NSW Shadow Attorney-General Paul Lynch has taken up the issue of steadily eroding court services in the Tumut area with the State Parliament, demanding an answer from the governing Liberal party.
Mr Lynch asked, “what is your response to the comments by magistrate Peter Dare reported in the Tumut and Adelong Times on 7 April 2017 concerning Government cost cutting and courthouse closures?” to the legislative assembly, with an answer due by June 13.
He said the government was trying to save money at the expense of necessary services for rural areas.
“Since coming to power, the government has significantly cut local court funding. This is based solely on Treasury driven cost cutting and not on community need,” Mr Lynch said.
“The Chief Magistrate has warned of the social cost of this short-sighted approach, especially in rural and regional areas. One of the government’s fundamental responsibilities is to provide basic services – including the justice system. This state government seems to have forgotten that.”
Mr Dare said the NSW government should not be cutting costs at regional court houses at the same time that they are highlighting their achievements in getting the state budget out of the red.
“Funding of courts should be based on community needs, not the arbitrary logic of accountants. This is especially the case when the government is drowning in rivers of gold from stamp duty and when they keep boasting of being such good economic managers,” he said.
Magistrate Peter Dare, the long-time magistrate for Tumut and surrounding areas, brought up the issue last month in the Tumut and Adelong Times and sister paper the Temora Times.
Mr Dare said that since he was retiring he was free to speak his mind, and suggested the government was trying to limit the opening times of smaller courts in an attempt to “whittle them down so they can close them.”
“Services are being eroded quite surreptitiously,” he said.
“And I believe the savings are quite illusory.
“People have nowhere else to turn – they turn up to the court house and the doors are closed.”