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Plans for new courts precinct abandoned

19-Mar-2015

Plan for new courts precinct in Adelaide abandoned, SA State Government confirms

A multi-million dollar plan to redevelop the courts precinct in Adelaide's CBD has been abandoned, the South Australian Government has confirmed.

Construction on the $500 million project was due to start early this year, and the precinct was supposed to be up and running in Victoria Square in 2017.

Three groups of companies put forward proposals to fund and build the courts precinct under a model where the Government would agree to rent the courtrooms on a long-term lease.

One gets one's hopes up after all these years of having to deal with the court system as it is ... but particularly the judges themselves, they're working in dilapidated buildings and conditions.

The process was later narrowed down to Lend Lease with negotiations with the State Government locked for months.

Lend Lease released a statement which said they were aware of the decision by the State Government to terminate the courts precinct renewal process but said it did not reflect on the high quality of their proposal.

A statement from the Attorney-General's office said the plans for the project did not provide enough value for money. 

"The actual build proposed was fit for purpose, however it did not achieve the value for money proposition needed by Government for the project to go ahead," the statement said. 

"Further consideration of a courts precinct development and IT provision will now occur in the context of budget deliberations."

Law Society president Rocco Perrotta said he was disappointed the much-needed upgrade would not be going ahead.

"One gets one's hopes up after all these years of having to deal with the court system as it is, and particularly the IT system," Mr Perotta said.

"But particularly the judges themselves, they're working in dilapidated buildings and conditions.

"It can't be an efficient environment in which to work."

Mr Perrotta said the Law Society hoped the Government would at least stay on track on updating the IT system.

State Government considering other options

Attorney-General John Rau said the original proposal was to organise an appropriate building to accommodate the future needs of the courts at an affordable and reasonable price.

"We wound up with a proposition which basically ticked the boxes as far an appropriate solution to our requirements, but in the end didn't stack up as a value for money proposition, when compared with an alternative of a more conventional funding model," he said.

"Ultimately our view was that it would not be a responsible allocation of taxpayers' funds to continue with that funding model."

Mr Rau said the Government accepted the current infrastructure was "inadequate, decaying and not fit for purpose for even medium-term requirements of the courts".

But he said they were no longer contemplating going out for another tender process which involved a public private partnership arrangement.

"There is no change in the fundamental position which is that the existing infrastructure is in urgent need of attention and replacement and this is not a decision which means we will not be proceeding at any time with something," he said. 

Mr Rau said the failed project had cost the Government $300,000 on a scoping study.

Read the original article by ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-12/major-courts-redevelopment-for-adelaide-abandoned/

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