Labor and LNP align to vote against KAP’s crime policy

Apr 20, 2023

In dismal scenes last night, the LNP showed its true colours and sided with Labor as both parties voted down the Katter’s Australian Party’s (KAP) Private Members’ Motion on a widely-supported solution to youth crime.

The motion to the House was as follows:

That this House endorse new solutions to the youth crime crisis engulfing Queensland, namely, introducing Relocation Sentencing as an alternative to traditional juvenile detention, which would see recidivist youth offenders ordered by courts to serve long-term sentences in highly-rehabilitative environments in remote locations.

Relocation Sentencing has been a key policy for the KAP for more than five years and has been widely supported by community groups and leaders.

Late last year, 95 per cent of Queensland mayors and councillors supported a proposal similar to the KAP’s policy that called for young offenders to be detained and sent to rural properties to be rehabilitated.[1]

The LNP sought to amend the KAP’s motion, with its support contingent on a “review of programs of a similar nature” occurring first to establish whether they were working.

The LNP amendment, tabled by Dale Last MP, was to – INSERT “only after a review of programs of a similar nature already in force is conducted by the Auditor-General in the Auditor-General’s current review of youth justice initiatives.”

Ultimately, the LNP rejected the KAP’s request for support for Relocation Sentencing.

KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the KAP’s policy was about creating a third option for judges and magistrates when deciding how to deal with youth offenders, and was designed to provide hope and a circuit-breaker to offenders caught in the cycle of crime.

He said youth crime, and the Government’s inability to deal with the spiralling issue, was eroding life in Queensland, specifically in the North Queensland communities of Mount Isa, Townsville and Cairns.

“I know this is a difficult issue but we as Members are elected to deal with it on behalf of the public,” he said.

“If it is simply too difficult for the Government and they’re not willing to give an alternative like Relocation Sentencing a go, they need to go and explain this to the families in Mount Isa who are crying to me, sending me emails saying, ‘We love Mount Isa. We had a great time here, but we cannot put up with this. We are not putting the safety of our family at risk’.

“It breaks my heart when I get these emails or phone calls from people saying, ‘We have been here 30 years, but we cannot live with this anymore’.”

KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said Relocation Sentencing was a viable and realistic option that had all of the potential to create real, long-lasting change to youth crime in Queensland.

“Both of the major parties talk tough about youth crime but when the rubber hits the road, they fade into the shadows like shrinking violets,” Mr Dametto said.

“On one hand, you’ve got Labor who will vote down a logical solution if it allows them to avoid ever admitting they got something wrong and on the other hand, the LNP won’t support something that wasn’t their own idea.

“Although, when it comes to original policy ideas, it seems the LNP are still championing last place. Presently, their only youth crime policy is calling for the removal of detention as a last resort which even the LNP seems to have forgotten was a KAP policy introduced earlier this term that the LNP bizarrely voted against.[2]

“Labor has once again demonstrated its complete disregard for the wellbeing of Queenslanders, and it is regrettable that the LNP has chosen to align themselves with this attitude.

“It is alarming that the LNP, a party that claims to represent regional and rural communities, has delivered a very clear message that those who are suffering in the midst of the youth crime crisis are not a priority.”

KAP Member for Hill Shane Knuth MP said both major parties had dropped the ball on youth crime and were completely missing the point on Relocation Sentencing.

“Relocation Sentencing would allow a third sentencing option for the courts, because the current options are simply NOT working.

“Right now, youth are sent to detention centres which statistics show that 95 per cent of youth will reoffend within 12 months of release.

“This is because they are sent straight back to the same environment that caused them to offend in the first place. They don’t know anything else and rehabilitation services are not forced on these youth, so it becomes a revolving door of repeat crime.”

Mr Knuth said Relocation Sentencing took offenders out of toxic environments and provided relief to the communities they were terrorising, providing a far better chance of rehabilitation services to be delivered effectively.