Labor candidate for the state seat of Lismore, Janelle Saffin, has hit out at the Nationals incumbent, Thomas George, and Attorney-General, Mark Speakman, who she said didn’t even bother to visit Murwillumbah in their recent bid to reassure residents the town’s Courthouse facilities wouldn’t be further reduced.
In 2015, the government cut the court’s four sitting days and two hearing days per month to one sitting day and one hearing day per month, while two registrars were replaced with one part-time registrar.
In June Ms Saffin warned that the slashing of frontline services at the Courthouse ‘threatens the eventual closure of the Court’.
‘I believe the reduction of services in Murwillumbah was the first step in seeking to close the Court and funnel matters to Tweed and Lismore,’ she said at the time.
This week Messers George and Speakman, together with the Nationals’ aspirant for the seat, Austin Curtin, mounted courthouse steps in an attempt to hose down the debate.
But they were photographed at the Lismore Courthouse, prompting Ms Saffin to respond ‘it’s a bit sad and a bit ironic that they chose to drag the NSW Attorney General onto the steps of the Lismore Courthouse in order to offer the meaningless and inappropriate comment that “the doors will remain open at the Murwillumbah Courthouse Registry services”.’
‘Let them be upfront about their intentions and let them make those intentions specific and clear and let them make their announcements in Murwillumbah, not on the steps of the Lismore Courthouse at the other end of the electorate.
‘The local member and the Attorney General should consider the fact that the people advocating services and jobs for Murwillumbah still live here and are watching whether your words in Lismore will be translated immediately into transparently improved services for the people of Murwillumbah,’ Ms Saffin said.
Mr George said Labor needed to ‘stop scaremongering’.
‘The Attorney General has visited the electorate and restated the NSW Government’s commitment to providing registry services at Murwillumbah Courthouse,’ he said.
‘Murwillumbah Courthouse normally sits on the fourth Tuesday and Friday of the month, however, throughout 2018 we’ve seen additional dates added by the Chief Magistrate to manage Local and Children’s court matters,’ he said.
Mr Curtin said keeping essential services like the courthouse and hospital in Murwillumbah were his ‘number one priorities’.