If you live in Far North Queensland, we’ve got some good news and we’ve got some bad news. The bad news is you’re currently in the grip of a crime wave that defies description… and logical statistical analysis. The good news is that’s just the opinion of some News Corp hacks plus one old man who spends his lunch breaks on a park bench shouting at clouds… because they’re really toxic gas blooms controlled by Vladimir Putin! Over to Ed’s Desk, an occasional New Matilda column where we take an actual news story that got published, and waste 10 minutes of your life trying to fix it.
[BYLINE] Peter Gleeson | Courier Mail
[INTRO] We need to divert police resources away from Townsville and Cairns and redeploy them to the southeast because it’s clear, based on how they vote, Far North Queenslanders have put the white flag up on crime, writes Peter Gleeson.
[ED’S NOTE] Hahahaha, good one Peter. Channelling the boys from the Betoota Advocate! Still, this is a serious topic. Will have the subs desk amend, but thanks for the laugh!
[BODY COPY] ‘Big spike in FNQ crime’. That was the front-page headline last week in the Cairns Post, as it reported an 87 per cent increase in armed robberies over the past 12 months.
ED’S NOTE: Oh shit…. you’re serious… okay, sorry… Peter, the headline was actually ‘Big RISE in FNQ crime’. There’s an important difference between a ‘spike’ and a ‘rise’. A spike suggests it might be temporary, whereas a rise infers longevity. Company policy is to scare people into impulse purchases ‘over the longer-term’. You should already be across this, but in the event of future confusion, please consult page 65 of the News Corp style manual, headed ‘How to scare the bejeezus out of everyone’. It’s in the ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’ chapter, just after the section titled ‘Stocking up on canned goods for the apocalypse, with Alan Jones’.
Also… I know you’re just trying to do your job by upsetting Courier-Mail readers, and so it’s not your job to fact-check the Cairns Post… but FFS Peter, it’s the Cairn’s Post. I checked the stats. They’re both wrong, and wildly misleading (i.e. it’s technically impossible to be wrong AND misleading at the same time, and yet….). For future reference, in the past decade, Cairns had two bad months (February and March 2020) where armed robberies ‘spiked’ (see what I did there, Peter). The Cairns Post has relied on this to skew the results. In truth, the average number of armed robberies per month from 2001 to 2010, and from 2011-2020 is 29 and 31, respectively…. i.e. in other words, the actual rate of armed robberies on a per head of population basis this decade is lower than it was in the previous decade. Long story short… you’ve chosen a non-story to write your own non-story about. You might need to think about choosing a different non-story to base your non-story on. Also… it literally took me 10 minutes to check these stats, Peter. I realize that’s normally how long it takes you to write your whole column, but still…?
Similar horror stories are seen just about every day in Townsville, with about a dozen cars stolen every night.
ED’S NOTE: Okay Peter… I checked these stats as well. Took me 30 seconds. If by ‘about a dozen cars stolen every night’ you meant ‘two’, then yeah… you’re bang on. But if you actually meant ‘about a dozen cars stolen every night’… well, then you made that up. Can you please direct me to where you got your figures from? I like to get mine from the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, but I’m wondering if you’ve stumbled across some other ‘secret magical statistical wonderland’ that I don’t know about which might have ‘data’ more in-line with News Corp’s 2020-2025 corporate plan? Either way, for future reference, actual car thefts in Townsville in 2020 were 6.3% lower than they were in 2016, and 8.3% lower in the final quarter of 2020 than for the final quarter of 2019… i.e. car thefts are down, so that’s a non-story as well. Here’s the link. Please get creative, or delete.
Yet when given the chance to vote against Labor’s soft on crime policies at the last election, North Queensland voters decided to stick with the status quo, re-electing every Labor MP. At least on the Gold Coast, where youth crime in particular is out of control, they vote for the LNP, hopeful that one day a government will get fair dinkum about crime and start implementing policies that work.
ED’S NOTE: Peter… I assumed you already knew this, but we pay you to write opinion pieces, not news stories. So you don’t have to pretend to be unbiased. If you want to tell people to vote for the LNP, then just come straight out and tell people to vote for the LNP! It’s your column, you can say whatever you want. Although having said that, you can’t say what you said above (about the Gold Coast) because if anyone checks the stats (like I did, but you didn’t) they’ll realize that three of the 11 Gold Coast seats are held by the LNP with margins of 2 per cent or less. And one of the Gold Coast seats is actually held by Labor, with a margin of 13.5 per cent. So, you know, your whole theory is bullshit. Also, compared to Townsville car theft rates are higher in Brisbane, Logan and Moreton Bay… all regions with a mix of Labor and LNP seats that swing either way. Please rework paragraph, and if in doubt, just attack the Greens as per News Corp style manual.
So, here’s my take on what needs to happen to reduce crime in Queensland. Firstly, we need to divert a big chunk of police resources away from Townsville and Cairns and redeploy them to the southeast of the state, particularly the Gold Coast. It is now clear North Queenslanders have put the white flag up on crime. They’re obviously prepared to live with young thugs terrorising them after dark, continuing to vote for a Labor Government that hasn’t got solutions. If that’s the case, put the policing into areas that appreciate it.
ED’S NOTE: ‘If that’s the case…?’ It’s your job to TELL READERS that’s the case (or not) Peter, not to posit two paragraphs of nonsensical drivel and then undermine that drivel with the caveat ‘If that’s the case….’ Please remove flip-flop, harden up the paragraph and FFS man, at least have the courage of your uninformed and ill-considered conviction.
Secondly, we need to strip the welfare benefits of the parents of juvenile delinquents. If that doesn’t work, send them to jail for a few months so that their children can pontificate on their own actions as their parents cool their heels in the slammer. Nothing quite like the laser-like focus of your Mum or Dad keeping you in line, fearful they may end up in prison. At the very least, a night curfew should be applied to children under age 16.
ED’S NOTE: For fuck’s sake, Peter. Half the senior staff of News Corporation have children with drug addictions and assault convictions. Who the fuck do you think is going to put the Courier-Mail out when ‘Pete’s Law’ kicks in and empties our newsroom? These stories aren’t going to make themselves up, Peter? Revise paragraph please.
Thirdly, knives must not be easily accessible. We restrict the sale of spray cans, but not knives. Carrying a knife, other than for work, should be a criminal offence. Maybe we could introduce a moratorium on knives and ask for them to be handed in, like a buyback process. How about we introduce a law where if you are caught carrying a knife, you lose your licence for six months. Crush their cars as well. They’ll soon get the message.
ED’S NOTE: Okay, wow. How about we introduce a law where people who refuse to take their medication don’t get columns in mainstream media? And who the fuck is ‘they’? One minute you’re ranting about ‘juvenile delinquents’ and the next it’s ‘people in cars with licenses and knives’. Is car-knife crime actually even a thing, because I can’t find any stats on it? And yeah, brilliant, Peter. Let’s have a fucking taxpayer-funded buyback on knives, because no-one would ever think to import a shit-tonne of knives from any one of the gazillion places on planet earth where you can buy them, and then sell them to the state government for a huge profit. And are you going to stand at the Queensland border and rat through the caravans of grey nomads, then haul them off to jail when you find their knives? And then crush their cars? Maybe we could seize their caravans too, that way all the homeless people will have somewhere to live after you bankrupt the government and tank our fucking economy with your fucking ‘knife buyback scheme’? Delete the whole par please and just restrict yourself to two half-formed brain farts.
In 2013, Judge Clive Wall submitted a paper to the government titled Is The Childrens Court Working? In his paper, Judge Wall urged widespread reform of the Act, suggesting a juvenile who offends while on parole be resentenced on the original charge. Incredibly, this does not happen.
ED’S NOTE: I’m not sure there’s anything ‘incredible’ about that not happening Peter, and I’m also not sure you understand how ‘parole’ works…? When someone ‘breaches their parole’, they can be sent back to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence… i.e. that’s the whole point of a parole system… if someone doesn’t learn their lesson you can add an additional punishment without having to go back to court for re-sentencing. Anyhoo… I checked Judge Wall’s paper and I think what you mean is that he recommends juveniles on ‘good behaviour orders’ should be re-sentenced if they re-offend. And of course, the difference between a ‘good behaviour order’ and ‘parole’ is a little thing called ‘freedom’. I think you probably should just delete the whole par, Peter… and maybe not write on law and order issues again…?
He also suggested probation orders of up to two years be introduced for juveniles, and that any youth who breaches a wholly or partly suspended detention order be re-sentenced, just like an adult. Judge Wall also said parental obligations needed to be tightened, and if juveniles breached curfew, the parents should be held accountable by law. Nothing is working. Why do we put up with this madness, especially the people of NQ?
ED’S NOTE: So as I mentioned Peter, I read Judge Wall’s paper. I think you probably should too because you’re purporting to write about it. It’s available here. Judge Wall references dozens of incidents of juvenile crime, heated community discussion and political comment. Almost without exception, all of the incidences occurred when the LNP was in power. So, you know, it kind of completely fucking undermines the whole bat-shit crazy point of your column… namely that people should vote LNP because they’re big on fighting crime. What makes it all so much worse Peter, is that of the last 23 years, the LNP has been in power in Queensland for less than three of them. They had such a small window of opportunity to fuck things up, and so did you. And yet….
Can you please amend your column as above. And stop by my office the next time you’re in the building.
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