Beaudesert Courthouse in dire need of attention, says Jon Krause

SHODDY: Jon Krause (R) with former Shadow Justice Minister David Janestki outside Beaudesert Courthouse in 2018. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
SHODDY: Jon Krause (R) with former Shadow Justice Minister David Janestki outside Beaudesert Courthouse in 2018. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

AFTER Annastacia Palaszczuk announced $106 million funding to improve safety measures for victims attending court, Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause has called for an urgent upgrade of Beaudesert Courthouse.

Mr Krause wrote to Attorney General Shannon Fentiman expressing serious concerns about the facility.

"Beaudesert's courthouse requires a major upgrade or replacement," he wrote.

"I ask that you fund this urgently, including through utilisation of the $106m funding referred to above, in the upcoming Queensland budget.

"I have visited Beaudesert Courthouse on several occasions and am well aware of the completely inadequate conditions staff and visiting magistrates are expected to perform their duties under.

"My concern is that not only are the working conditions staff experience at Beaudesert impacting morale but that the current facilities available to victims of crime and domestic and family violence are woefully inadequate."

Mr Krause said it was unacceptable that people attending court had to congregate on the front steps and footpath.

"Environmental security for members of the public is largely non-existent and I have very serious concerns that victims of matters such as domestic and family violence cases are required to be in such close proximity to offenders.

"It is a situation that is hardly ideal for the victims and breeds a culture of fear and discord within certain sections of the community."

Beaudesert Lawyer Carolyn Buchan said the facility was not fit for modern purpose.

"What I have a real problem with is when people go to court they stand on the lawn for hours," she said.

"There's not even an appropriate sitting area for them and some are literally sitting in their cars because they have nowhere to wait."

Ms Buchan said the courthouse was not designed for safety.

"There have been occasions where I've been dealing with a domestic violence matter where the cramped conditions meant there was not enough space between the aggrieved and the respondent," she said.

"The entrances are inadequate and it doesn't have an adjoining safe room where victims can attend via video link, which is happening more and more in other courtrooms.

"This should be available for victims in domestic violence cases rather than having them in the courtroom where they're potentially exposed to assault. I've had to step in between a respondent and an aggrieved to stop that happening.

"On one occasion a respondent had a go at me after the police officer stepped out of the room, but he shouldn't have needed to stay. If that was a bigger courtroom there would have been more space."

The Attorney General said she was aware of the concerns at Beaudesert.

"I visited the Beaudesert Courthouse in November last year, and was provided a tour of the facilities by Chief Magistrate Gardiner and the sitting Magistrate, Magistrate Mossop, who spoke to me about safety concerns for victims attending court," Ms Fentiman said.

"I fully understand the issues at this facility and other court houses across the state are facing, given the aging and sometimes historically listed infrastructure at our Courts.

"The historic $363 million dollar announcement made by the Premier earlier this week includes funding to upgrade courts to improve safety for victims, and the expansion of Domestic and Family Violence specialised courts.

"There will be further announcements to come about the allocation of this funding."

Mr Krause argued that an upgrade would provide state-of-the-art facilities to assist dealing with domestic and family violence matters as well as being of benefit to the general court precinct will.

"Beaudesert's community deserves a safe and modern courthouse, to ensure that it can best serve Beaudesert and the Scenic Rim region," he wrote to Ms Fentiman.

"While it could be argued that this upgrade should have been completed together with the police station (and I know that DJAG previously considered doing this but no funding was made available), it is more important to focus now on delivering what is clearly needed, without a doubt, in the interests of safety of residents and a fair share for our community.

"Please include a new or upgraded Beaudesert Courthouse in the forward estimates for the upcoming budget."

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