Sergeant Paul Christensen and Sergeant Mac Duus keep a look over the Riverside car park yesterday.
Sergeant Paul Christensen and Sergeant Mac Duus keep a look over the Riverside car park yesterday. Adam Wratten Aw

Rocky summit to tackle public disorder

MEMBER for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten will meet police next week as he organises a high-powered summit to tackle the city’s escalating public disorder problem.

Yesterday Mr Schwarten said he’d been given approval by Premier Anna Bligh to bring several key ministers to Rockhampton for the summit which will be held early next year.

He said it was time to act after he’d fielded a growing number of complaints about public behaviour in the city.

Many of the complaints concern drunken indigenous people causing problems in and around the CBD’s public places.

“Part of the issue here is having to face up to this reality ... it’s no good saying one thing and meaning another,” Mr Schwarten said referring to the minority of unruly indigenous people.

“I’m not saying these people are causing all of the issues, we have got problems in this city also with drugs and alcohol and violence, but I’m getting many complaints about these people.”

He said the ministers who would attend included those responsible for health, police, liquor licensing, communities, indigenous affairs, housing and the Attorney General.

Mr Schwarten said any solution needed the involvement of both the local and federal governments as well as the broader community.

“We need to have a level of co-operation,” he said.

“I have spoken with Kirsten Livermore (Federal MP) and Brad Carter (Mayor) about the situation.”

He said Rockhampton had always had people living rough in the city, but recent disorder problems had escalated.

Problems coincided with the removal of alcohol from the Aboriginal community at Woorabinda.

“We have seen people moving out of Aboriginal communities and coming to Rockhampton,” Mr Schwarten said.

“The question has to be asked: should people who get assistance from government and spend it all on grog, then get fed by the community?”

Capricornia police Inspector Marcus Hill said a meeting would be held next Friday at which stakeholders would discuss issues of crime and public disorder along the riverbank and in the CBD.

Inspector Hill said Rockhampton was not alone in problems arising where new high-density developments were built in areas which had previously housed homeless people.

“As high-density residences occur new businesses come in and there is some displacement or disruption caused,” Inspector Hill said.

“These same problems existed at Kurilpa in Brisbane.”

Cr Carter said a number of complaints had been made to council about anti-social behaviour.

He said he was delighted a summit would be held and council would play an active role in tackling the issue.

What’s proposed? A summit involving key government representatives, police and other stakeholders;

Why? To tackle the problem of escalating public disorder and street crime in Rockhampton;

When? Robert Schwarten will meet with key stakeholders and police next week, with the goal of holding the summit early next year.

A crime summit in Rockhampton is a fantastic opportunity to clean this city up and lay a template to fight the scourge of drug, alcohol and substance abuse sweeping this nation.

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