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Constant Improvement the Theme for Courts

Hon Rick Barker
Minister for Courts
Minister of Civil Defence
Minister of Internal Affairs
Minister of Veterans' Affairs

26 May 2006 Media Statement

Constant Improvement the Theme for Courts

Minister for Courts Rick Barker today announced that Budget 2006 has delivered increased funding to courts through a variety of initiatives designed to support the operational effectiveness and efficiency of all courts.

“A package of funding targeting technology, property and operational infrastructure will deliver increased support to the day to day operations of the courts of New Zealand and continue our commitment to strengthening the needs of families and communities across the country,“ said Mr Barker.

The specific initiatives announced in the budget include:

Continuing to Improve the Property Infrastructure of Courts

Government has announced that it will:

- fund the replacement of the Timaru Courthouse at a cost of $12 million over four years;

- provide the Ministry of Justice with “seed” funding of $1.4 million in 2006/07 to develop a full business case, and more detailed estimates of the cost relating to proposed extensions to the Auckland High Court, Christchurch High/District and Nelson High/District Courts; and

- set aside $42 million over four years to extend the Christchurch High/District Court.

These funding increases reflect the Labour-led Government’s desire to lift the standard of courthouses up to a modern standard meeting the needs of New Zealand families and communities today and for the future," he said.

Investments in infrastructure since Budget 2005, continued this year, include:

- Replacement of the Greymouth High/District Court;

- Replacement of the Queenstown District Court;

- Replacement of the Levin District Court;

- Replacement of the Hastings District Court;

- Replacement of the Invercargill High/District Court, and

- Substantial additions to the Manukau District Court.

Seizing the proceeds and instruments of crime

$8.8 million over four years has been allocated for the implementation of the Criminal Proceeds and Instruments Bill.

Mr Barker says "this funding will deliver to courts the resources to process applications, provide hearings and make necessary systems changes to allow effective administration of this regime, whereby the proceeds and instruments of crime can be seized and sold".

It is expected that, in time, the proceeds of the sales of seized goods is expected to cover the costs of the program.

Improved targeting of fines defaulters

The government has allocated $1.9 million over four years to implement a system of electronic filing processes between those agencies and authorities issuing infringement notices and courts.

"The implementation of this system will simplify the processing of fines in order to enable large volumes of fines to be processed efficiently and effectively. This will enable more effective collection of fines by providing a more accurate record of unpaid fines," said Mr Barker.

Continue Evidence Recording and Transcription in the Environment court

Government has allocated $3 million over four years for the continued provision of electronic recording and transcription services for the Environment Court.

"In 2002/03 electronic evidence recording and transcription services were implemented in the Environment Court on a trial basis. Over time, we have seen progressive improvement in case load management in the Environment Court and I want to ensure this continues into the future," he said.

The funding for the trial was due to expire at the end of the fiscal year. The systems being trialled greatly improved efficiency and productivity in the court and this budget allocation enables the retention of the systems for the continuing efficient operation of the court.

"This is a Budget that delivers a Labour-led Government vision of competency, consistency and constant improvement and I am proud of what we have, are and will continue to deliver.

"This Budget continues our commitment to the strengthening of our families and communities in New Zealand, this continues our long term vision of a strong, healthy safe New Zealand and I'm proud of it," he said.

ENDS

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