VICTORIA’S Attorney-General gave Bendigo’s court buildings the once-over yesterday.
Attorney-General Robert Clark toured the Bendigo Law Courts yesterday morning before meeting with lawyers, representatives from Victoria Police and various other user groups.
Mr Clark’s visit was in response to a Bendigo Law Association investigation that found the current heritage-listed facilities to be “woefully” inadequate for lawyers, victims and offenders.
“It is a serious problem,” Mr Clark said.
“It’s one of a number that we have inherited from the previous government with inadequate facilities that haven’t properly been looked after for quite a few years.
“I wanted to come up and see first-hand exactly what the situation was, to have a look at the facilities, to hear from lawyers, to hear from police, prosecutors, Legal Aid, those sort of groups to see what the particular challenges they are facing and what the options might be.
“I’ve spoken to a number of the judges and magistrates, registry staff, and discussed problems about the inadequacies of the different court rooms, issues with the movement of victims and prisoners ... problems with prisoner movement between the police station and the courthouse.”
Mr Clark said it was important any proposed solutions did not create further problems.
Whether or not other buildings could be used for the short-term also needed to be considered, he said.
“Are there ways they can be reconfigured, or upgraded and, in the long-term, is there a suitable alternative site that could be built into our long-term planning?
“Some practitioners have said the old Bendigo Advertiser site would be a suitable one for a courthouse, but others say it’s important that a new courthouse be located near a police station. So there are a lot of competing considerations and the important thing for long term planning is to make sure we get it right.”