the Government protecting from whom, and why?