Gunner admits failings on crime, pledges ‘significant work’ as MLAs unconvinced

by | Feb 8, 2021 | Cops, News | 3 comments

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says he understands why Territorians are angry with him about an ongoing crime crisis across the NT and has pledged “significant work” to fix things, but opposition and crossbench MLAs remain sceptical.

Mr Gunner spent the majority of an interview on Mix 104.9 Monday morning defending his handling of crime, with many listeners relaying their frustrations with his perceived lack of action and failure to listen to the community.

“We’ve done a lot. And I get it,” Mr Gunner said. “If you’re out there right now and you are a victim of crime, then what we’ve done hasn’t worked for you, then you have a right to be angry.

“If you’re a victim of crime, you have an absolute right to be angry and I’m the Chief Minister and the responsibility starts and stops with me and so you have a right to be angry with me too. We’ve got to keep working.”

Mr Gunner said his government would be working on “a couple of things this year that goes to legislation and consequences”. The three main pillars of which are stopping property crime and vehicle theft, pursuing ring leaders, and giving police the ability to make young offenders take part in “visible community restitution”.

Mr Gunner was vague about how he intended to execute the first plank of stopping property crime that many have said is out of control.

When asked why he did not meet with Alice Springs residents and community leaders to hear their concerns about crime on a recent visit, Mr Gunner said he listens “all the time” and has gone “on patrol” during previous visits.

“I do that all the time. And I’m happy to do that next time in Alice, as well,” he said.

“So, that’s a regular thing I do in Alice. Usually, I go out on patrol with police and Territory Families workers at different times of night and see what’s going on, as well. So, I do a lot of that work when I go down to Alice so I absolutely accept that responsibility as Chief. So, I get to Alice a lot and obviously do that in Alice regularly.”

Meeting with Alice Springs MLAs on crime ‘limited by political ideology’: Lambley

Mr Gunner defended his ongoing position that bail laws are not an issue and said bail was only “for a very brief period of time” and legislative changes would not be happening, choosing instead to focus on “preventing crime”.

He also pointed to boot camps and an Alice Springs youth drop in centre as successes. He said during the 2019-20 financial year, 67 kids went through 11 different boot camps with 85 per cent of those not re-offending. It was unclear how the government measured that.

Mr Gunner did not say how many young offenders are currently wearing monitoring bracelets, when asked about reports the technology was not being used.

“If they’re not being used, it might be a technical thing,” he said. “We have to find out from police if they’re not using it, why they’re not using it.”

Independent Alice Springs MLA Robyn Lambley, along with CLP MLAs Josh Burgoyne and Bill Yan, met with Central Australia Minister Chansey Paech on Friday to discuss the town’s ongoing crime problems.

Ms Lambley said she was pleased the government had finally met with the crossbench MLAs to discuss crime, but was concerned about “getting sucked into the vortex of endless meetings and bureau-babble”.

“What we will not get from these discussions is strong ministerial leadership or coordination on crime for our town, strategies that actually remove or actively dissuade children from roaming the streets at night and changes to bail laws for juveniles,” she said.

 

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