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26 December, 2021

Mareeba demands crime action

A PACKED grandstand of concerned Mareeba citizens has demanded a raft of actions be addressed by local and State governments to reduce crime and “reclaim their town”.

By Robyn Holmes

Sunday’s rally in Davies Park attracted 500-plus citizens who endorsed a number of resolutions which will now be sent to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, all relevant State Ministers, Member for Cook Cynthia Lui, who did not attend the gathering, Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll, Mareeba Police, Mareeba Chamber of Commerce, Mareeba Shire Council, and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter. 

Describing the crime situation in the town as the worst he has seen in his lifetime, convenor and former fire chief Denis McKinley outlined the concerns of the community, saying “enough is enough”. 

He told the crowd “we need to stop this bushfire because it will be a runaway if we don’t stop it in its tracks” and detailed a number of actions that could mitigate the daily criminal activity in the town which has been largely attributed to juveniles. 

He urged the crowd to take this “one chance to save the image of our town and turn this around at the community level”. 

Mr McKinley said the justice system was “wishy-washy” and police were often hamstrung as to what actions they could take. “The consequences do not fit the crime – We say, you do the crime, you do the time.,” he said. 

“But these young people know full well how the system works and that it’s just a revolving door.” 

Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin addressed the rally, saying while council was not the responsible authority in relation to policing and crime, it was actively advocating for more resources and services to tackle the issues that contribute to anti-social behaviour and criminal activity. 

“Mareeba is not designated as hot spot for juvenile crime so we do not receive the sort of funding that other places do,” she said. 

“We are currently assisting the PCYC to get funding for a purpose-built facility and night programs, and just last week we met with Youth Justice and outlined our request that graffiti be removed by the youth that put it there.” 

But she warned that there must be a structured approach to addressing the issue. 

“Spreading fear and division will not serve us – we must work together as a united community for a common goal,” she said. 

Mareeba Chamber of Commerce president Joe Moro also spoke, calling for more police resources, and making parents and guardians of juvenile offenders responsible for their children’s actions. 

“We need to break the cycle and the State must be held to account,” he said. 

Among the raft of resolutions put forward was the introduction of a youth curfew from 10pm to 6am, with appropriate penalties for parents or guardians if their children were found on the streets at night. 

Another key action was the immediate establishment of an Alcohol Free Zone in the area between Mareeba Heritage Centre in the south to Rotary Park in the north and from the Railway reserve in the west up to and including Walsh Street in the east (excluding hotels). 

They also demanded that local magistrates be empowered to enforce the removal of graffiti by those found guilty of its creation and that council fund afterhours security patrols of the CBD between 10am and 6am. 

“Such patrol officers would have direct contact with local police in order to effect quick response to graffiti, other property damage or theft in business premises. Such funding can be drawn down from the current Benefitted Area Fund,” the resolution read. 

Council was also called upon to reinstate CCTV surveillance of the town’s CBD after the gathering was told police relied upon businesses to have CCTV to identify offenders because council’s CCTV had “been discontinued” for some time. 

Other resolutions were that the State Government make immediate changes to the Justice and Youth Justice Act to not allow bail for repeat offenders; empower courts and police to enforce to make parents/guardians of youth offenders financially responsible for any damage, theft or other result of unlawful actions; implement regular monthly reporting of any group assigned or volunteering Youth Justice Support for offenders; and the State Government to take a more responsible and proactive role in effective management/deterrent strategies with respect to Juvenile crime offences that better reflect community expectations and standards.

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