Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backflips on plan

Alex DruceNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

The Queensland government has bowed to public pressure and cancelled plans for a controversial youth remand centre on the Sunshine Coast.

The state government on Monday confirmed it would no longer repurpose the Caloundra police watchhouse into a 24-hour remand facility for offenders aged 10 to 15 following sustained public opposition.

The 28 to 30-bed facility was initially planned to help Queensland handle an increased number of young offenders entering the system following the passing of tough new youth crime laws last April.

The Caloundra Watchhouse will no longer be repurposed as a youth remand centre.
Camera IconThe Caloundra Watchhouse will no longer be repurposed as a youth remand centre. Credit: News Regional Media

The Sunshine Coast Daily reported last July that $5m had been set aside for the Caloundra remand facility in the 2021-22 Queensland budget, with local Labor MP Jason Hunt initially declaring the watchhouse an ideal location.

But by late 2021 he had changed his tune to mirror the backlash, with the community letting its opinion be known via 753 submissions on a government survey.

Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard on Monday confirmed the results of the survey were key in putting the youth remand centre on ice.

“That (survey) process found that Caloundra wasn’t the right place for this temporary centre – we welcome the feedback, we listened to the community’s concerns and we have acted on those concerns,” she said.

Caloundra MP Jason Hunt initially backed plans for the youth remand centre before changing his tune in line with the public backlash.
Camera IconCaloundra MP Jason Hunt initially backed plans for the youth remand centre before changing his tune in line with the public backlash. Credit: News Corp Australia

Acting Premier Stephen Miles told reporters the facility had initially been planned to help government process an increasing number of young people entering the system.

The Palaszczuk government’s youth crime reforms, which followed the 2020 election win, included the introduction of enhanced bail monitoring for youth offenders, the presumption against bail for high risk repeat offenders, and plans to trial GPS devices to monitor high risk repeat youth offenders.

Mr Miles confirmed the Caloundra watchhouse will continue to be used by police as an operational watchhouse and the government will continue to progress the business case announced last year for additional youth detention capacity.

The LNP Opposition had been vocal opponents of the Caloundra watchhouse and have also attacked the government for being weak on crime.

Opposition leader David Crisafulli criticised Labor for not yet acting on its GPS trial proposal and said ‘breach of bail’ should be introduced as a new charge for youth offenders.

Originally published as Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backflips on plan

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