‘Con Air’ costs taxpayers dearly
TAXPAYERS are forking out almost $1000 a day to fly juvenile criminals around the state with youth detention centres at full capacity.
Right to Information documents, obtained by the state opposition reveal the State Government spent over $180,000 in a six-month period from November last year moving the juvenile offenders around to and from court dates and upon their release from prison.
The LNP Opposition has hit out at the "Con Air" program which uses both private and commercial flights, saying it should be scrapped for less grandiose methods such as train and bus.
It can also be revealed an "extraordinary" flight was chartered by the Government's own aviation wing in March to send five juvenile criminals from the overcrowded Brisbane Youth Detention Centre to the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville to lessen the pressure on facilities in Brisbane.
The total cost for the chartered flight was $6200.
A total of three chartered flights were booked over the six month period, costing $21,000.
Taxpayers also paid for a number of juveniles to fly on a 50 minute Qantas flight from Mackay to Townsville, where the detention centre is based, despite it being just a four-hour drive.
Included in the airfares were tickets for youth justice staff who were in charge of the children.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington hit out against the government, and said they were giving preferential treatment to "young thugs."
"Our youth detention centres are overcrowded and yet Labor's only answer to fixing this problem is to shuffle youth detainees between State detention centres in private jets," she said.
"Why is the Government choosing to charter planes, instead of putting these youth offenders on cheaper transport options?"
Minister for Child Safety and Youth, Di Farmer defended the costs, and said they had been "normal" costs for a number of years.
"Transfers are required when young people are remanded, released or ordered to appear in court at the order of courts," she said.
"Commercial flights are used to save costs where possible, however there are times when commercial flights are either unavailable or not appropriate for security reasons.
"Flights are used instead of alternative means of transfer, such as rail or road transport, because the additional time these methods take would cost even more in staff resourcing and potentially accommodation."