COURTING VOTES: MP David Batt, lawyer Edwina Rowan and Opposition justice spokesman David Janetzki outside Bundaberg Courthouse today.
COURTING VOTES: MP David Batt, lawyer Edwina Rowan and Opposition justice spokesman David Janetzki outside Bundaberg Courthouse today. Katie Hall

Call for new courthouse to be built in Bundy

A NEW courthouse for Bundaberg would mean greater security services and modern facilities for court staff and victims, according to Opposition justice spokesman David Janetzki.

Mr Janetzki yesterday spoke in Bundaberg, saying that a new courthouse built next to the police station would be a priority under an LNP government.

He said the courthouse on Quay St should not be refurbished.

"It is good to hear the government is considering allocating $1.8 million to the refurbishment of the courthouse. However, in an environment where the courthouse is so dated and so cramped - the judiciary is concerned about it - it is timely that consideration be given to moving the courthouse to where it was always meant to be; right near the police station, and better spend that money that has been allocated,” Mr Janetzki said.

"There is a long distance between the courthouse and police station, and now what we're seeing is that ... precious police resources are being spent securing this facility and transferring offenders between the two locations.”

Mr Janetzki did not say when the LNP would build a new courthouse.

The next election is due in October 2020.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the "LNP have their priorities all wrong”, and that money spent on a new courthouse would be better placed "into new schools, hospitals and police” for the region.

"The LNP say this is a priority under them - Bundaberg locals would prefer that sort of money going into our schools, hospitals and frontline services like police - not a flash new building,” Ms D'Ath said.

"Mr Janetzki can't say how they will fund it or when they will build it. This is grandstanding from David Batt (Bundaberg MP), David Janetzki and the LNP.

"Labor is spending $1.8 million on refurbishment work to the Bundaberg courthouse which will be completed by 2020.

"Unlike the LNP, we have committed funding and have a project that has a start and finish date.”

Last month, a District Court judge was critical of Bundaberg Courthouse.

Judge William Everson said the courthouse, built in 1958, was basic and pointed out the "relatively small area where the jury panel, members of the public and the defendant all enter and possibly congregate” in the courthouse.

"In the courtroom there is no seating for prospective reserve jurors ... and the courtroom itself is small and dated.

"(And) the police station is some distance from the courthouse, making it more difficult to maintain an appropriate security presence.”

A Department of Justice spokesman said the courthouse was expected to undergo renovations next year.

"The Department has allocated up to $1.8 million to undertake refurbishment work to the Bundaberg Courthouse. It is currently in the early design stage with consideration being given to the exact scope of the project,” the spokesman said.

Member for Bundaberg David Batt said he was "fighting for a new courthouse”, and needed facilities would be brought to Bundaberg by the LNP.

Lawyer Edwina Rowan, the chair of domestic and family violence service Edon Place, said the Quay St cells were not "adequate” for defendants coming to court.

"The courthouse itself is in very poor condition and there is significant mould damage ... it is in a very poor state and it needs urgent and significant attention,” Ms Rowan said.

She said a new courthouse next to the police station would make increased security possible, and minimise delays in the court system.



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