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Consultation On Courthouse Cuts A Sham

12 March 2002

The Government's turning a blind eye to justice in small towns with its push to close or downgrade 13 courthouses around the country, says National's Associate Regional Development spokesman, Shane Ardern.

"The anger and disbelief of many small communities has been highlighted by the presentation of a 9000-signature petition to Parliament today, calling for the Rangiora courthouse to be kept open.

"Regional Development Minister, Jim Anderton, travels the country trumpeting the regional development cause, but he's unfazed that axing courthouse services will deny nearly a quarter of a million New Zealanders reasonable access to justice.

"The community consultation process is a sham. Meetings organised by the Corrections Department have been poorly advertised and interested groups have been left out. The Government's just hellbent on ramming these changes through.

"Even the proposed cost savings are a farce. I've been told that downgrading courthouses to hearing centres will save around $30-40 thousand per centre. But this will quickly disappear as police, JP's and corrections staff rack up travel and other related costs associated with not having a local courthouse in the town," says Mr Ardern.


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