Justice Centre may be on its way

PROMINENT local businessman Steve Gooley, a key player in the campaign for a new Coffs Harbour police station and courthouse, says the O'Farrell Government has given strong indications project funding will be announced in next month's budget.

Mr Gooley has echoed comments made by Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser that the government is moving to build the new Justice Centre on the current site of the State Forests depot on the corner of Beryl St and the Pacific Highway.

If start-up funding is granted, work on stage one of the construction would commence within 12 months and then a second budget allocation would be needed to complete the centre.

After Barry O'Farrell was elected to power, Mr Gooley lobbied the Premier's office, Treasury and relevant ministers through a series of letters following up on a pre-election pledge made by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner.

“I would ask for your assurance that a new police station/court house will be built in Coffs Harbour during the first term of your government as was guaranteed by Mr Stoner,” Mr Gooley wrote.

“The current police station and court house are antiquated, cramped and grossly inefficient.

“I am more than confident in saying that Coffs Harbour has the worst and most rundown facilities in the state.

“I have been out the back of the police station where the detectives work and I have never seen such appalling working conditions, the whole station and court house is well over two decades past their used by dates.

“Coppers do a hard and difficult job which more often than not goes unrewarded, if I can help them in any way then I am more than happy to do what I can do to make politicians stick to promises.”

The representations to the government, along with Mr Fraser's party room lobbying, appear to have resulted in a deal.

The strongest confirmation that the project is on the go came in a reply from the office of Police and Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher and NSW Attorney General Greg Smith.

Mr Gallacher's chief of staff Brad Scutella stated: “The Liberals and Nationals have committed to investing an additional $69 million to upgrade, replace and build five police stations in NSW."

Mr Smith's office went one step further, with chief of staff Damien Tudehope confirming: “The proposal for the new courthouse will be included in the next round of submissions from my department to the NSW Treasury, in accordance with the department's Capital Investment Strategic plan.”

Premier O'Farrell will announce the State Budget on September 6.

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