Tag: Queensland Government

Extra police officers flown into Aurukun after alleged stabbing murder and riots

Aurukun 4871

Extra police officers have been flown into a remote Indigenous community in Far North Queensland after the fatal stabbing of a 37-year-old man on New Year’s Day and a riot overnight, with police saying the situation remains volatile.

Key points:

  • Two men, aged 17 and 18, have been charged over the murder of a man in Aurukun on New Year’s Day
  • Six homes were firebombed and burnt down as members of the community rioted following the death
  • The local police station and Queensland Government buildings were placed in lockdown overnight

More than 250 residents at Aurukun in Cape York took to the streets in the early hours of this morning, armed with star pickets, metal bars and spear guns.

Six homes were burnt to the ground and a further two are now uninhabitable.

The town’s police station and government buildings were put in lockdown as an angry mob went from house to house “seeking retribution” after the man was stabbed in the stomach on New Year’s Day.

He died in the local health clinic and two men, aged 17 and 18, have been charged with his murder.

The 18-year-old appeared at the Cairns Magistrates Court this morning, via phone link from Weipa. He was remanded in custody and will reappear in April.

The younger man will be dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.


There were a dozen officers at Aurukun at the time of the riot. (Supplied: Queensland Police Service)

‘All armed, all aggressive’

Police Superintendent Geoff Sheldon said a group had targeted the health clinic at 6:00pm on New Year’s Day, before moving on to the airport and the homes of the accused men.

“They were seeking vengeance for the stabbing that occurred and they were going house to house looking for what they believed were two offenders responsible for the death of the man,” he said.

“It become a violent confrontation at each and every residence.

“There were 250 people wandering the streets of Aurukun — all armed, all aggressive — and it became a dangerous situation, not only for our staff, but members of the public and other government staff.”


CCTV image of several homes set on fire in Aurukun. (Supplied: Queensland Police Service)

Superintendent Sheldon said there were a dozen officers at Aurukun at the time of the incident, but more police were being flown in from Cairns and Brisbane, as well as neighbouring areas, including Weipa and Coen.

He said many of the police officers would sleep on the floor of the local courthouse to “bring peace” to the community.


About 250 residents were armed with star pickets, metal bars and spear guns. (Supplied: Queensland Police Service)

Superintendent Sheldon said the situation still remained volatile.

“There’s still hundreds of men, women and children that are cowering in their own houses,” he said.

“There is every instance and every chance of something happening, so that’s why we are working with the members of the community, the elders, the justice group.”


Superintendent Sheldon said the situation remained volatile. (ABC News: Kristy Sexton-McGrath)

Cape York Inspector Mark Henderson said the community was in severe unrest and that officers were doing everything they could to keep the community safe.

“A number of houses have been totally incinerated after being firebombed by offenders,” Inspector Henderson said.

“Extra police are being flown in from right across the north to secure the Aurukun region and return some sort of law and order to the community.”

Dog squad officers from Cairns arrived in the community early this morning.

A spokeswoman for Aurukun Shire Council said it was working with police to assist where required, including finding alternative accommodation for families who could not return to their homes.


Extra police have been flown to the Cape York Indigenous community of Aurukun. (Tim O’Reilly: Supplied)

Sly grog a contributing factor

The alleged murder at Aurukun happened less than a day after another man was stabbed in the chest at a home at Kowanyama, also in Cape York.

The 40-year-old victim was flown to the Townsville Hospital in a critical condition.

Detectives have not yet laid charges over that incident.

Inspector Henderson said sly grog was a contributing factor to both alleged disputes.


Police say they seized these bottles of alcohol on the way into Aurukun earlier this week. (Suppled: Queensland Police)

A complete alcohol ban is in place in most communities in Cape York, under the Queensland Government’s alcohol management plans.

“Alcohol has played a huge factor in both the Kowanyama and Aurukun matters,” Inspector Henderson said.

“Alcohol getting into these communities in an absolute evil that brings nothing but evil.

“The Indigenous mayors work with police and myself daily to try and stop the alcohol coming in and we are doing everything we possibly can.”

Earlier this week, police seized 65 bottles of rum on the way into Aurukun.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Documents reveal the Queensland Government plan to tackle climate change decades ago

Brisbane 4000

It is no exaggeration to call 1989 a tumultuous year for Queensland’s people and politics, although it was also a time of change across the globe.

Key points:

  • Three men held office as Queensland premier in 1989
  • Mike Ahern’s cabinet was warned not to delay action on climate change
  • The National Party was swept from power in a landslide Labor victory

It was the year the electoral fortunes of the long-reigning National Party collapsed, one of the worst pilot strikes in Australian history, a hotly contested daylight-saving debate and one of the first known official warnings about climate change.

Cabinet papers from that year — now public for the first time — reveal the full nature of climate warnings at the time, including cautions about “serious repercussions on the Queensland economy” if authorities failed to respond to changing sentiments in Europe and abroad.

In April, a committee commissioned by then-premier Mike Ahern warned his government to plan to reduce greenhouse emissions, prepare the economy for a significant shift in world markets and investigate how Queensland might respond to declining coal exports.

The committee’s report also said it was “probable that some climatic changes will occur”, based on a leading report by the World Meteorological Organisation.


Major coastal erosion in rough surf at Tugun on the Gold Coast in December 1989. (Supplied: Queensland State Archives)

“Despite the lack of indisputable scientific evidence of the onset of greenhouse conditions, it appears inevitable that action will be taken both nationally and internationally to respond to this issue,” the submission concluded.

“Our export industries are too valuable to the state’s economy to risk their future by ignoring the clear signs that the international community is taking the greenhouse question seriously and moving towards conditions of energy conservation and gas emission limitation.

“To delay examination of strategies for Queensland under such conditions until the technical arguments are fully resolved, could unnecessarily increase the state’s economic vulnerability to decisions taken elsewhere.”

Mr Ahern and his cabinet agreed to spend $1.5 million over four years to develop a strategy to respond to international action, collect data on sea level rises and climate monitoring, and assist the CSIRO with further studies.


Queensland’s three premiers in 1989 (from left) Mike Ahern, Russell Cooper and Wayne Goss. (Supplied)

Three premiers in four months

The biggest political news of the year came at the December election with the National Party swept from power, ending a conservative reign of more than 30 years — much of it with Joh Bjelke-Petersen as premier.

Prior to the election, Mr Ahern’s attempt to set about reform after the departure of his predecessor Sir Joh proved to be short-lived.


Mike Ahern said implementing the Fitzgerald recommendations was what Queenslanders expected. (ABC News: Josh Bavas)

In September, Mr Ahern was rolled by Russell Cooper, not long after pledging to implement recommendations from the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption “lock, stock and barrel”.

Mr Ahern recently told the ABC it was a tough decision to announce changes, but it was what the public expected.

“Particularly at a time of tremendous change — we were recommending a totally different mosaic of mechanisms of government that were going to be implemented different to what had happened over the last 20 years and so that’s tough,” he said.

“For a whole lot of people, they had a whole lot of trouble grasping it.

“I just decided with my wife that we would go and do what was ours to do — and if there was a cost like that to pay, well then, we’d pay it and go and do something else if need be.”

Mr Cooper had been premier for less than three months when Wayne Goss emerged the victor from a landslide election result for Labor in December.

Dr Jonathan Richards from Queensland State Archives said Mr Goss immediately introduced a suite of reforms after his historic election win.

“It goes from chaos to complete order,” Dr Richards said.


Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York with Mike Ahern and wife Andrea in Brisbane.

“The first meeting [of the Goss Government] just talks about what does a cabinet do — one of the things they discuss is a cabinet handbook.

“The National Party had never even had that kind of conversation — not in all the years I’ve ever looked at — cabinet was just a free-for-all.

“Goss lays out half a dozen rules that are so clear and common sense, you think ‘why on Earth had nobody done this before?’,”

Daylight saving revolt

Before the National Party was swept from office, cabinet documents show it was divided on a proposal to introduce daylight saving in Queensland.

The first trial of daylight saving was launched in August 1989, with a special taskforce noting fierce opposition in western Queensland and concerns over changes to TV programming, increased skin cancer rates and fierce opposition from dairy farmers fearful about changes to milking times.

Dr Richards said it was never going to happen without a fight, but Premier Ahern had been willing to give it a go.

“Ministers were quite convinced. They said, ‘well, it might be popular in Brisbane but nobody out in the bush wants it so therefore we’ve got to get rid of it’, not stopping to think of the numbers of people hugely out of whack,” he said.

Video: Premier Mike Ahern says daylight saving needs serious consideration

(ABC News)

Pilot strike kept feet on ground

Cabinet papers from late that year also reveal how authorities grappled with one of the nation’s biggest pilot strikes, which began in August.

The Royal Australian Air Force was brought in to help ease the pressure when pilots from the two former major operators, Ansett and Australian Airlines walked off the job.

In Queensland, the strike had significant ramifications for the tourism industry, forcing the State Government to take drastic action.


The Berlin Wall came down late in 1989.

Cabinet even sent tourism minister Rob Borbidge to the United Kingdom to secure an aircraft to be used to service the routes between Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns.

By then, the strike was estimated to have cost the Queensland tourism industry about $160 million.

‘Status quo disrupted’

The current Minister for Digital Technology Mick de Brenni said 1989 was a transitional year.

“[It] was a historic year globally with the fall of the Berlin Wall and it was when the internet came to Australia,” he said.

“Politically for Queensland, there’s never been a year quite like 1989 before and there’s never been a year like 1989 since.

“In the end, I think the papers and history show us the nail in the coffin for the National Party government was the rolling of premier Mike Ahern for Russell Cooper.

“The cabinet papers show Ahern’s commitment to implementing the [Fitzgerald Inquiry] recommendations ‘lock, stock and barrel’, but that seriously disrupted the Nationals’ status quo and normal approach to the business of government.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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