The South Australian government has abandoned plans to build a new $500 million courts precinct, the project's developer says.

Attorney-General John Rau has confirmed that a new $500 million courts precinct in Adelaide will no longer be built, saying the proposal doesn’t represent value for money.

SA Chief Justice Chris Kourakis says the existing courts are falling apart.

“There is simply a shortage of court rooms,” he told reporters at the District Court.

“The building in which we stand at the moment has concrete cancer. Large slabs of the facade are falling off and, but for the verandas around the courtroom, would be falling down to street level.

“The Supreme Court across the road lacks the most basic of facilities, from power points, to cabling, to hot water. There is no disability access. Some of the court rooms are so poorly ventilated and in such a poor state that they simply can’t be used as courts.”

Justice Kourakis says the court’s ageing IT systems are at serious risk of breaking down and are causing delays to criminal matters.

Construction of the new precinct was due to begin early this year and finish in 2017.

Developer Lend Lease said in a statement on Thursday that the government’s decision to terminate the project did not reflect on the quality of its proposal.

The Activate 40 consortium, consisting of Lend Lease, Capella Capital, Aurecon and Mott MacDonald Australia, won the rights to develop the project in a public-private partnership.

In a rare media conference, Justice Kourakis said the developers of the new precinct had “cut to the bone” to ensure the government received value for money.

“As best I understand the difficulty in funding the project, it is in the financing aspect of that project and not in the bricks and mortars and spaces within it,” he said.

The government will consider development of a courts precinct in its deliberations ahead of the June state budget, Mr Rau said on Thursday.
“The actual build proposed was fit for purpose, however it did not achieve the value for money proposition needed by government for the project to go ahead,” he said.

Opposition spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said SA was “in the dark ages” with its court situation.


By Michael Ramsey