Baby Bonus to blame for Qld’s youth crime crisis: Labor MP

 

A high-profile Labor MP has made the extraordinary claim that Queensland's youth crime crisis was partly caused by parents who bred to pocket the federally-funded Baby Bonus.

Cairns MP Michael Healy said youth crime was the by-product of social issues caused by "the collapse of the traditional family unit" and the fact that "certain segments in the community were taking advantage of the Baby Bonus for the money".

The controversial comments came as Mr Healy toured the city with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who yesterday refused to criticise outright a controversial LNP curfew to kerb youth crime in Townsville and Cairns.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Member for Cairns Michael Healy talk to an indigenous crew member onboard a reef cruise boat during a visit to Fitzroy Island, while on the election campaign trail. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Member for Cairns Michael Healy talk to an indigenous crew member onboard a reef cruise boat during a visit to Fitzroy Island, while on the election campaign trail. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Mr Healy, who holds his seat by a margin of 3.39 per cent, told a Courier-Mail debate the youth crime problem in Cairns was "not just about policing" as he raised the Howard Government policy that paid parents $5000 per child by the time it finished in 2014 after 13 years.

"These are social issues and we know that the collapse of the traditional family unit, people, ever since the Baby Bonus kicked in, people are having babies and they're not looking after them, they're running in the streets," he said.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Healy doubled down, saying he believed the Baby Bonus had contributed to families in which children were not being raised right.

"I believe the Baby Bonus contributed to this," he said.

"I believe there is evidence that certain segments in the community were taking advantage of the Baby Bonus for the money.

A vigilante-style group began patrolling the streets of Cairns in reaction to a youth crime wave earlier this year.
A vigilante-style group began patrolling the streets of Cairns in reaction to a youth crime wave earlier this year.

"... Our juvenile challenges, or the youth issues we face in our community, I believe, are the result of the collapse of the traditional family unit, substance abuse, all of these children have been neglected."

Asked what he meant by a "traditional family unit", he said that meant "a mother and a father and they work and they come home and the kids go to school".

Mr Healy said he did not believe the Howard-era policy had been "well thought through".

"I think some people didn't see it as what it was meant to be providing," he said.

"I'm just saying I think in some areas it may not have helped and I think in any fair analysis you need to look a these things."

The comments came as Ms Palaszczuk neither rejected nor supported the concept of a curfew, saying she would not be commenting on a policy LNP Leader Deb Frecklington couldn't explain.

"When Deb Frecklington can explain her policy to the public, I'm happy to make a comment," she said.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington visits Patterson Glass in Nerang on the campaign trail Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
LNP leader Deb Frecklington visits Patterson Glass in Nerang on the campaign trail Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall

Police sources told The Courier-Mail Townsville police think the plan is "a stupid idea" and can't see how it will work logistically.

They fear implementing it would result in them being accused of being racist.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has slammed the plan to fine parents $250 if their kids stay out past a curfew of 8pm for under 14 and 10pm for 15 to 17-year-olds as a "half baked idea".

Under the plan, police would have the power to take children to a refuge until their parents or a social worker collected them.

But Ms D'Ath said there was no proper detail about how the plan would work, or where these refuges would be.

Meanwhile, Ms Frecklington wouldn't say whether she will expand her curfew crackdown beyond Townsville and Cairns if the trial is deemed successful.

"The reason why it's a trial is because there is an immediate problem that needs fixing," she said.

"Townsville and Cairns has a crime problem.

"We would like to see how the trial runs out. This is a preventative measure to ensure that kids are kept safe."

Originally published as Baby Bonus to blame for Qld's youth crime crisis: Labor MP


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