TOWNSVILLE residents are trapped in a “criminal hell hole” because of the State Labor Government’s weak youth justice policies, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.
Mr Dametto said he was disgusted the government “had virtually handed Townsville to the criminals” after passing their amendments to the Youth Justice Act two weeks ago.
A shocking 102 offences involving unlawful entry and 24 involving unlawful use of a motor vehicle were recorded between May 3 and 9 in the Townsville Local Government Area.
“Once again, we have seen another nightmarish week of crime in Townsville. This is on top of another stolen car found torched early Monday morning after it was stolen on May 8, and five cars and three trail bikes stolen overnight,” Mr Dametto said.
“Labor have clearly demonstrated they do not care. I have been saying all along, young offenders do not fear the law or the punishment. I acknowledge that since the laws changed a few weeks ago, instances of young offenders being granted bail have dropped significantly. However, because detention remains a last resort for magistrates when sentencing, these kids will likely be released with either suspended sentences or parole. It’s still a slap on the wrist resulting in no deterrent.”
Mr Dametto said during the debate on the government’s Youth Justice Bill in parliament last month, both Labor and the LNP teamed up to vote down a Katter’s Australian Party’s amendment to remove detention as a last resort.
“For months, we’ve heard the LNP go on about how making breach of bail an offence was their silver bullet solution to fixing all youth crime in Queensland. We heard MPs from their party condemn Labor during the Bill’s debate for their removal of breach of bail as an offence and reinstatement of detention as a last resort,” Mr Dametto said.
“Yet, when it came to changing the law so a detention order could be a first option instead of the last to get these kids off our streets, the LNP seemed happy with the status quo and voted with Labor. I’m still trying to understand the logic in that.”
The KAP’s other key amendment would have instituted a minimum of 12 months imprisonment to be served wholly in a corrective services facility (detention centre or approved remote property) for recidivist young offenders who commit either unlawful use or possession of motor vehicles, aircraft or vessel, burglary and entering or being in premises and committing indictable offences.
“We listened to the community and they told us in no uncertain terms they wanted harsher penalties,” Mr Dametto said.
“Labor have missed the mark with the people of Townsville who are left dealing with this daily nightmare.
“The government has completely botched a golden opportunity to end this crime crisis and have successfully demonstrated that they are not willing to fix the problem or are incapable of doing so”.