Legal eagles ramp up fight for more Macarthur courts

Legal eagle: Macarthur Law Society president Brett McGrath. Picture: Simon Bennett
Legal eagle: Macarthur Law Society president Brett McGrath. Picture: Simon Bennett

Macarthur-based legal experts have reiterated their calls for more courts in the region.

A multi-jurisdictional precinct made up of federal, local and family courts needed to be established to accommodate the ever-increasing population, Macarthur Law Society president Brett McGrath said.

The former St Gregory’s College student said Campbelltown Court House was already at capacity and the number of cases at Picton Court House had seen some sitting days last until 7pm. He said Camden’s court was unable to absorb any of the load due to a lack of security infrastructure.

It meant victims, offenders and legal professionals were already forced to travel to Wollongong or Parramatta – where direct train services from Campbelltown no longer run following a state government decision late last year – for many cases.

“If the precinct isn’t built, people in Macarthur will have to continue to travel for access (to the justice system),” he said.

Mr McGrath said the precinct would save professionals, victims and clients time and money.

Early last year he told the Advertiser the society had made a submission to the Greater Sydney Commission – the organisation  tasked with planning throughout Sydney – regarding the precinct.

He said draft plans for the area had not addressed the growing needs of the judicial system.

The Law Society of NSW  is also on board with the Macarthur branch’s push.

“It is inadequate for the needs of the rapidly growing population of the region,” Law Society of NSW president Pauline Wright said.

The state government recently finalised plans to build about 20,000 new homes around Macarthur’s seven train stations.

Large developments in Menangle, Menangle Park and Gilead, plus a new 30,000-home suburb a stone’s throw away from Oran Park, are also in the pipeline.

Given the current and planned growth, Mr McGrath said work towards establishing the multi-jurisdictional precinct needed to happen now.

“It’s not a case of build it and they will come, we need to build it because they are already here,” he said.

Mr McGrath said Campbelltown would be the ideal home for the precinct given Legal Aid, the Department of Public Prosecutions and the Macarthur Community Legal Centre, were already based in the town.

He said the precinct would also give the local economy a big boost.

“Businesses are the main driver of economy, but this is one of the areas where government can make a centre that’s a job creator,” he said.

“Picton can have 400 people turn up to court on any one day.”