Francis: Don't pay coward tax

Moru­ga/Table­land MP Dr Lovell Fran­cis is call­ing on con­trac­tors who are be­ing ex­tort­ed by a gang in his con­stituen­cy to stand up and re­port those threats to the po­lice.

Speak­ing on CNC3's The Morn­ing Brew, Fran­cis de­scribed gang mem­bers as par­a­sites "re­tard­ing the progress of the com­mu­ni­ty they are from."


On Mon­day, Fran­cis took to Face­book to speak about a gang in Moru­ga that was ex­tort­ing mon­ey from con­trac­tors hired to re­pair the Moru­ga Road. Fran­cis said Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley and Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith are aware of the sit­u­a­tion.

He said the main chal­lenge with stop­ping the ex­tor­tion is that the vic­tims have not gone to the po­lice be­cause they fear for their lives.

"Polic­ing is not ar­bi­trary. You have to have hard ev­i­dence and some­one will­ing to come for­ward," the MP, who is al­so Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said.

"And at the time right now, where vi­o­lence has be­come a sig­nif­i­cant part of our land­scape, it is very dif­fi­cult to ask some­one who is try­ing to make an hon­est liv­ing to put their lives at risk by stand­ing for­ward, mak­ing a re­port, or giv­ing ev­i­dence. Tere is that dif­fi­cul­ty."

Fran­cis said con­trac­tors are threat­ened that their equip­ment will be de­stroyed and are le­git­i­mate­ly afraid for their lives. How­ev­er, he is urg­ing them to stand up and speak out be­cause once they start pay­ing a "cow­ard tax", it will nev­er end.

"Every time you come to work, this kind of thing will hap­pen and at the end of it we end up cre­at­ing the kind of so­ci­ety that we can­not live in so it has to stop some­where. I un­der­stand there is fear and you think there is a risk but we need as a so­ci­ety to put a stop to this be­cause it will even­tu­al­ly over­whelm all of us," he said.

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