Canberra Matters columnist PAUL COSTIGAN reports the an ACT integrity commission is almost a reality.
ANDREW Barr and Simon Corbell say the new ACT Law Courts are one step closer with today’s announcement that Juris Partnership has been selected as the preferred proponent to deliver the ACT’s first Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“The new ACT Law Courts, with a capital cost of $150 million, will meet the territory’s needs for the next 50 years in a more functional, flexible and sustainable way, and create about 350 jobs throughout the construction phase of the project,” Andrew said.
“As the territory’s first PPP, the project demonstrates the ACT Government’s commitment to working innovatively in partnership with the private sector to deliver Canberra’s future infrastructure needs.
“Juris Partnership is a consortium of companies with national and international experience in delivering PPPs, including Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd, Macquarie Capital Group Limited, Programmed Facility Management Pty Ltd and Lyons architects.
“Under the PPP contract for the new ACT Law Courts, Juris will be responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintaining the precinct for the next 25 years.”
Simon said the new ACT Law Courts will accommodate the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, Magistrates Court and Childrens Court with a four story new link building fronting Vernon Circle joining the existing Magistrates and refurbished Supreme Court buildings.
“There will be an increase from the current 17 court rooms to capacity for 22, with 18 planned for immediate operation. Five of the new courtrooms will be fitted to accommodate juries, almost doubling the current capacity of three,” Simon said.
“The new courts precinct will feature private meeting rooms for lawyers to confer with their clients, something that has not existed in ACT courts previously, as well as having a dedicated witness suite, interpreters’ facilities and a framework to support the hearing impaired.
“The new ACT Law Courts will also promote best practice facilities for witnesses and their families, have dedicated spaces for community service and domestic violence support agencies and a mediation hub with facilities capable of hosting multi-party mediations.
“Importantly the facility will be will be certified to a 5-star green star standard by the Green Building Council of Australia. Some of the environment features included in the design include the installation of a 110KW capacity solar photo-voltaic array, solar water heating, rainwater harvesting and end of journey facilities for cyclists. A new integrated heating and cooling plant arrangement and improved lighting systems will also contribute to the energy efficiency of the new precinct.”
“The ACT Government has worked closely with Juris through the interactive tender process – a unique feature of PPPs – to respect and celebrate the heritage of the existing Supreme Court building in the development of the design for the new precinct,” Andrew said.
“Key heritage features that will be maintained include the marble cladding, the internal atrium and the inscribed ‘Law Courts of the Australian Capital Territory’. The wood panelling in the original six courtrooms will also be given a new lease of life and used in the interior design.
“This is the ACT’s first entry into the PPP market, with other states and territories already having successfully taken advantage of this infrastructure delivery model. Other courts projects around the country, like the Perth CBD Courts and the County Court of Victoria have been delivered successfully through PPPs, and the ACT Government has used the ‘lessons learned’ from other jurisdictions throughout its own process.
“The preferred proponent has been selected to enter into final negotiations with the territory with a contract to be awarded by the end of the year. Works approval has been lodged with the National Capital Authority and a three week public consultation is due to start on Saturday 24 October. A decision on works approval is expected in late November.
For more information on the ACT courts precinct and the ACT’s Partnerships Framework visit apps.treasury.act.gov.au