NQ Origin duo can fly back to Townsville


Queensland State of Origin duo Coen Hess and Valentine Holmes will be able to fly home to Townsville on Thursday after finally being granted clearance by state health officials.

Maroons players and officials had remained in limbo as late as Tuesday about how they would exit the NRL’s bubble and enter quarantine in the state.

Officials had been waiting on answers from Queensland Health, with individual exit plans made for each player and staff member on their movements after Wednesday’s decider.

Those were finally approved by the state government on Tuesday afternoon, alleviating some stress within the camp.

All staff and players will need to serve at least one week in quarantine, where they will still have to practice social distancing among family members.

The first night will be spent in camp on the Gold Coast immediately after the game, before each player goes their own way.

But the situation was even trickier for the Cowboys duo based in Townsville, given the distance and transport required to return home.

At one stage it was feared they could have to make a 14-hour trip by road, a task virtually impossible given the need to rest and refuel.

However approval was given late on Tuesday afternoon to travel by plane, with personal protective equipment to distance themselves from other passengers.

It comes at the end of a long year for exhausted NRL players and officials after first entering the league’s bio-safe bubble in May to keep the game going.

Melbourne players such as Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Josh Addo-Carr and Ryan Papenhuyzen have not been home since June when the Storm were forced into an interstate camp.

Players and officials from both Origin teams have been tested regularly for COVID while in camp, as well as filling out several health and wellbeing reports each day.

Queensland Health were approached for comment but did not respond.





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Townsville police condemn ‘vigilante behaviour’ after charging man over alleged pursuit of teens in stolen car that crashed


North Queensland police have condemned “vigilante behaviour” after charging a “reckless” Townsville man who allegedly chased three teenagers in a stolen car until it crashed.

Police said the 48-year-old man spotted the trio driving in the Townsville suburb of Gulliver on Saturday night and then chased the vehicle at high speed down the wrong side of the road.

The stolen car lost control and crashed into a power pole in the neighbouring suburb of Currajong.

Police alleged the man mounted the kerb to corner the teenagers and chased them in his car when they fled through a nearby property.

He was arrested a short time later and charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle, possession of a weapon and driving an unregistered vehicle.

Police set up cordons, called in the dog squad and discovered a 13-year-old Cairns boy hiding under a house.

The teenager was charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle, trespass and possession of dangerous drugs.

‘Grabbed his arm’

Currajong resident Matt James said he found the teenager hiding behind a fridge under his house.

“He looked straight at me and went up to run so I just sort of grabbed his arm and called for the police to come in and get him.

“He asked me to let him go but I told him there was no chance that was happening.”

Acting District Superintendent Sean Dugger said the pursuit could have easily ended in tragedy.

“Leave the policing to the police,” he said.

“People will actually argue on the pretext that it’s in the community’s safety, when these types of actions actually cause more danger to the community.”

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Four teenagers were killed when this car hit a traffic light in Townsville in June

Police have alleged both cars were driving well above the 60 kilometres per hour speed limit.

Superintendent Dugger said it was only by the “grace of God and good luck” that no-one was seriously injured in the incident.

Four teenagers were killed in June when a stolen car crashed into a Townsville traffic light pole.

“It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination that we could be investigating coronial matters today,” Superintendent Dugger said.

Mr James said he often heard cars speeding past his house, but had never witnessed an incident like this.

“Chasing kids in a car like that is just going to lead to either the kids killing themselves or someone else because they can’t control these cars,” he said.

A senior policeman standing at the entrance to Townsville police station
Acting District Superintendent Sean Dugger said police believe the man was looking for stolen cars.(ABC News: Sofie Wainwright)

‘Vigilante behaviour’

Superintendent Dugger said officers also uncovered a tyre iron in the man’s car which police would allege had been intended for use against car thieves.

“We do understand the frustration of some members of the community with these sort of offences occurring within the Townsville district, but all I can say is police continually and successfully target these offenders.

“That does not excuse the 48-year-old man’s actions or any type of this sort of vigilante behaviour.

“We won’t be tolerating criminal activity by any person, [even if] their intentions are, in their mind, honourable.”

The man has been bailed to appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court on December 2.

Police are still searching for the two other teenagers involved in the crash.



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LNP’s Queensland election pitch to enforce Townsville youth curfew branded ‘a dog pound for kids’ by Katter’s Australian Party


Young people in Townsville and Cairns would be subject to curfews and parents fined $250 if their unaccompanied children are found out at night “without a reasonable excuse” under an LNP election pledge that advocates say could breach the UN convention.

Speaking in the key battleground of Townsville on day 16 of the campaign, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington declared an LNP government would “fix the juvenile crime problem” in the two cities by trialling an 8:00pm curfew for children aged 14 and under, and a 10:00pm curfew for 15 to 17-year-olds.

Under the plan, police would be given powers to take unsupervised youths off the streets and place them in refuges for an undetermined period.

“This is about making sure that parents become responsible for their children,” Ms Frecklington said.

“If you are on the streets doing the wrong thing, then you will be taken off the streets so the community is kept safe.”

Ms Frecklington said parents would also be fined $250 each time the young person was picked up by authorities.

The policy is similar to an LNP proposal at the 2017 state election to trial a 10:00pm curfew on children under 16 in Townsville.

‘A little bit ludicrous’

But Katter’s Australian Party MP Nick Dametto said today’s curfew announcement would turn police into “pound officers”.

“Picking kids up off the street and taking them to a designated location until their parents pick them up where they’ll give them a fine sounds like we’re setting up a dog pound for kids,” Mr Dametto said.

“The idea of getting kids off the street, fully support that — but there needs to be more context around this.

Katter party MP Nick Dametto says police would become “pound officers”.(Supplied)

“What about young Sarah who’s finished working across the road at a cafe walking home at 11 o’clock at night — what is her excuse?

“Are you going to set up a police special ops team just to look after stray kids? This seems a little bit ludicrous.”

Ms Frecklington said “common sense would prevail” among police officers, saying if a child was already headed home they would be allowed to do so.

‘Prevent childhood trauma first’

Amnesty International Australia’s campaigner Joel Mackay said the policy potentially breached Australia’s commitment to international law, including the United Nations convention on rights of the child.

“Curfews stigmatise, victimise and criminalise young people,” he said.

“They don’t do anything to bring down crime rates, all they do is entrench the marginalisation of children in our community.

“This proposal will not work.”

Act for Kids’ CEO Katrina Lines said young people involved with the youth justice system are often survivors of childhood trauma due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.

“We must treat and prevent childhood trauma first before any youth curfews are likely to see success in reducing the rate of child crime,” she said.

‘Cheap shot aimed at poor people’

Former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda described the LNP’s proposal as a “cheap shot aimed at poor people”.

“It’s pandering to a bunch of law and order merchants,” he said.

“[The fines] will only impoverish more people, continuing the cycle.

“They should talk to the experts … and fund after-hours services [to support young people].”

PeakCare executive director Lindsay Wegener said residents in Townsville and Cairns deserved the right to feel safe from crime, but parents should be helped rather than punished.

A group of people on the streets with signs calling for the youth justice act to be scrapped
Youth crime has become a serious community concern in northern Queensland.(Facebook: Take Back Townsville)

“Sometimes parents are struggling to care for their children and struggling to ensure they stay at home,” he said.

He also believed the policy would disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

“Most young people who engage in youth crime also have child protection needs. This will simply exacerbate the kind of issues of concern that we have about the safety of those young people,” Mr Wegener said.

“If there is tension in the relationship between parents and young people, it’s certainly not going to ease that tension if their parents are being fined $250.”

‘It’s just got to stop’

Ms Frecklington said she made no apologies for being “tough on crime” and highlighted an incident where a cafe was held up by an 11-year-old with a knife.

“An 11-year-old — what is he doing on the streets at that time at night? He’s got to be back at home, safely tucked into bed,” she said.

“It is a terrible indictment when every time I come to Townsville, I have to meet with another community member who has had their house broken into, their car flogged … it’s just got to stop.”

In July, Ms Frecklington released the LNP’s “comprehensive plan to crack down on youth crime”, including its “three strikes and you’re out” policy aimed at forcing courts to sentence young people to youth detention if convicted of a third office.

LNP candidate for Mundingburra, Glenn Doyle, said he and his police colleagues were frustrated and needed laws tightened in relation to youth crime.

At a separate press conference in north Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the curfew plan “doesn’t really cut the mustard”.

She announced a promise to build a second Bruce Highway stretching from Charters Towers to Mungindi on the NSW border to create jobs and divert freight trucks, if Labor was re-elected.



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The Red White and Blue Heart of AFL Townsville


By: Kieran Daley

Photo: Jess Susan Photography

When Richard and Beth McDonald moved to Townsville with their five children in 2000, you would struggle to find someone who could convince you that in 2020, their two sons would be playing in their first Senior Grand Final together.

Not because they would not have thought it would happen, more so that it shouldn’t have taken 20 years.

The family firstly, got involved with the Alligator Creek Crocs in the Junior competition, with Jack and Adam donning the Fremantle colours of Red, Green and Purple. It was not long before they were aligned to the Curra Swans. Curra was a stand-alone Senior club and Alligator Creek was only juniors, it was a perfect match to develop a relationship for the juniors to transition to play senior football.

Both Jack and Adam are accomplished footballers, playing in a number of Townsville Eagles teams as juniors and also graduating to Queensland Country representative sides.

The football journey took both boys away from Townsville with Jack spending six years at Redland Bombers in the QAFL & NEAFL Competitions, winning four Best & fairest awards and Adam having stints in the NEAFL with Belconnen Magpies and Morningside in the QAFL. Adam also managed to win the prestigious WJ Williams medal, before departing his beloved Curra Swans in 2011.

During this time, Richard and Beth have been not only been ongoing support of Jack and Adam but also been great contributors to the growth of AFL in the community of Townsville.

“I originally got involved after Richie Lyons, AFLQ Regional Manager at the time, asked if I would sponsor the league back in 2006. AFL Townsville had, and still has, fantastic volunteers, coaches and support staff, and this was my way of being able to help out. Some of the clubs had tin shed change rooms, which was not allowing the growth of the junior competition and I really wanted to see the game grow and succeed.” Richard said.

“Richard and RMS have been strong supporters of AFL Townsville since 2006.  Whether it be assisting with the development of ovals, sponsoring the league, supporting players and the local clubs, Richard’s contribution is greatly valued and appreciated by the entire AFL community” – AFL Townsville Advisory Board President, Michael Jones.

Richard and RMS Engineering and Construction has literally helped build AFL in Townsville and was instrumental in the construction of the third junior oval that now complements the facility at Murray sporting complex.

It was a casual conversation between Richard and Brad Clarke, Hermit Park Life Member, in 2007, while watching junior footy, that the seed of a junior sized oval was planted. It wasn’t long, October 2007 the work commenced with RMS Engineering donating time and machinery to clear the huge amount of debris and dirt, before leveling began in December 2007.

It was Brad Clarke who sourced additional funding to seed and irrigate the now named RMS Oval.

Richard admits he has a soft spot for the Curra Swans. “The absence of senior success at the Swans prompted me to assist the club, through sponsorship, to help them challenge the stronger clubs in the competition. Given opportunities and with more robust competition, AFL Townsville will be able to provide further pathways for all players, men and women, to be successful and to enjoy the game.  

Come Saturday, Richard and Beth will be watching both boys run around in the red, white and blue. It would be a fantastic fairy tale if the Curra Swans can break their 22 year drought, not only for the Swans, but also for this family, who has given the game so much.

Community sports need community partners.  The sport of AFL in Townsville would not be where it is today without people like Richard and Beth McDonald.” 

The RMS Engineering and Construction Grand Finals, Curra Swans v Thuringowa

Saturday 3 October 2020

1.15pm Reserve Grade

3.30pm for the Seniors

 





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Townsville child care worker among four arrested over multiple counts of rape and indecent assault of children



Police have charged a 39-year-old male child care worker with more than 100 child sex offences in north Queensland.

It is alleged the man from Pimlico in Townsville indecently assaulted children, recorded the offences, took images of the victims and then distributed them over a period of several years.

Authorities said the offending occurred between 1995 and 2020 and involved 12 victims — two males and 10 females — whose ages ranged from 18 months old or less, up to 16 years old.

One victim was an adult.

The 39-year-old has been charged with 104 offences, including multiple counts of rape, indecent treatment, bestiality, making and distributing child exploitation material and supplying dangerous drugs.

He is due to appear in Townsville Magistrates Court on September 29.

Officers are urging anyone else who may have concerns or information about the offender to come forward.

The man was one of four people arrested in Townsville as part of a long-term police operation.

As part of the same investigation, in July a 33-year-old man from the Townsville suburb of West End was charged with 15 offences, including six counts of distributing child exploitation material, possessing child exploitation material and using a carriage service to access child abuse material.

Last week, a 38-year-old woman appeared in Townsville Magistrates Court charged with possessing child exploitation material, distributing child exploitation material and burglary.

Police said they had also cautioned a 49-year-old woman from Railway Estate on three counts of bestiality.

Women with young children targeted, say police

Townsville Child Protection Unit Detective Senior Sergeant David Miles said it was alleged the four people — who were known to each other — worked as a network to exchange child exploitation material.

“We have seen these sorts of networks [before] but this is probably one of the larger ones we’ve had in recent years,” he said.

Senior Sergeant Miles the 39-year-old man would target women who had young children to carry out his offending.

“This individual has offended against both his siblings, his own children and he has preyed upon vulnerable women in our community who have young children,” he said.

He said it was alleged some of the offending took place at the child centre against the 39-year-old man’s own children.

Senior Sergeant Miles said investigations began in July after a tip off from a member of the public.

He said police were working with the centre to see if any more victims could be identified.

“Our investigation at this stage is far from over,” he said.

“We do know that our main principal target was previously employed at a Townsville child care centre for a number of years.

“We’re working closely with that centre at the moment.

“We have identified some victims from that particular centre and we’re working back through historical records at the moment to identity whether there are any more.”

More charges likely

Senior Sergeant Miles said police had spent more than 300 hours going through the material, which was on hard drives, telephones, USB sticks and memory cards.

“We have a long way to go and a lot of material to review,” he said.

“There’s a vast amount of information that’s been taken from all the parties from search warrants, so we will take our time to go through it.”

The 39-year-old man was previously charged with six offences including possessing, masking and distributing child exploitation material, possessing a weapon and possessing ammunition.

Police said it was likely more charges would be laid as a result of the investigation.



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Netball: Townsville born shooter set for triumphant homecoming after homesickness battle


Cara Koenen remembers making tearful phone calls to family in Townsville after moving to Brisbane to chase her netball dreams.

Now the Sunshine Coast goaler is preparing for a successful north Queensland homecoming as a breakout star in the running for a spot in the Diamonds squad.

It’s a situation that seemed unimaginable just a few years ago when Koenen was a homesick teenager who moved to Brisbane, with her older sister Breanna, a Brisbane Lions AFLW player, from their home on Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville six years ago to
chase their sporting goals.

But it wasn’t plain sailing for the 190cm shooter, who struggled to balance the demands of university study and elite sport while missing her other two siblings and parents at home.

“I definitely went through some really tough times,” said Koenen, who will head back to Townsville this week for the Lightning’s clash against the Collingwood Magpies as the Super Netball caravan rolls into
north Queensland.

“Having my sister there was great but pretty early on I was missing family and my other siblings pretty severely, so it was difficult and there were definitely times where I would finish up training and
be on the phone an absolute wreck in tears to my mum going: ‘I just want to come home, I want to get out of here’.

“I wasn’t making any money, so I wasn’t able to pay my rent and I had to maintain a full-time study load to be eligible for government subsidy.

“I was trying to balance really pushing my training commitments and netball and trying to dedicate as much time as I possibly could to that while also trying to maintain good grades at uni and still set myself up for a career if things weren’t to work out (with netball).”

Koenen admits the stress took a toll and if she could reach out to her 17-year-old self, she’d tell her to give herself a break and reassure her the struggles would “absolutely” be worthwhile.

“I would say to her to look after herself a bit better and say it’s okay to have those bad days but also to lean on whoever I needed to lean on at the time,” she said.

“There’s that whole stigma around mental health (but) it’s okay to reach out and ask for help when you need it and when things weren’t going well, I think I probably needed to do that much earlier than I
did.

“But I think looking back now, I’m so glad I stuck with it and I’m so glad I had to make the sacrifices I did because I’m pretty happy at the moment, things are going well.”

Koenen would go on to win a place in the Lightning’s inaugural squad and learnt plenty from their early
premiership-winning campaigns as back-up to current Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett.

And while she wasn’t able to make the goal shooter spot her own last season despite Bassett’s departure to the Giants, the now 24-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season in 2020, averaging almost 32 goals
per game at 88 per cent accuracy against some of the best defenders in the world.

Returning to north Queensland this week, Koenen hopes she can spark the dreams of young girls in the crowd, whose journey to the elite level she hopes will be smoother than her own.

“I was never able to get the opportunity to go and watch such an elite level of netball, I was seeing it through a TV screen, so to be able to watch the product live, it’s fantastic,” she said.

“I’m really excited to hopefully ignite that fire in some of the young girls and decrease the amount of drop-off that we have in participation for regional athletes to show that it’s worth the sacrifice.

“It might be a bit of a more difficult and bumpy road than it is (in the metropolitan areas) but … there is so much talent in regional areas of Queensland, so I think it’s fantastic that we’re able to get
out there and show some female sport.”

The Lightning take on the Firebirds at the University of Sunshine Coast on Sunday before heading to Townsville for Wednesday’s opening Round 13 match.

The remaining three games of the round will be played in Cairns next weekend.



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