At the last state election the Liberal party promised they would get tough on crime, in particular with home invasions. (link)
Citizens were promised legislation that would reflect the community's actual expectations regarding consequences for those who commit burglaries.
In March of last year Police Minister Liza Harvey issued a press release that celebrated the supposed success of the Liberal party and its new legislation. The headline was "State Govt delivers toughest home invasion laws". (Link)
But one year later the legislation is still in parliament. It's still not delivered in the sense of it being law.
One of the changes promised was that the three strikes counting rule would be changed, so that multiple burglaries committed over one period were not counted as one strike. (Never mind that most people still think it's absurd that someone can break into two family's homes, traumatise them, and have have no jail term.) The media statement from the minister pointed out that only 49% of aggravated burglaries and home burglaries in 2012 resulted in a jail term. ONL 49%!
But at least the promise went some way toward making sure there was a consequence for some of the repeat burglars.
In the 12 months since, burglaries have continued to skyrocket in Geraldton. Click here for data. Nearly every Geraldton suburb has seen a significant rise in burglaries during 2014.
Each one of these burglaries is not just a number. Each one is a family that no longer feels safe in their own home, or a child that struggles to sleep alone, or a valuable asset to our city with one less reason to believe it's a great place to live.
Whatever other tactics the courts or authorities have been trying have evidentially not been working.
We rang Minister Harvey's office last week to try and understand why the legislation still has not been passed. They got back to us today and promised that the even though it's taken a long time and the legislation is currently in the upper house, it WOULD eventually pass.
Geraldton residents regularly contact us asking why there aren't extra Police in town or tougher laws to deter all the burglaries.
Instead we get tax payer funded full page newspaper adverts telling us we need to take more care, and CCTV in the middle of town, nowhere near our homes.
That's not to say people aren't grateful for those things. They're very grateful.
But if the magistrates won't reflect the will of the community in their sentencing, it's encumbered upon the democratically chosen public servants (politicians) to pass laws that don't give the magistrates a choice; as the people were promised. And each day this legislation waits in parliament is another day the community's will is not being done.