‘Things aren’t working, they’re getting worse’: North Qld’s plea for help
THE North is under siege from a crippling crime wave and is calling for our state politicians to act.
Record crime figures from Townsville to the Tip has outraged our communities and made residents feel powerless or consider desperate vigilante action.
Today the Cairns Post and the Townsville Bulletin join forces to demand our State MPs deliver a message to Brisbane that we've had enough.
Cairns has just suffered its worst month of car thefts in recent history and a record 497 break-ins were recorded around the Far North in January, while Townsville endured its worst rate of unlawful entry in 20 years at a record 625 offences committed in February.
In a tragic low an Edmonton woman was allegedly raped in her home last week by a 17-year-old who had just been granted bail, and days later a picture was circulated on social media by brazen youths posing around a stolen car.
Furious residents have pointed the finger of blame at recent legislative changes in the Youth Justice Act which can allow young criminals to be released on bail "despite unacceptable risk".
Cairns civic leaders spoke out yesterday to say the problem runs far deeper due to a terrible culture which had been left to fester by the State Government, despite endless studies, reports and roundtables.
"I think it is (coming to a head)," Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said.
"Because I think most people realise the differences between us are the differences in where we are born.
"I certainly don't see anything from the government that any solution is close to hand.
"This is not about crime being committed by a few kids, it's about a bad culture being allowed to exist and prosper."
Cr Manning, who was part of the original committee formed when the damning Smallbone Report was released regarding horrific sexual abuse in west Cairns and Aurukun, said he had "always felt bad about that report".
"But I don't see any evidence in what we do today in regards (to it)," he said.
"Where is the government? I daresay if the kids were a different colour the outcome would be different."
Cairns Chamber of Commerce president Nick Loukas backed the Queensland Police Union's calls to consider cutting welfare payments to parents of recidivist offenders.
"We have to start looking at those kind of solutions," he said. "Things aren't working, they're getting worse.
"I think the do-gooders and those protecting the kids aren't actually protecting kids because more are turning to crime.
"Not enough is being done and it's not working. We have to be tougher."
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer continued to back the newly introduced legislation and the "whole-of-government" approach to tackling crime.
"There are more police on patrol, extra prison beds and extra youth detention centre beds," she said.
"The whole of government - police, youth justice, child safety, health, education and local leaders are working together to target persistent offenders."
Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt, whose electorate takes in Edmonton - among the worst hit crime areas - said the problem was not legislation but a small cohort of prolific offenders whose behaviour was "sadly very difficult to change.
"It's about making sure we're dealing with the causes of crime at the beginning and the tail end," he said.