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Parents 'dumped kids' at McDonald's

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A BABY and two other children were left at a McDonald's restaurant in north Queensland for two hours while their mothers drank at a nearby hotel, police say.

Police were called to the Atherton restaurant about 4.30pm (AEST) yesterday after staff became concerned about the welfare of the children.

Mareeba police Senior Constable Andrew Osbourne said it appeared a woman had left her 12-month-old baby with her 10-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old boy while she went to fetch the boy's mother from a nearby pub.

The children were estimated to have been without their parents for two hours.

"Basically McDonald's staff were concerned initially and then ... the police turned up and ascertained the full details," Const Osbourne said.

"There seems to be no concerns by the initial attending officers in relation to the welfare and health of the children.

"That indicates to me that there was no risk to them."

The owner of the restaurant franchise, former Australian Test and Queensland Origin rugby league forward Greg Dowling, told the Cairns Post one of the mothers came into the store, bought the children some food then left.

"I was extremely concerned for the welfare of the small child," he said.

Mr Dowling said it was the first time he had contacted police about parents dumping children, but it was common practice.

"This happens quite a bit, parents drop the kids off at the play equipment and leave," he said.

"I did something about it this time because I thought it was too much pressure for the kids to be looking after the baby."

Mr Dowling declined to comment further when contacted by AAP.

The incident comes two weeks after Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced a crackdown on parents dumping children while they went to casinos and pubs.

Under the proposed legislation, police will have greater powers and parents who abandon their children could face up to three years' jail.

Parents 'dumped kids' at McDonald's

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