Attorney-General Robert Clark today announced $2.7 million in funding to refurbish the Wangaratta Court building.
Mr Clark said the planned works would fix the problems that had led the County Court to decide to move criminal trials to Wodonga, and would improve facilities at the court for the benefit of court users and visitors as well as the judiciary, court staff and Victoria Police.
"The previous Labor government left behind a wide range of problems in Victoria's justice system, which the Victorian Coalition Government is working to fix whenever possible despite the current difficult economic times," Mr Clark said.
Department of Justice officials have been working since late last year with the court, police and other stakeholders at the request of the Attorney-General on options to address the problems at the Wangaratta Court. However, in recent weeks the condition of the court has threatened its ability to function.
The refurbishment will include repairing the court's roof, addressing structural and safety issues and upgrading holding cells.
"These building works will allow the Wangaratta courthouse to continue to provide justice in the Wangaratta community," Mr Clark said.
"The works will be staged over the next 12 to 18 months, beginning with the installation of root barriers around the Western Wing, which will allow that wing to re-open."
Mr Clark said the Government would now commence discussions with the County Court and Magistrates' Court about the scheduling of hearings and refurbishment works so as to minimise disruption, and to seek the recommencement of criminal trials in Wangaratta as soon as possible.
Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy said the local community had been concerned by the state of the courthouse for some time, and welcomed the announcement of a comprehensive refurbishment.
"I have been in discussions with the Attorney-General and the Government for some time about the state of the courthouse, and look forward to the completion of this project," Mr McCurdy said.