FRECKLINGTON ELECTION
FRECKLINGTON ELECTION

Why LNP curfew plan is a good idea

Bleeding heart civil rights activists were always going to condemn a curfew plan.

Deb Frecklington would have anticipated this when she announced the LNP would introduce laws to keep kids off the streets after dark.

But she's standing firm and at least trying to do something to keep communities safe.

In the six-month trial in Queensland crime hot spots Townsville and Cairns, children aged 14 and younger would need to be indoors by 8pm, or by 10pm for 15-17-year-olds.

Parents could be fined $250 for every child out past these times without providing a reasonable excuse.

Oh, the injustice of it all, the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties bleated.

Queensland opposition LNP leader Deb Frecklington get's tough on crime in Townsville promising to introduce a new night curfew to target juvenile crime if elected. Photo: Sarah Marshall
Queensland opposition LNP leader Deb Frecklington get's tough on crime in Townsville promising to introduce a new night curfew to target juvenile crime if elected. Photo: Sarah Marshall

Well, what about the rights of law-abiding residents to not live in fear?

To not have their cars stolen, property broken into and possessions destroyed?

To not be inconvenienced, financially out of pocket and burdened with insurance company claims?

To not have to risk getting stabbed or otherwise assaulted? Where are their rights?

An analysis of Queensland Police Service and Queensland Treasury has revealed the seat of Townsville, held by Labor with the slimmest of margins, has the worst crime rate in the state.

Crime is 2.5 times higher than elsewhere, and one-quarter of people in the seat both major parties hope to win come October 31 have been victims of crime.

Cairns is little better, and youth crime is particularly rife in both cities.

Samantha Kingsley (right) owner of fish and chip shop Sami's Place has been broken into 11 times in seven years. Speaking with Frecklington about her curfew promise, hoping maybe this will decrease her troubles. Photo: Sarah Marshall
Samantha Kingsley (right) owner of fish and chip shop Sami's Place has been broken into 11 times in seven years. Speaking with Frecklington about her curfew promise, hoping maybe this will decrease her troubles. Photo: Sarah Marshall

So it makes sense for the LNP to want to get tough on crime in critical regional seats where Labor is struggling.

It is also the duty of a responsible government to protect its citizens. All of them.

Under the plan announced this week, police would have the power to take a child to a community refuge where they would be supervised and given support by youth and health workers until a parent or a social worker picked them up.

The curfew is not a blanket ban on kids, as the left has suggested, but on kids doing the wrong thing, many of whom are already well-known to police and practised at thumbing their noses at authority.

In crime hot spots Townsville and Cairns, children aged 14 and younger would need to be indoors by 8pm, or by 10pm for 15-17-year-olds but “will not punish all.”Photo: iStock image
In crime hot spots Townsville and Cairns, children aged 14 and younger would need to be indoors by 8pm, or by 10pm for 15-17-year-olds but “will not punish all.”Photo: iStock image

It will not punish all young people, as the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties' Terry O'Gorman has claimed.

It may not punish any of them, but rather provide access to help they need while also restoring some semblance of law and order.

"When you've got an 87-year-old woman in Cairns getting held up by either a 12- to a 14-year-old there is a problem," Ms Frecklington said earlier this week.

"If you are on the streets doing the wrong thing, you'll be taken off the streets.

"This is about making sure that parents become responsible for their children."

Ms Frecklington said it was also about keeping kids themselves safe.

That's a valid motivation.

Consider the four teens killed in a car crash in Townsville in June.

The three girls and a boy, aged between 13 and 17, died in a stolen car allegedly driven by a 14-year-old around 4.30am.

Why weren't those kids tucked up in bed?

Certainly, the curfew proposal needs to be fleshed out, like most pledges put forth ahead of elections.

Ms Frecklington is yet to fully explain how the curfew concept would play out, but some sort of plan is infinitely better than the big fat nothing Labor has achieved in its six years in relation to curbing crime in the north.

As one concerned Courier-Mail reader noted: "Youth crime is horrific in Townsville and Labor's soft on crime policies have only contributed to it.

"I have a daughter at uni there and a while back I found myself advising her to just let the kids take her car and get to safety if she gets carjacked.

"I shouldn't have to have that conversation."

Keeping juvenile offenders off the streets after dark will only ever be one part of the puzzle in reducing crime.

The LNP has never claimed otherwise.

Cycles of crime, disadvantage and poor parenting run generations deep, so a miracle fix is out of the question.

But trialling curfews is a start, and deserves to be examined.

Originally published as Why LNP curfew plan is a good idea


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