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15 February, 2022

Mareeba’s “heart and soul” being torn out by crime

THE rising crime epidemic in Mareeba was in the spotlight last week as Shadow Minister for Police and Corrective Services Dale Last made a trip to the town to meet with businesses and residents to get a true picture of the situation.

By Rhys Thomas

Shadow Minister for Police and Corrective Service Dale Last speaking with Denis McKinley outside the burned out old Performance Motors building in Byrnes Street.

Mr Last met with crime rally convenor Denis McKinley who walked the streets of Mareeba to show him incidences of vandalism and graffiti plastered along the main street. 

With 25 years’ experience in the police force, Mr Last described the graffiti in Mareeba as the worst he had seen in Queensland. 

“The extent of the graffiti and vandalism was much more than I was led to believe,” he said. 

He said unless strong action was taken to address so-called minor offences like vandalism and graffiti, the community was at risk of crime “snowballing” into other offences such as serious assault and armed robbery. 

After meeting with business owners along the main street and hearing their concerns, Mr Last came to the conclusion that agencies and community leaders were not working in conjunction with one another. 

“This community is having its heart and soul torn out by these young off enders and there’s no consequence for that – people have had a gutful and are demanding action and they are right to demand action,” he said.

“What we’re seeing in Queensland at the moment is all these departments operating in silos and not working collaboratively. 

“This needs to be a collaborative effort across the board, involving everyone because there is no single entity that will address this issue.” 

In the short term, Mr Last recommended CCTV be reinstalled, changes be made to the local liquor licensing accord to adjust times and buying volumes, graffiti be immediately removed and a proposal for a rapid action patrol group. 

In the long term, Mr Last has called on the State Government and community leaders to work collaboratively to address the problem before it snowballs as well as make changes to the Youth Justice & Child Safety Laws. 

“Police can only enforce the legislation that is in place at that particular time… the legislation needs to reflect the expectations of the community,” he said. 

“The community is saying that offenders need to be held to account and I’ve always maintained that if they’re out there committing serious offences then they belong in jail. 

“Having said that, there needs to be more programs whilst they’re in detention centres and there needs to be a greater focus at point of release in terms of supervision and rehabilitation because there is none.” 

Mr Last said Member for Cook Cynthia Lui should be Mareeba’s first port of call to address the rising crime epidemic. 

“Your elected official should be your first port of call, no question, but sitting just under that is all of your agencies,” he said. 

“You need an action plan on what you’re going to do, who’s going to be responsible but more importantly you need some key performance indicators. 

“It should be led by the state because at the end of the day, it clearly falls under that state umbrella and your state member, Cynthia Lui, should be heavily involved in this process. 

“The buck stops here with the State Government, absolutely council needs to be working in conjunction with the State, but they need to step up and give this community a reassurance that they’re going to take action.” 

Ms Lui stopped into Mareeba for three hours last Tuesday as she hosted one of her mobile offices and met with concerned locals, crime being a main talking point. 

During her recent visit, Ms Lui assured the community that she had been working closely with stakeholders to address crime in Mareeba.

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