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Beattie defiant on Palm Island PCYC

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 17 February 2005

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie will travel to Palm Island today, despite anger and opposition from the local council and Indigenous leaders.

Mr Beattie is going to the island to open a new Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC).

The Palm Island Council does not want Mr Beattie to open the centre until after a coronial inquest into the death in custody of a local man.

The Premier says it is time for the community to move forward.

"The people who are opposed to my visit do not want this to be a PCYC," Mr Beattie said.

"If we are ever going to improve the relationship between the police and the people of Palm Island, having it as a PCYC is fundamentally important to do that," he added.

But lawyer Andrew Boe, who represents the Palm Island Council, says Mr Beattie is forgetting a few important details.

"The community has a very poor relationship with the police," Mr Boe said.

"The fact that the State Government is imposing that the centre be managed by police is just politically ridiculous."

He added: "Children have had one of their family members killed in police custody and who have had guns pointed at their heads by police in the last several months.

"Does the Premier actually think these children are going to walk up and play basketball with the same police."

The Palm Island Council has passed a unanimous resolution demanding the new centre not be opened.

But Mr Beattie says he will open the PCYC with or without the blessing of the council and has cast doubt on its resolution.

"The reality is that a number of councillors weren't at the meeting yesterday and when we get the full picture - different story," he said.

"You've got to remember that when I was there on November 28 last year, I said I would come back in February and open this facility."

He says he will not take extra security to the island today because he is confident there will not be any trouble.

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