Politics

Vic budget throws $300m at court build

The Victorian government is throwing nearly $300 million at upgrading and building new courtrooms in Melbourne’s fast-growing western suburbs.

The 2021/21 budget includes a $272 million to build a new 17-room court precinct at Wyndham, as well as a specialist family violence court.

Another $26.8 million will be used to expand the court precinct at Sunshine.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission will get $27.2 million as part of what the government called its “transition to budgetary independence”.

It comes after IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich QC last month said the watchdog’s ability to prevent and expose corruption risked being curtailed through persistent underfunding.

While IBAC’s workload had grow considerably since its creation, Mr Redlich said the budget wasn’t indexed and so funding couldn’t keep up with costs.

Opposition spokesman Kim Wells accused the government of cutting IBAC’s funding so it could hide from scrutiny.

Other criminal justice funding unveiled by the Andrews government included $47.3 million to improve audio-visual link technology and allow more offenders to appeal in court remotely.

“Not only will this ensure the safety of our courts in the short-term, it’ll create a stronger, faster and more flexible justice system on the other side of this pandemic,” Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said.

Meanwhile, Victoria Legal Aid will share in $28.5 million and the state’s 11 Registered Aboriginal Parties $20.2 million.

Nearly $6 million has been earmarked for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and $2.5 million for the Office of the Public Advocate, which promotes the rights of people with a disability.

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