Commonwealth overhauls legal services

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The Australian Government Solicitor has been consolidated into the Attorney-General’s Department ahead of a review into the provision of legal advice to the government. 

“Consolidation will result in a department that is the single source of authoritative advice on key Commonwealth legal and legal policy issues, and is well-placed to deliver on the core legal business of the Commonwealth and the most critical matters of state,” said a statement released by the Attorney-General’s office last week.

The Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, Chris Moraitis PSM, will begin a review of Commonwealth legal services to better organise legal advice given to the government, including the examination of in-house legal practices within Commonwealth departments and agencies.

“The decision to consolidate is a good and sensible one, bringing together the best in legal services and legal policy advice.  We will continue to excel in the range of functions we perform, but now as a consolidated department I am confident that we will be able to achieve even more,” said Moraitis in a statement.

“I believe the AGS-AGD consolidation has strengthened our capacity to provide the Attorney-General, the Cabinet, the Government more broadly, and our clients with a comprehensive source of authoritative advice on key legal and legal policy issues, and deliver on the core legal business of the Commonwealth and the most critical matters of state.”

The consolidation of the AGS into the Attorney-General’s Department, which was officially implemented on the 1st of July, will continue to have its own independent functional identity with lawyers now working as part of the Australian Government Solicitor Group within the department. 

“The expertise and experience of our lawyers will continue to be available to serve our clients with the professionalism they have come to expect,” said Ian Govey, the Australian Government Solicitor. 

“Our time as a Government Business Enterprise certainly sharpened our commercial sensibilities, and increased our responsiveness to the needs of our clients.  Client care has become a fundamental aspect of AGS's corporate culture, and it will certainly remain so.”

The consolidation implements decisions made as part of the Government’s Smaller Government Reform Agenda.