Dametto: “Send in the army”
Escalating incidents of youth crime in Townsville have prompted Hinchinbrook MP and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Deputy Leader Nick Dametto to formally write to Australia’s Defence Minister, Hon. Richard Marles, requesting defence force assistance in the garrison city.
Mr Dametto said the rationale for calling in the army was not to hand over control to the military but rather to utilise military skills and equipment to aid and assist the Queensland Police Service to carry out their duties safely and effectively.
“The community is completely fed up with the crime that is taking place across Townsville. The offending rate is on the rise as is the frequency and severity of the violence. Residents have drawn the line after emergency service vehicles including ambulances have now become a target for youth joy riding in stolen cars,” he said.
“This call has come from Townsville residents who have been asking what it would take for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to become involved. I wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, the Hon. Richard Marles on the thirteenth of December to ask that very question.
“We live in a garrison city with ADF resources at our fingertips that could be used in the short term to aid and assist police in their plight to control and disrupt youth crime gangs in Townsville.
“Under section 35(1)(a) of the Defence Act 1903 (Cth), the State Government may apply to the Commonwealth Government to protect the state against domestic violence and this power actually lies within our Australian Constitution.
“It is not unusual to see the ADF called in during times of natural disasters and we even saw them deployed during the Covid era to assist with border controls and to help out in our nursing homes.
“Residents don’t want to see the ADF turn North Queensland into a military state, they’re simply requesting the State Government draw on the ability for the Commonwealth Government to become involved and the ADF to aid and assist where necessary.
“Assistance could be given to the Queensland Police in the form of intelligence/surveillance, communication, personnel patrols and vehicle support.
“They’re going to run out of police cars pretty quickly if they keep putting officers in civilian style vehicles expecting them to have the right tools to combat youths in stolen cars.
“Calling in the Army is not a long-term solution, there must be legislative change to the Youth Justice Act to ensure police and the courts have the legal tools to keep recidivist youth offenders locked up for longer. I have never ever seen any one steal a car or ram raid a business from behind bars.
“The KAP have submitted the Party’s Relocation Sentencing policy to the Government and called for mandatory minimum sentencing, removal of detention as a last resort and adult time for adult crime. We are not going to stop advocating for these necessary legislative changes.
“Townsville has a lot of hard-working dedicated police officers that are currently stretched mentally, physically and their resource pool is diminished. Townsville residents are right, it’s time to ask the big question and give these hard-working people the support they need in this time of crisis.
“I look forward to the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister’s prompt response.”