Robert Schwarten is stumped by problems confronting his plan to tackle public drunkenness and disorder along the riverbank.
Robert Schwarten is stumped by problems confronting his plan to tackle public drunkenness and disorder along the riverbank.

No support for facility

IT'S the one issue in his many years in Rockhampton politics that Robert Schwarten admits has him stumped.

The Member for Rockhampton has conceded his plan to tackle public drunkenness and subsequent disorder offences among indigenous people in the city's riverbank precinct has stalled.

In June Mr Schwarten pushed to build a facility for drinkers to go to.

This idea came out of a high-powered summit in the city – attended by three key government ministers and the state's top cop – in April.

But Mr Schwarten said no one could come up with a suitable spot.

He proposed Gavial Creek, but found strong opposition from nearby home owners.

It's not the only site where residents have moved to block such a plan.

“This was a practical solution which worked in Cairns,” Mr Schwarten said.

“But I think we are a long way from having community acceptance here.

“I'd say that in my long time in politics the one thing that is not able to be cured is public drunkenness among Aboriginal people in Rockhampton.”

He said there was talk about putting problem drunks in Townsville into compulsory rehabilitation, similar to people with mental health issues.

“I will keep my eye on that, but I have my doubts,” Mr Schwarten said. “Alcoholism is an illness you can't forcibly cure.

“I've given up any hope of redeeming these people from alcohol ... there's not much point if people don't want to do it.”

He said reports to him of problems hadn't been as prevalent of late, but he was aware the situation remained.

Mr Schwarten said he'd been told about problems where large groups of people were making nuisances of themselves in public housing properties.



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