In April, I had a very brave lady by the name of Miriam Sesay come into my office and tell me a very disturbing story about local youths who had abused and ridiculed her because of her racial origins on not one but two occasions.
Miriam came to Australia as a political refugee in 2004 from Liberia in West Africa, after experiencing a life filled with frightening conflict. Miriam thought that she had left, as she described it, ‘all the darkness behind,’ when she came to Australia. It is a basic human right not a privilege to walk down the street regardless of your colour and background without being harassed and racially vilified.
In response to Miriam’s experiences, I picked up the phone to my good friend and colleague Michael Keenan, the shadow minister for justice, customs and border protection, and asked him to come to Bonner and meet with my constituents at a crime forum to discuss Miriam’s experiences. The forum provided a great opportunity for locals to raise concerns about crime and safety. It was also an opportunity for all levels of government, police and community leaders, schools, small business owners and residents to discuss future crime prevention strategies.
Residents raised concerns about the damaging effects of the spate of recent bikie gang violence in Queensland and the recent flood of illegal weapons and drugs that have hit our streets. Concerns have been raised about light sentencing by courts after police had done the hard work, taking criminals off the streets. Reduced Customs inspections of cargo under the Labor government has increased the risk of organised crime gangs importing guns and drugs. Many constituents afterwards told me that they were heartened to hear that a future coalition government would strengthen our borders to reduce the flow of guns and drugs to local communities.
I want to thank the member for Stirling for caring about the people of Bonner, to come and hear firsthand the issues that individuals, families and community groups are concerned about.
The crime forum would not have been possible without community attendance and I thank all the Bonner constituents who have an active interest in the ongoing safety of our local community and for attending this forum to listen to others and, most importantly, to make their voice heard.
My thanks also extend to the Superintendent Jim Keogh, a member for the crime forum panel, for his insightful and honest advice on the day; the Wynnum RSL, who hosted this most important community event; and, in particular, Mr Reg O’Malley, the president of the Wynnum RSL, and Jessica Walmsley, the functions coordinator of the Wynnum RSL.
For a copy of the Official Hansard please click here.