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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 February 2015) . . Page.. 483 ..

The territory is currently in the request for proposal phase of procurement. RFP documentation was released to the two bid teams prior to Christmas last year. To ensure that the bid teams have the opportunity to clarify and understand the requirements of the RFP the territory has commenced the interactive tender workshop phase. Both bid teams have taken up regular opportunities to meet with the territory to discuss the development of their concepts and designs and to seek clarification and feedback to better understand the requirements of the project. It is expected that the RFP process will conclude in May, when the two bid teams will submit fully costed binding proposals based on the requirements of the RFP.

Following evaluation of those proposals, a preferred bidder will be identified. Following cabinet approval, negotiations will commence to complete contractual and financial agreements with that preferred bidder. We anticipate at this stage that construction will commence in early 2016.

This is a very important project for the law courts. The existing Supreme Court building is certainly well at the end of its operational life. We need to retain some of the distinctive and important heritage elements of that building, but we also need contemporary court facilities that provide for the more efficient administration of justice and at the same time deliver appropriate working conditions for those who use our courts, whether that is judicial officers themselves, members of the public who need to appear before or perform duty in the courts, prosecutors, the defence, those who are accused, and a broad range of other parties.

The new courts project is designed to provide a state-of-the-art, modern court complex to meet the needs of those users and of the broader community for many years to come.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Attorney, why is it considered necessary to redevelop the courts precinct?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for the supplementary. It is worth highlighting that the original law courts building was built to service a population of about 100,000 people. Today, obviously, Canberra’s population is much greater than that. There have been a series of modifications and additions to the building over time, but these have only temporarily alleviated issues with space, circulation, layout, facilities and security, all of which remain legitimate concerns today.

Let me highlight some of the key problems facing the existing court building. First of all, there are problems in terms of internal separation of court attendees—for example, between the accused and witnesses and their associated families, and between the accused and victims. There is unsuitable courtroom accommodation for judicial officers and other personnel. The holding areas of the court are not appropriate for the current day and there is no capacity for growth in the existing court buildings.

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