Western Australian magistrates are to have a major new court building, subject to final negotiations between the State and Commonwealth Governments.
Under a plan announced by Attorney General Joe Berinson today, the former Australian Taxation Office at 1 St George's Terrace would be substantially refurbished to house the Perth Magistrates Court.
Mr Berinson said the move was part of a concerted effort to upgrade the State's congested court facilities.
"Upgrading the taxation office would consolidate the existing 22 Perth magistrates courts which are now in two buildings and provide room for further expansion," Mr Berinson said.
"The Perth Magistrates Court is the State's busiest, dealing with more than 72,000 criminal charges and 40,000 civil matters in the past year."
Mr Berinson said an unprecedented workload in all courts had resulted in increasingly urgent requirements for extra court accommodation.
"The Perth Magistrates Court, located in the Central Law Courts complex, has spilled over into the May Holman Centre in St George's Terrace," he said.
The Supreme Court would also shortly establish courtrooms and facilities for its probate section in converted office space.
"These are ad hoc arrangements to provide temporary relief and it is essential that long term additional space should be provided as soon as possible."
Mr Berinson said that with appropriate alterations, the former Australian Taxation Office would be ideal for Perth magistrates' requirements.
"It is inside the legal precinct and the central business district, is readily accessible to the public and can accommodate all foreseeable requirements for at least the next 20 years."
He said the move would also allow the District Court, which has reached the utmost limit of its present space, to use the whole Central Law Courts building.
Other recent measures to meet the needs of the courts included:
· The new $7.6 million four-courtroom Joondalup court facility due to open next year;
· the new East Perth Children's Court complex which opened in June this year and;
· a new Family Court/Federal Court complex due for completion early 1993.
"The courts are now assisted by the provision of facilities which allow video-taping of police interviews; closed circuit television for court evidence; computerisation of court listings and the use of advanced imaging technology in complex fraud cases," Mr Berinson said.