Court concerns continue

CONCERN: Shadow Attorney-General Kyam Maher (left) and Member for Giles Eddie Hughes say government cuts to the criminal justice system could see the closure of the Whyalla Magistrates Court.
CONCERN: Shadow Attorney-General Kyam Maher (left) and Member for Giles Eddie Hughes say government cuts to the criminal justice system could see the closure of the Whyalla Magistrates Court.

Labor have continued to air their concerns that courts in the Upper Spencer Gulf are under threat of closing as a result of potential cuts to the criminal justice system by the state government.

The Courts Administration Authority has been travelling to regional centres, such as Whyalla, to investigate budget cuts.

Shadow Attorney-General Kyam Maher was joined by Member for Giles Eddie Hughes at the Whyalla Magistrates Court today to keep the pressure on the Marshall Government to rule out closing country courts.

Mr Maher said he had heard 'loud and clear' from the residents of Whyalla that they don't want the court to close.

"They don't want budget cuts from Steven Marshall to remove their access to justice," he said.

Closure of the court would likely cause Whyalla cases to be heard in Port Augusta, meaning those without means of travel would be unable to attend.

Mr Maher says criminal offenders may not be convicted if witnesses can't attend their court case or if victims decide to drop their case due to delays.

"Removing the Whyalla courthouse would make Whyalla less safe," he said.

"Lawyers come to regional areas because there are courts. They get court experience and they can also represent their clients much more easily.

"If you see courthouses close down you're going to see lawyers move away and that's not good for the people of Whyalla."

Member for Giles Eddie Hughes had written to Attorney-General Vickie Chapman asking her to rule out closing the Whyalla Magistrates Court.

"I have received a response and she has not ruled it out," he said.

The state government have maintained that no final decisions have been taken in regards to the upcoming State Budget, but government agencies have been asked to identify potential savings in the next financial year due to a significant write-down in GST revenue.

Whether the cuts to the criminal justice system go ahead will be revealed when the State Budget is released in June.