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Court building benefiting communities

3 December 2006

Court building benefiting communities

Communities continue to benefit from the Government's investment in courts, Courts Minister Rick Barker said today.

Rick Barker said the Labour-led Government's investment in courts is no better exemplified than by what's happening in the South Island, where court facilities in every region are being improved.

"In November I opened the Queenstown Courthouse. The new Courthouse is eight times bigger than its predecessor and means the community no longer have to leave Queenstown to attend Family and Civil court cases", said Rick Barker.

"Early next year I will officially open the new $6 million courthouse in Greymouth. As was the case in Queenstown, work is running ahead of schedule and within budget.

"In Invercargill concept planning for the new courthouse has been completed and initial consultation with stakeholders has commenced.

"In the 2006 Budget, funding was approved to build a new courthouse in Timaru and planning has commenced to progress the concept plans with the appointed architect.

"As well as building new courts, we're carrying out major renovations to make courts function more effectively.

"The Blenheim Courthouse addition and refurbishment, which we expect to finish in May 2007, will have three operational courtrooms as opposed to one, and will have more flexibility to respond to increasing workloads across jurisdictions.

"For the Christchurch High and District Court, high level preliminary planning is underway for major additions and refurbishments that will support the future requirements of the area.

"In Nelson a needs analysis has been completed which will determine the scope of work needed for major additions to the Nelson Courthouse. Planning has commenced and at this stage work is anticipated to begin this summer.

"Some communities are already benefiting from our investments. We've carried out a $12.5million renovation of the historic Dunedin Courthouse, and have completed major refurbishments in Oamaru, Rangiora and Ashburton. And the introduction of our deferred maintenance programme has led to much needed improvements at courthouses in Westport, Gore, Alexandra, Balclutha and Kaikoura.

"And of course our work is not just limited to the South Island. Throughout New Zealand we have completed five new courthouses and 27 major courthouse refurbishments since 1999. Five courthouses are currently being built, and nine more major refurbishments either planned or underway.

"Our building programme is further proof that after years of neglect our courts are bouncing back.

"We're also investing in cutting edge technology to improve the court experience. We have extended the use of videoconferencing; we're introducing digital audio technology to 44 courts; and we're developing a new national transcription service.

"Our courts play a key role in ensuring access to justice for communities. The Labour-led Government's investment in courts infrastructure is lifting the standard of courthouses across New Zealand and ensuring that the needs of families and communities are met today and in the future", said Rick Barker.

ENDS


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