For the past few months a pall of uncertainty has been looming over the Macksville Courthouse with opening times wavering dramatically, leaving many in the community unsure of its fate.
The line from the NSW Department of Justice (backed by local Member Melinda Pavey’s office) has consistently been that staffing and security issues were the reasons behind the temporary restriction of hours and services.
But there have been rumours that departmental belt-tightening and managerial frictions have also been a key factor.
The department response seemed to justify the partial closure when it added that: “Statistics show 90 per cent of Local Court Civil and 76 per cent of Local Court Crime forms are now filed online rather than in person at registries.”
It is questionable, however, whether these broad-brush statistics can be applied to a low socio-economic community such as the Nambucca Valley.
In June, Council resolved to appeal to the Attorney-General on behalf of the community about the restricted opening hours, and several community members also made their feelings known to Melinda Pavey.
“Residents attend the court for a wide variety of reasons ranging from dealing with Apprehended Violence Orders, to legal applications, to certifying documents and registering births and deaths,” Cr Rhonda Hoban said.
“While it may not be feasible to have the court open every week day of the week, only opening on sitting days (Thursdays), when it is very busy, disadvantages those who work or have transport difficulties or urgent matters.”
Yesterday Mel Pavey confirmed that the Macksville Courthouse registry has resumed delivering normal, full time, face-to-face services.
Mrs Pavey said approaches were made to the NSW Attorney-General following representations from the Macksville community and Councilor Rhonda Hoban, Mayor of the Nambucca Shire Council, about a decline in services at the site.
I have just this afternoon received formal advice from the Attorney-General that the Macksville Courthouse registry services have resumed. This is very welcome news and is an excellent outcome for the Nambucca Valley community.Mel Pavey
“I am advised that operating hours for the registry are Monday to Friday 9am-1pm and 2-4pm, and that Local Court sittings at Macksville will continue to be held each Thursday.”