Courthouse disrepair shows town means little to state government

The courthouse clock has now been repaired however the building has been the subject of overall neglect for some time.

The neglect of Gundagai’s courthouse is sending a public signal that the State Government has no interest in the town, according to a man who has spent a great deal of his working life within the historic building.

Solicitor Peter Gain, who spent the better part of four decades working in the courtroom, first lobbied for the courthouse clock to be repaired back in 2015 when he was a councillor on Gundagai Shire Council, and says the situation has deteriorated ever since. 

Mr Gain again made representations to State Member Steph Cooke in May of this year for the repair of the clock, which had not worked for at least two decades.

While the clock was repaired this week, it was but one of a number of problems Mr Gain pointed out in his correspondence, that need to be promptly addressed when it comes to the only significant NSW Government asset in the town.

“It’s just gone to wrack and ruin,” Mr Gain said.

“The veranda has substantially deteriorated and now represents a real danger for people attending court. The paintwork on the exterior of the building is peeling and appears to be mouldy in parts, and the grounds are shabby. The Boer War obelisk also needs rejuvenation.

“This is a major historical building in the centre of town. It provides the review point for the very well attended Anzac Day parade. It, together with the adjacent gaol, is the subject of considerable interest to tourists. It dominates the main street which has been the subject of a reconstruction and beautification program which cost the council in excess of four million dollars.

“The signal which the NSW Government sends publicly is that it has no interest in Gundagai.”

With Gundagai recently mourning the loss of one historic landmark in the demolition of the Prince Alfred Bridge, Mr Gain said it is essential that all care should be taken to properly maintain and preserve Gundagai’s remaining historical structures.

In speaking about the State’s courthouses, Attorney General Mark Speakman recently said, “The NSW Government is working hard to upgrade these historic buildings to ensure they are looking their best and are fit for the future”.

The Department of Communities and Justice states on its website that, “The preservation of our heritage buildings is extremely important”, with a dedicated asset management branch responsible for maintaining the 123 courthouses throughout the State that have some form of heritage listing.

“All of that is very nice, but let’s have action rather than words,” Mr Gain said.

When contacted by the Independent in relation to the state of the courthouse, a Department of Communities and Justice spokesperson said the NSW Government is committed to keeping the State’s courthouses fit for purpose.

“This year, the Department of Communities and Justice invested more than $20,000 to repair the Gundagai Courthouse clock, including the importation of a special part to complete the work,” the spokesperson said.

“Further repairs to the courthouse will be completed in due course. Any works will be subject to heritage requirements.”

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