Gympie in midst of crime surge: Shadow Attorney-General
GYMPIE is experiencing a crime surge, according to Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker.
One group of offences had risen 70% in frequency compared to the previous 12 months, according to figures Mr Walker produced during a visit to Gympie on Tuesday.
However, Mr Walker, who is also Shadow Planning Minister, said he was very positive about Gympie's future.
Bruce Hwy improvements had brought Gympie much closer to Brisbane and the reigon was emerging as an ideal rural residential area close to major centres and the capital.
But he said worsening crime was a concern that needed to be addressed.
Crime figures in the Gympie statistical area for 12 months to August 16 showed big increases in five categories of crime.
Assault numbers were up 12% from 116 cases to 130, unlawful entry is up 13.7% from 131 to 149, drug offences are up 22.9% from 667 to 820, unlawful use of motor vehicles is up 57.1% from 35 to 55 and other offences against the person (including sexual assaults and stalking) rose 70%, from 20 to 34 cases, Mr Walker said.
"The crime issue is one that's always on people's minds," he said in an interview with The Gympie Times.
"We took action in Government to help bring the figures down, but it's creeping up again. "It's creeping up again," Mr Walker said.
He was in Gympie as a guest of MP Tony Perrett and spoke to solicitors, court officials and judges.
"I'm interested in how they see these figures and what needs to be done to stop us going back to the old days," he said.
"We're concerned at Labor's watering down of the bikie laws.
Inquiries, including Michael Byrne QC's report on organised crime showed that bikies were the significant players in the illicit drug market.
"Unlawful entry crimes are often people looking for money for drugs.
"We're also concerned at the review of some of our youth justice laws, with a softening there as well," he said.
As Shadow Planning Minister, Mr Walker also held talks with Mayor Mick Curran and Gympie Regional Council CEO Bernard Smith.
"I think the future for Gympie is very positive, particularly with improvements to the Bruce Hwy.
"Just coming up today, I feel Gympie is much closer to Brisbane than it was," he said.
"We've got to look at planning regulations and laws that ensure Gympie can grow and at the same time retain its traditional character, including its rural residential feel, which is a great asset for this part of the state."