Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4446 ..
The project is being delivered in two main stages. Stage 1, which, I am pleased to announce, officially reached technical completion on 25 September 2018, includes the new four-storey building fronting Vernon Circle, refurbishment and reconfiguration works in the existing Magistrates Court building, and a new entrance foyer linking the two existing buildings. While I am sure that members will have noticed that some of the facade facing Vernon Circle is still missing, I am advised that the arrival of the missing cosmetic panels is imminent.
Stage 1 was moved into over the weekend of 13 and 14 October this year, with its first official use on 15 October a ceremonial sitting to mark the pending retirement of the Director of Public Prosecutions. This sitting was, importantly, preceded by a smoking ceremony conducted by Ngunnawal elder Adrian Brown to prepare the building for use with cultural integrity.
Stage 1 of the ACT courts project features six new courtrooms, including five jury courtrooms, new judges chambers, an extensive new library, a new public entry serving both the magistrates and supreme courts, and contemporary jury facilities. The new foyer includes two magnificent large-scale artworks, a cafe and a modernised security clearance area. Jury access and circulation have been carefully designed to be private and secure, meaning that jurors no longer have to move through public areas whilst serving. The court registry area has also been fully refurbished, bringing these areas up to modern standards. All jury deliberation rooms have access to outdoor spaces, comfortable furnishings and inbuilt technology to assist in reviewing evidence.
The new facilities feature a dedicated remote witness zone with seven new videoconference suites and waiting areas for the comfort, privacy and safety of those giving evidence. The remote witness suites each have a family room attached, catering for witnesses who may have children in their care, and extend into informal spaces and kitchen facilities for their convenience.
New technology is a major feature of the new courts, with all courtrooms equipped with state-of-the-art systems that allow multimedia evidence to be broadcast to all participants and the public gallery simultaneously. In addition, we now have the ability for in-court and remote witnesses to use touchscreen annotation of electronic evidence in real time to augment verbal evidence during proceedings. The ACT is the first jurisdiction in Australia to provide this technology in all of its courtrooms and remote witness rooms.
The new facilities have been welcomed by the judiciary and the legal profession. The building as a whole will achieve a five-star green star rating and has an abundance of natural light throughout the complex, including in the new courtrooms. The new facility will enable efficient access to justice, particularly given the greater number of jury courtrooms.
The construction of stage 1 has presented some challenges for the courts given the proximity of the building work to the existing courts. I thank the judiciary, both magistrates and judges, for their patience, their cooperation and their support during this period. However, it is important to note that during the construction phase for