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North Queensland’s soaring rates of youth crime have done little to defer both the State Government and the NRL from moving heave and earth to relocate Game I of the 2021 State Of Origin series to Townsville.
Tonight’s blockbuster rugby league spectacular at CountryBank stadium comes amid an escalating youth crime crisis in Townsville, with police laying 1,279 property crime charges this year alone. Of those, 615 have been levelled against juvenile offenders.
Following the news that an outbreak of community transmission had triggered a snap lockdown in Melbourne, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk immediately dropped eight million dollars on the table to have the ‘neutral’ match moved to the the very non-neutral Deep North.
She made this call without consulting anyone in her cabinet, because that’s the type of shit that landslide Labor Premiers do.
While her decision was received well in the Northern Capital, there were initial concerns that visiting Origin fans might get rattled by the vast number of at-risk kids roaming the streets after dark because their home lives are awful and they are bored out of their minds.
The state government has been battling the juvenile crime epidemic before and briefly after each election for several years now, going as far as giving police more resources and reversed the presumption of bail in some circumstances to detain young offenders for longer periods of time. Operation Tango Pheasant has also been established by police to specifically tackle property crime in the region.
However, it looks as if these special powers to criminalise at-risk kids as young as ten into a life time on institutionalised helplessness won’t even need to be called upon this weekend – because there’s no youth offenders in sight.
“Looks like they’ve all been spooked away from the main drag by the league fans” says Premier Palaszczuk.
“We had extra beat cops doing the rounds but so far all they’ve had to do is break up fights and get blues fans to safety”
Townsville residents say they are enjoying the rare reprieve from car thefts and property damage, as the juvenile offenders steer clear of the scary footy fans currently running amok on The Strand.
“I don’t blame the kids from staying the hell away from the ‘adult’ crime… Remember this is the first Origin this town has hosted” said Townsville mayor, Jenny ‘From The Block’ Hill.
“It would certainly be confronting for these kids to see these Maroon and Blue fans on the rums this early in the day”