Doorstop – Minister Jason Clare with Candidate for Liechhardt Billy Gordon


12 August 2013


Police Citizens Youth Club, Cairns



Subjects: National Crime Prevention Fund; Asylum Seekers; Second Sydney airport; Kennedy candidate.


JASON CLARE: Well, it’s fantastic to be here in sunny Cairns with Labor’s candidate for Leichhardt, Billy Gordon, and Chief Superintendant, Paul Taylor, here to announce fantastic news for Far North Queensland and great news for Cairns.

Today I’m announcing $2.4 million in funds that we’ve seized from criminals to invest right here in Far North Queensland to tackle crime and prevent more crime from happening.

One of the best organisations in the country at helping young people stay on track are our PCYCs. They’ve been around for over 75 years and they do a fantastic job. There’s more than 50 clubs here in Queensland, with a membership of around about 100,000. And for generations, they’ve been helping young people who are at risk of getting into trouble to get back on track and help them live a fantastic life. And I’ve been a big supporter of PCYCs since I was a kid, and it’s great to have the opportunity, as a minister, to invest money back into the PCYC movement.

Here in Far North Queensland, we’re going to invest over half a million dollars in our clubs, including right here in Cairns where we’re going to run a program called PACT. And I’ll get Paul to tell us a little bit more about it. But this is a very simple, practical idea. Get young people, that are at risk of falling off the tracks, into the club and do the things they love doing like hip hop dancing, boxing, as well as drumming, vocational skills. Get them into the club, meet a police officer, and you can change people’s lives.

I’ve seen this happen all around the country and it’s happening right here in Cairns. This extra money will help us to do that. We’re also funding the same program at Edmonton. And we’re running another program up at Cooktown.

As part of this money, we’re also expanding our closed-circuit television cameras here in Cairns and right across Far North Queensland. In Cairns, we’ve already got over 90 closed-circuit television cameras and they do a great job in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in the community. The Council, and Cliff can talk a little bit about this because he’s an expert in it, but the Council working with JCU has identified other areas in town that need more cameras, and we’re going to invest over $300,000 to put more cameras in place.

These are mobile cameras with Wi-Fi capability that mean police officers in their cars will be able to see what’s happening through those cameras on their iPads. That’s technology helping us to fight crime. You’ll be able to sit in your police car, look at your iPad and see what’s happening on the streets in the different suburbs of Cairns.

I’ll tell you what those suburbs are. At Mooroobool, Manoora, Manunda and Edmonton. They’re the places where we’re going to put in more cameras. And that’s the Council, the University and the Federal Government working together. We’re also going to put in more cameras at Aurukun Council, Kowanyama and Northern Peninsula Council. So cameras going in where they’re needed.

CCTV is a very important crime fighting tool. We saw how important it was recently with the Boston Marathon bombing, where cameras helped to identify the suspects and catch them. And cameras are important in investigating crime, but they’re also really important in stopping crime and anti-social behaviour from happening. When you see a sign that says, you’re being watched, you’re on CCTV, you’re less likely to get up to no good and that’s the experience here in Cairns. That’s why we’re investing more money in cameras here in Cairns and right across Far North Queensland.

What these projects all have in common, whether it’s more money for Police Youth Clubs or more money for cameras is this is money seized from criminals to make our streets safer. Millions of dollars that we’ve seized from criminals right across the country to make the streets of Cairns and Far North Queensland safer, and we’re doing that by investing in things that work.

The PCYC movement, one of the best in the business, and cameras that we know work here in Cairns, and there’ll be more of them because of this money today. I might ask Billy to say a few words and then Paul.

BILLY GORDON: No worries. Look, wonderful news for Cairns and the Far North. As I’ve been campaigning around the southern suburbs particularly, there’s a lot of people talking a bit about law and order and crime and safety and these issues. It’s a credible investment, I think, in technology to help particularly our policing of some of these crime hot spots, making sure that, I think, citizens and residents of some of the southern suburbs are feeling a lot more safer.

It’s also good to see it as an investment in the preventative side of it, you know, the post crisis – or the pre-crisis stuff. We’re making an incredible investment in a program that I think changes lives. The PCYC is an institution in Far North Queensland. They’re the epicentre of community and family of young people coming together, not only just socialising, they’ve got a positive healthy lifestyle message, and it’s a great way to actually bring the community together with the Police.

Like I said, a really critical investment and it’s good to see that the investment is also reaching up into Cape York communities. We are making considerable investments there in relation to, like I said, these preventative measures, and helping communities and I think live strong healthy vibrant lifestyles.

JOURNALIST: Billy, is it the first time that these remote Aboriginal communities will have CCTV cameras?


JASON CLARE: Paul, maybe say a few words about the program we’re going to run here.

PAUL TAYLOR: The Prevent, Act, Create and Talk Program, which the money will be used for, is an excellent opportunity to engage young persons who may otherwise be involved in anti-social or criminal activity. And really it targets an opportunity to divert those people and create a resilience in them, develop a good healthy wellbeing lifestyle amongst them, and hopefully encourage them to continue on with that type of lifestyle as opposed to the alternate, which is being engaged in criminal activities.

JOURNALIST: Just in terms of the CCTVs going into Cape York communities, who is going to be monitoring those and how are they going to work in terms of how police work?

PAUL TAYLOR: Yeah there’s a range of monitoring systems in the major city, obviously the Cairns Regional Council monitor those. They’ve been extremely successful in not only preventing crime, as the Minister indicated, but also important in prosecuting crime. And there’s an excellent working relationship and partnership between local government, and also the police. In the more remote locations, again, police act on the information, and while some of those TVs mightn’t be monitored in real time, again they are utilised to follow up and act in regards to those that are participating in crime or anti-social behaviour.

JOURNALIST: Can we ask some questions?

JASON CLARE: Sure [indistinct] we just check with the guys, any other questions about this announcement?

JOURNALIST: Yeah I do for you.

JASON CLARE: Yeah. Well why don’t we keep going on this one and then we’ll go to other topics?

JOURNALIST: So Minister are these cheques being handed over already, or do they hinge on the Labor Party winning the election?

JASON CLARE: I signed off on these grants a couple of weeks ago, so this is money that has been put in the budget and will come here to Cairns. There is the chance that if a Liberal Government is elected they may decide to cancel this money. That would be a big mistake. This is money that we’ve seized from criminals, that are going to make our streets safer here in Cairns. So whatever the outcome in the election, I’d be arguing this is money that needs to be spent, and needs to be spent here in Cairns.

JOURNALIST: If this money was set aside in the budget a while ago, why is it only being announced now with the election on?

JASON CLARE: It was only signed off by me two weeks ago. We announced this fund earlier this year in March; applications were asked for from across the country; applications closed in May, they were considered by the Attorney-General’s Department over the course of the last few months; those applications – those successful applications came to me a couple of weeks ago and I signed them off, and this has been the first opportunity to get up here to Cairns to announce this funding. I think everybody would agree this is a great investment for Cairns, using money from criminals to make our streets safer.

JOURNALIST: Can we ask your thoughts on the asylum seekers that have been detained on Thursday Island – do you think the Torres Strait is going to be a new route for them to take now?

JASON CLARE: Well I know that Premier Newman has been trying to scare everybody up here, let me give you the facts. The fact is, that last year ten people crossed from PNG to – across the Torres Strait – and ten people have made that same journey this year. The difference now is that everybody that crosses the Torres Strait without a visa will get flown to Manus Island. No one will be processed here, no one will be settled here. That’s the difference. Whether you come by boat from Indonesia, or anywhere else, if you don’t have a visa you get flown to Papua New Guinea and you’ll get settled there. So I know there are – the Premier is trying to scare everybody witless about this, there’s a very clear message: you get on a boat without a visa, you’ll get flown to PNG, and you’ll be processed and settled there.

JOURNALIST: The local LNP members called for a Border Protection permanent presence on Saibai Island, is that something the Government might be prepared to look at?

JASON CLARE: We’ve got 13 Customs officers on the islands, as well as a team that can fly out from here, at Cairns, at short notice – a team of six. On top of that we’ve got two helicopters at Horn Island, and we’ve got two boats at Thursday Island. So we’ve got the resources on the ground, and the ability to get in the air and on the sea at short notice. And I’ll take my advice about the resources we need from Border Protection Command.

JOURNALIST: And is that sufficient, do you think, the resources that we have currently?

JASON CLARE: Well they’ve enabled us to detect and to intercept, but I’ll take advice from Border Protection Command about where we need to best place our resources.

JOURNALIST: And what do you make of comments that the PNG sort of approach has made the northern Australian border more porous, and made residents more susceptible to getting diseases?

JASON CLARE: Well this is nonsense from Campbell Newman, trying to scare people. And the proof of that is that Tony Abbott and the Liberals actually support this plan. They know that when people come by boat there’s a risk of people drowning. We’ve got to remove the incentive for people to get on to a boat, and the best way to do that is to say: the rules have changed, if you come here by boat you won’t stay in Australia, you’ll get flown to Papua New Guinea. So whether you come on a boat from PNG, or from Indonesia, you’ll be flown to PNG or Nauru – you won’t be settled in Australia. That’s a simple fact.

JOURNALIST: And the Prime Minster Kevin Rudd was asked about a second airport for Sydney in yesterday’s debate, he gave a pretty vague answer. Were you satisfied with his response to that?

JASON CLARE: Well, Sydney will need a second airport. I live in Sydney, I know how congested it is, I know how long it takes sometimes to get on a plane or to get to the airport. And we’ve said that we need to make a decision about the location of Sydney’s second airport in the next term of Government. The Opposition said that as well, that’s good, that’s important, we need a bipartisan approach to the location and construction of a second airport for Sydney.

JOURNALIST: Would you be leaning towards Holsworthy, or?

JASON CLARE: No one’s suggested Holsworthy, that’s the first time I’ve heard about that.

JOURNALIST: Oh hang on, isn’t it Holsworthy? Oh wait. I used to live there a long time [indistinct]. I’ve forgotten now. Where’s the one that everyone says it should be at? The…

JASON CLARE: Well some people say Badgerys Creek.

JOURNALIST: Sorry that’s the one.

JASON CLARE: Other people say Wilton, and there’s an analysis being done at the moment about the best location. So I’ll let the experts decide where the best location is, and then the decision has to be made and construction begin.

JOURNALIST: And just finally, are you embarrassed about the way in which the Kennedy candidate, Ken Robertson, had to stand down from his position?

JASON CLARE: I think he did the right thing in standing down. This is a campaign where we’ve got to focus on the issues, not the people.

JOURNALIST: And will that candidate be replaced now? Or are you going to leave Mr Katter unchallenged in Kennedy by Labor?

JASON CLARE: Those are decisions that aren’t made by me, they’re made by the party headquarters, so I’ll leave it up to them to make that decision. My focus here is on making sure that we use the money we seize from criminals, make our streets safer here in Cairns and right across the country.

JOURNALIST: Billy do you mind if I just throw the same question to you? How do you feel about a fellow candidate in Kennedy stepping down from his post?

BILLY GORDON: Look there’s not one bit of my time or energy that I can focus on commenting outside of Leichhardt. All my energy and time and effort is here, in this campaign.


Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111