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KAP: Relocation Sentencing. Not just another program

Feb 14, 2024

Queensland Parliament Question Time yesterday took an interesting turn of events with Premier Steven Miles making an unexpected announcement that parts of the Katter’s Australian Party’s (KAP) Relocation Sentencing Policy was being used to develop a new strategy to combat out of control youth crime.[1]

The announcement came in response to a Question Without Notice by Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto who asked the Premier to clarify that if Labor now has an ‘open cheque policy’, was Relocation Sentencing going to be seriously considered.

Mr Dametto said that although the Premier’s response was a massive shift from previous rejections of the policy by the then Palaszczuk Government, he was still wary that the devil would be in the detail of Labor’s new strategy.

“Although I applaud the Premier’s response, I must implore him to get this right. For this to work, Relocation Sentencing must become a third sentencing option for magistrates, it must also draw on the four main policy pillars, remote, mandatory, fixed term and include intensive rehabilitation.” he said.

“Another “opt in” program won’t cut it with this youth crime cohort. Unless it’s a third sentencing option for the courts that is enshrined in the Youth Justice Act, it won’t work. Queenslanders will be scathing of another failed On-Country program.

“My fear is that the Government will cherry-pick elements from our policy but essentially miss the crux. They need to demonstrate that they are willing to solve a practical problem not just a political one. It’s essential that they take this seriously if they want to fix Queensland’s number one problem.”

KAP Member for Hill, Shane Knuth said that Relocation Sentencing was supported by the local councils in Townsville, Mareeba and Cairns and credit had also been given by the Queensland Police Union for the development of this policy.

“We appreciate the Premier’s gesture today, but we need to see the policy enacted in full,” Mr Knuth said.

“The essential part of the policy is to give a judge a third sentencing option when dealing with juveniles, and that is to send them to a remote area where they can learn values and skills over a six to 12 month period.

“This is no holiday camp. Relocation Sentencing is designed to give these kids the skills and fresh start they need, but also make sure it is somewhere they don’t want to go back to, as they do with the Cleveland Detention Centre.”

KAP Leader and Traeger MP, Robbie Katter said he was optimistic about the Premier’s response despite the State Government vigorously rejecting KAP’s Relocation Sentencing Policy in the past.

“Although we’re edging closer to seeing something from the Government that looks like Relocation Sentencing, if it falls short of being a legislated sentencing option then it’s going to miss the mark,” Mr Katter said.

“The Government is scrambling at the moment trying to overcome the knife culture and out of control youth crime but they still blatantly refuse to accept that kids need boundaries and they need discipline.

“Discipline doesn’t have to mean punitive. The real goal of Relocation Sentencing is to help young offenders develop their own self-discipline. That’s what rehabilitation should look like and is the only way you’ll stop them making bad choices and opting to revert back to a criminal lifestyle.

“No matter what sort of family life you’re raised in, no one is born possessing all the tools and knowledge needed to live a balanced life and make good decisions. Sadly, for those kids who missed it early on, they need to learn those lessons the hard way a bit later in life.”

Photos: KAP MPs – Robbie Katter (Leader), Nick Dametto (Deputy Leader) and Shane Knuth.

[1] Queensland Parliament Hansard 13 February 2024, 28-29. https://documents.parliament.qld.gov.au/events/han/‌2024/2024_02_13_DAILY.pdf

*KAP’s Relocation Sentencing Policy can be found HERE.