State leaders under fire as crime spike reaches new high
Townsville is in the grips of its worst crime crisis on record, but Queensland's Police Minister, during a visit to the city yesterday, couldn't outline what solutions the State Government had up their sleeve.
The city's three Labor MPs say they meet with the Premier every week about the crippling crime issue, but the lack of results, despite numerous crime forums, has led to criticism from the Opposition that the trio are "clearly powerless".
And Townsville is not alone, with residents from the Burdekin to Mt Isa to the tip of the Cape desperate to feel safe in their homes as crime surges to historic levels.
Today, in an unprecedented joint call to arms, the Townsville Bulletin and the Cairns Post are demanding our state MPs across North Queensland deliver a message to Brisbane that the region has had enough.
The Townsville District in February suffered through its worst month for home break-ins since records began in 2001, with a total of 625 reports of unlawful entry, while Cairns has just suffered through its worst month of car thefts in recent history.
Furious residents have pointed the finger of blame at recent legislative changes in the Youth Justice Act, which police and lawyers say is making it much harder keep young offenders behind bars despite being an "unacceptable risk".
It was recently revealed, after an 11-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly holding up a fish and chip shop at knifepoint, that he had been released on bail 10 times in four months.
But Police Minister Mark Ryan and Townsville's three Labor MPs- Scott Stewart, Aaron Harper and Coralee O'Rourke- yesterday continued to defend the law changes, with Mr Harper and Mr Ryan again pushing blame onto the judiciary.
"The unfortunate thing about crime is that there is actually no one answer," Ms O'Rourke said.
"This is not a simple problem that has an easy solution. If there was an easy solution there would be no crime anywhere."
"You are dealing with kids who come from generational dysfunction … you can't change that overnight."
The three MPs said they had been taking the communities gripes to the Premier and her ministers weekly.
Burdekin MP Dale Last criticised the trio, saying they had "absolutely no influence" with the Premier considering crime was still surging.
"Labor's arrogance and hypocrisy on this issue is breathtaking," he said.
Mayor Jenny Hill yesterday threw her support behind grassroots anti-crime group Townsville One Community, but stopped short of committing to kick her Labor colleagues into gear.
Cr Hill maintained there were still places in Queensland where crime was worse, but said statistics counted for nothing when the community doesn't feel safe.
"No one should have to be worried about getting carjacked or have someone walk into their home, or be threatened by an 11-year-old with a knife," she said.
"These issues are deeply rooted in family issues.
"The best way to deal with this issue, is to find a good grassroots program that may help us deal with it."
Cr Hill said fights in the public arena were not the answer, and could harm Townsville's ability to attract new residents and much needed investment.
Her response is unlikely to quell the frustrations of the man gunning for her job, with mayoral candidate Sam Cox demanding the mayor, as leader of the city, call out the premier and three local MPs in the name of public safety.
"I ask the mayor to ask the Premier of the state to personally visit and meet with the victims that should come first and stop protecting the perpetrators," Mr Cox said.
But unlike Cr Hill, Cairns mayor Bob Manning yesterday pulled no punches, saying he couldn't see the State Government having any solution.
"This is not about crime being committed by a few kids, it's about a bad culture being allowed to exist and prosper," he said.
"Where is the government? I dare said if the kids were a different colour the outcome would be different."