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14 December, 2021

Locals urged to stand up and rally against crime

ALL residents who are concerned about the level of crime in Mareeba, particularly involving youth, are being urged to attend a public rally on Sunday in a bid to put pressure on the State Government to take action.

By Robyn Holmes

Photo: Dreamstime

Organiser Denis McKinley says he was prompted to act by the number of break-ins, car thefts and vandalism occurring in Mareeba on a weekly basis. “As a community, we must show that we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour in our town,” he said.

“The rally is all about trying to get the attention of the State to get more policing and to come up with ways we can deal with these kids who obviously have issues and need help to get on the right path.” 

Last week during the middle of the day, a 29-year-old man walking down Byrnes Street was assaulted after two juveniles allegedly attempted to take his bag. 

The man was punched in the face several times before the juveniles fled the scene around 1.30pm. Police located the alleged offenders about 6pm and charged two Mareeba boys. 

The 16-year-old was charged with attempted stealing, assault occasioning bodily harm, enter premise with intent to commit indictable offence and wilful damage by graffiti. 

A 13-year-old boy was charged with attempted stealing and assault occasioning bodily harm. 

“If this wilful unlawful unrelenting behaviour is not stopped in its tracks, Mareeba will suffer huge consequences economically to the point where valuations on properties will or could decrease as our town will be branded similar to others not only in Queensland but WA and the Northern Territory where the only thing you stop for is fuel and then fast track out of there,” Mr McKinley said. 

“Do we, in Mareeba, really want to be branded as that?” Mr McKinley is motivated in part by his own personal experience with crime, with two break-ins occurring at his home during which vehicles were stolen on each occasion. 

“They entered our home and shed whilst we were asleep and stole my son’s utility out of the enclosed car port on the first occasion,” he said.

 “After the first robbery, detectives told us that there was a real possibility they could reoffend now they know what we had in our home and shed - the detectives were spot on, but they (the offenders) were very much smarter and much more skilled the second time. 

“On that occasion, they breached my locked shed and stole my Nissan Patrol and went on a voyage to Mount Garnet stealing fuel from BP servo on Mareeba. It was lucky that social media tracked my vehicle to Mount Garnet before policed found it - $9000 later through insurance of my own, I have my vehicle back. 

“People ask me why I am so involved and passionate about what is happening in Mareeba right now – the invasion of your privacy is shocking and Pauline and I have lived this twice.” 

Despite pressure building within the community for the State Government to act, Member for Cook Cynthia Lui will not be attending Sunday’s public rally. 

But says her government has toughened up laws for young offenders.

“Any amount of crime is totally unacceptable,” Ms Lui said.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has toughened up the laws, including the introduction of the presumption against bail for youth off enders and the toughest antihoon legislation in the nation. 

“We are also making record investments in policing to ensure the Queensland Police Service has the personnel and the resources to keep the community safe. 

“Additionally, the Youth Justice Taskforce recently travelled to Cairns and announced it will focus on building intensive multi-agency case management of the top 10 per cent serious repeat off enders across the state. 

“The Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs is also exploring options for office space in Mareeba to accommodate extra staff from the Atherton youth justice office.” 

However, Deputy Opposition Leader David Janetzki has accused Ms Lui of “abandoning Mareeba”. 

“First she moved her electorate office out of the region and now she’s walking away from the youth crime problem. Mareeba locals deserve more respect from their State Member of Parliament,” Mr Janetzki said. 

“Our frontline police officers are doing an incredible job under immense stress and they too deserve more respect, resources and support. 

“The frustration from Far Northern business owners and residents is white hot. 

They’re sick of this crimewave and they’re sick of the local Labor MPs ignoring them. 

“The latest crime data is deeply concerning and should serve as a wake-up call for the State Government.

“Mareeba and Cairns have been hijacked by young thugs and the State Government is refusing to get tough. 

The LNP will continue to put solutions on the table including reinstating breach of bail as an offence.” The public rally will be held at Davies Park on Sunday from 12.30pm.

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