LNP’s Howarth cleans up in Petrie

Petrie, Qld


Karla Shaw

Luke Howarth’s graffiti removal site at Elizabeth Avenue Redcliffe.

Petrie MP Luke Howarth was tired of driving past graffiti on Elizabeth Avenue in Redcliffe, so he decided to do something about it. While it is not a Federal Government issue, he was worried about a really poor look on the community. “The whole place was graffiti, for a year and half I drove past,” he said.

He approached the local council and the owner of the building but had no success. However, he received permission to host a volunteer day. “I got some free paint from a local paint supplier and painted the whole building black,” he said.

Mr Howarth now looks after the maintenance and has twice been back on his own to clear it again. It is not the only area he helps to clean up.

“On Deception Bay Road, I have another office, and there is a little Telstra building down there,” he said. “I also got Telstra to clean up that building as well because it is a bad reflection on its community.”

Mr Howarth is responsible for an area of 152km2 over two council regions – Moreton Bay Regional Council and Brisbane City Council. He said he has been “focusing on helping with crime prevention tactics in the region”.

“The Federal Government gave $1 million to the Moreton Bay Regional Council to install CCTV from Kippa Ring train station through to Petrie railway station, which also covers a bike and walkway,” ,” Mr Howarth said. “Grants have been issued to Redcliffe Area Youth Space and The Deception Bay Community Youth Programme.”

On his Facebook feed Mr Howarth promoted in 2016 and again in 2019 the “Dob in a dealer campaign” launched by Crime Stoppers Queensland. The focus was to gain reports from the community of “any suspicious drug related activities”. The campaign used $1 million from the assets confiscated during arrests made by the Commonwealth that were proceeds of crime.

In 2020 Mr Howarth opened the Moreton Bay Youth Crime Forum and last year attended the launch of “I live my life without a knife”. The Queensland campaign was held at the Redcliffe Area Youth Space, motivated by the death of 15-year-old Redcliffe student, Angus Beaumont. On Friday 13 March 2020, Angus was walking home from McDonald’s with friends and was stabbed in the chest. Two 14-year-old boys were charged with his murder and attempted armed robbery for trying to steal his skateboard and backpack.

Another issue in Redcliffe is the homeless people at Pelican Park. “Once again, all the public housing is owned by the State Government,” he said. “We give $320 million a year, to build new public housing and to maintain, including $5.5 billion a year on commonwealth rent assistance to pay rent if they are on a low income.”

Mr Howarth is also the Assistant Minister for Youth, and Employment Services. He said his joint focus was “helping people find work, and working with youth as well, particularly with financial education, mental health, and employment”. “But helping people find employment is so essential, because that way, they can fund everything they need, and they are not dependent on government to live,” he said.

An “I live my life without a knife” poster in the Petrie electorate (Karla Shaw)

Mr Howarth’s youth focus is anywhere from “15 years up until the end of 24”. “And what youth tell me that is most important to them, is obviously education and employment, the environment and mental health,” he said. “They are the four main key areas that are important to youth, and so I’ve been focusing on those areas with the government to make sure we’re addressing their concerns in those areas.”

In 2021, Mr Howarth was accused of pork barrelling by a voter in the Petrie Electorate. Mr Howarth likened this to his role as MP to deliver to the local community, including community infrastructure needs.

On his website Mr Howarth requests feedback from the community, supplying a survey. Within the section “The Issues”, the survey asks what concerns you the most? “Tackling crime and the scourge of drugs” is mentioned along with “Securing Australia’s Borders”.

“I try to be accessible” Mr Howarth said. “Most of my electorate don’t live near my office, it’s a long way from different places. Obviously, the last two years has been extremely difficult with COVID, and it’s changed the way that I normally operate, because we haven’t been able to go places and do the normal things that we do.”

In his personal life he is a Queensland representative of Judo with a Black Belt in Sho Dan. Mr Howarth is also a member of the North Brisbane Crime Stoppers Board and Police Citizen Youth Club Board. Mr Howarth has been the Petrie MP since 2013, was re-elected in 2016 and 2019 and hopes to be back in Canberra again later this year.