The Newman Government’s farcical attempts to look tough on the issue of youth crime and repeat offenders have continued with Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie’s delayed announcement on the organisations selected to run a series of boot camps, says Bill Byrne, Shadow Minister for Corrective Services.
“The shoddy way in which the announcement has been made is in keeping with the chaos and spin which has categorised the whole sorry shemozzle,” said Mr Byrne.
“The early intervention boot camps in Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast, whose operators were announced by Mr Bleijie, will be boot camps in name only,” he said.
“The Newman Government wants to convey the message that it is getting tough with repeat offenders but the young people who will attend early intervention boot camps will not be repeat offenders. They will not be eligible if they have been in trouble with the courts.
“The models will do nothing to reduce vandalism and theft committed by repeat offenders,” he said.
“Business operators who have suffered at the hands of troubled teenagers deserve more thoughtfully considered solutions to their problems.”
Mr Byrne this week called for a public inquiry into the tender process for the initial Cairns boot camp after revelations the chosen operator, Safe Pathways, was awarded the contract to run the camp despite failing to meet a number of key selection criteria.
He said Mr Bleijie and Premier Campbell Newman were persisting with the farce even though they had failed to say whether a boot camp trial was a success or a failure.
Mr Byrne’s criticism was echoed by Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt, who said the announcement of a super-boot camp for Cairns and Townsville raised more questions than it delivered answers.
“After the bungling and confusion that has categorised the Newman Government’s embarrassing attempt to look tough on the issue of youth crime, Mr Bleijie’s latest pronouncement is a broken promise to the people of Cairns and Townsville who were assured their towns would get their own boot camps,” said Mr Pitt
“Here we are, nine days out from September and it turns out that still no location has been finalised, although suspect it will be somewhere between Cairns and Townsville.
“It turns out that, although no location has been finalised, there will be one camp somewhere between the two but which will satisfy neither community.
“Having said that, I welcome the appointment of Beyond Billabong as the boot camp operator because its management and staff have a good track record.
“It poses a question about the nature of the Sentenced Youth Boot Camp that will operate in the north of the state because Beyond Billabong’s approach has been to focus on rehabilitation of offenders.
“That is the correct approach and the one we have been calling for in contrast to the Newman Government’s punitive attitude which led it to rush to establish the initial camp in Cairns with such chaotic consequences.
“Hopefully Beyond Billabong will be able to get the program back on track.
“I am sure residents in places like Ingham, Innisfail and Tully will be interested to hear of the chosen location as quickly as possible.”
Mr Pitt said doubts persisted as to whether the so-called ‘super boot camp’ would meet the promised timetable after repeated assurances it would be operational in September.
He also questioned whether Mr Bleijie might be repeating his earlier mistake in Cairns by awarding contracts without locations.
“Without clearly identified premises it is not possible to adequately asses essential criteria such as ambulance response times to suicide attempts, safety in accommodation, consultation with neighbours and liaison with local councils.”
Beyond Billabong says it is working with the Justice Department to find an isolated location between Cairns and Townsville.