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March 14th 2016 print

Roger Franklin

Politically Correct Policing

A Melbourne crowd watching the Moomba Festival's firework display was engulfed by a race riot on Saturday night -- an eruption of gang violence outnumbered police could do little to stop. Do authorities really need to be reminded that public safety, not revenue-raising, is their primary duty?

fed square rumble smallFrom January, a story that flitted across the headlines and which now bears re-visiting: Victoria’s Chief Commissioner of Police, Graham Ashton, was slugged with a $190 fine for exceeding a freeway speed limit by a shocking eight kilometres per hour. That was amusing in itself, as some $800 million a year is wrung from Garden State drivers who are nailed, in the vast majority of cases, for “offences” that in any foreign jurisdiction most likely would be ignored. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a biter bitten?

Why drag up Ashton’s lead-footed transgression today, when the city on the Yarra is enjoying both its Labour Day public holiday and a parade down Swanston Street, the annual festival of hokey fun that Melbournians know as Moomba?

Just this: on Saturday night in Federation Square there was a full-blown race riot as one street gang, the Apex boys, consisting primarily of Africans, rumbled with members of another, Islanders 23, composed for the most part of Pacific Islanders. If you happen to live in unfashionable Dandenong, an outer Melbourne suburb, such a conflict would be remarkable only for its size, as young multiculturalists beating the daylights out of each other is something to which law-abiding residents have long since grown accustomed. The Channel 9 report below should be watched, as images convey the havoc far better than mere words.

What made the weekend’s fist fest unusual was that the antagonists shipped their violence into the heart of the CBD, where thousands of peaceful and inoffensive folk, including many families with small children, were on hand to enjoy a Moomba fireworks display. They were obliged to scurry for cover, some barricading themselves in restaurants, others seeking sanctuary behind the turnstiles at Flinders Street Station. Coffee-sippers at Brunetti’s in the City Square were less fortunate, as the tide of lawless youth rolled over them in a wave of flying chairs, random brutality and the odd, opportunistic mugging. The rioters owned the streets and for two hours went at it hammer and tongs.

According to reports, very few police were present to contest control of the streets with the CBD invaders. By one account, fewer than a dozen officers, hopelessly outnumbered, were on hand when the violence first erupted.

Which brings us back to Commissioner Ashton’s speeding fine and the real shame of Saturday night: a simple truth, one most often ignored, is that Victoria’s citizens now fall into two distinct classes, each subject to radically different treatment by those charged with enforcing the law.

In the first category, we have families like those that assembled on Saturday for the innocent fun of skyrockets and eye-catching explosions. No doubt many in Federation Square had driven into town and, like all Victorians everywhere and every day, would have kept a wary eye on their speedos. When the Police Commissioner, presumably a man of the greatest probity, can have his wallet considerably lightened for what, as he admitted, was a momentary lapse of attention unlikely to do anyone any harm, no one is safe from the revenuers.

Think of these Victorians as the softest of soft targets. As they can be filmed, fined and fleeced with lucrative impugnity, so they are. Any objection to such treatment is met with lectures and publicity campaigns about the road toll, which has flat-lined over recent decades at around 300 lost lives per year. Unmentioned is that, back in the Seventies, when the state’s population was half what it is today, well over 1000 Victorians were killing themselves and others every year on our roads. It was a shameful waste of life and the police of the day did themselves proud by implementing a determined and sustained effort to reverse the carnage. The assault on drink-drivers, on speed demons, boy racers and those who spurn seat belts or accelerate through school crossings worked a treat, as the remarkable decrease in road fatalities attests.

Unfortunately, as is the way of all bureaucracies, including those dressed in blue, once the war had been won those who prosecuted it kept right on with business as usual, providing a case study in diminishing returns. More speed cameras, bigger fines, slick and shocking big-budget TV ads – huge investments, in other words, for insignificant gains. Insignificant, that is, if one overlooks the ever-increasing haul in fines. The simple fact is that if citizens are allowed to move about the streets in heavy tin boxes, some will bump into others or something else. Given the expanding population and the ever-increasing number of cars on the roads, the annual toll is probably as low as it is likely to get. So, as further significant gains must be considered unlikely, a reasonable soul might conclude the time had long since passed for authorities to turn their attention, their manpower and resources to more pressing problems. The ability of blameless citizens to watch fireworks in peace on a pleasant March evening is surely one of them.

This is where it is important to recognise citizenry’s second category. For at least a decade now, crime and violence involving ethnic gangs have been increasing in and around Dandenong, the location’s amenity considerably diminished by thuggery and brazen defiance of the law. If one swallows the brochuresmanship of multiculturalism’s professional advocates, life in Dandenong and environs is a showpiece of amicable diversity. This is where Muslim schoolkids don’t have to sing the National Anthem, where a nearby municipal pool installs curtains  in order to spare the female faithful the indignity of being exposed to infidel eyes,  and non-Muslim swimmers are ordered to cover their shoulders lest newcomers take offence. It is also a place where, when a minority teen dies in a gang rumble, “community spokesmen” jostle to go before the cameras and explain that the kids with baseball bats and machetes can’t really be blamed because they have yet to fully grasp the different attitudes of the society which has taken them in. Funny thing that: quaint Australian conventions, such as not waging war on the streets, are hard to comprehend, yet the mores of US gangsta culture, with its colour-coded bandanas and rappers’ hymns to violence and misogyny, are easily assimilated. Go figure that one.

To get a glimpse of what life is like in Dandenong, watch the video below. It is part of a series shot by someone who lives there, and the fact that it is an amateur production, rather than a product of the  mainstream media, is telling. Few reporters, bless their bourgeois bottoms, live in Dandenong, so the idea of exploring a community’s fragmentation and disintegration holds little appeal. Much better to write about same-sex marriage or the perils of climate change, as those are topics newsroom colleagues care about much more than the emergence of an imported, violent and alien underclass. And anyway, what reporter wants to be dragged before the Press Council to answer some activist’s lawfare complaint of racism?

Behold the second category of citizens, the hard targets it is not in the best interest of any police officer’s career to restrain or rebuke. Consider the fate of three officers from Sunshine, on the other side of Melbourne, who printed and distributed 50 stubby holders for their comrades’ amusement and private use. These were decorated with a cartoon picture of catfish and this was taken by community activists as an insult to new arrivals from Africa. Black residents, according to those same activists, are sometimes called “mudfish”, the murky bottom being where catfish find their dinners. Those officers were soon out of a job and the stubbie holders incinerated. Ethnic friction and crime in the area continues.

Or think, too, of the settlement reached in 2013 by Victoria Police when taken to court by six young African men who insisted they were victims of racial discrimination. The facts of the matter are undisputed: The men ran from their vehicle and scattered after being pulled over by police on the look-out for a group, described as being of similarly “African appearance”, which had earlier beaten and mugged passersby. What is a street cop to make of that? One obvious conclusion: if a suspect flees and he happens to be black, it may well mean more trouble than it is worth to pursue him.

When Commissioner Ashton broke the law he turned on a snivelling display of contrition and self-criticism that would have gladdened the hearts of Mao’s Red Guards. It was quite the performance. His mind had wandered, he confessed, but avowed that it was no excuse – and he was right about that, as tens of thousands of fellow Victorians have discovered when they appeal their speeding fines.

When a race riot erupts in the heart of a major city, it is not only a Chief Commissioner’s mind that must have wandered. If the primary focus of the law and legislators has drifted so far that it is now fixed on extracting fines and revenues from motorists while kid-glove, politically correct treatment leads others to believe they can make city streets their battlegrounds, then it is self-evident that priorities and purpose have slipped a good deal further, and far more dangerously, than a top cop’s foot on the accelerator.

Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online.   

Comments [18]

  1. Mr Johnson says:

    It is a damn shame that the streets weren’t filled with skinny white teenagers fighting each other tooth and nail – we certainly now how to bring the legal hammer down on that lot. And if hundreds of Australian youths, mullets flowing and flags draped over pink, sunburned shoulders were the cause of the fracas, then the airwaves would be filled with apoplectic politicians of both sides of parliament promising a law and order crackdown like we’ve never seen. Bandanaed commentators would be wagging fingers, and Fairfax would be calling for a nationwide day of shame.

    Best to pretend it didn’t happen, switch on the ABC, and wring my hands over the fire fuel that has just been handed to the rest of us right-wing racists & bigots (*sigh*)

  2. Alistair says:

    Why dont the Victorian Police use the European policing methods.

    “Police Issue Warning in Sweden to Women: Don’t Go Out Alone”.

    Or simply declare areas to be “Zones Urbain Sensibles” where the police are not obliged to enforce the law. Its time Australia caught up with overseas trends on law enforcement.

    http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/police-issue-warning-sweden-women-dont-go-out-alone

  3. Richard H says:

    Since 1970, the rate of road deaths in Australia (deaths per km driven) has declined by 90 per cent – a credit at least as much to surgeons, nurses and engineers as to the tightening of road rules. As for Ashton’s transgression; well it’s a good thing he wasn’t also vaping nicotine in an e-cigarette or he’d have been in real trouble.

    The “second category” of citizenry is of course broader than just recent arrivals to these shores. In Victoria, trade unionists mounting illegal pickets, Trot thugs staging riots (reported as ‘protests’), indignant indigenes blocking city intersections and spire-climbing eco-freaks have also long enjoyed something close to immunity from the law under the benevolent gaze of our State’s PC PCs.

  4. Jody says:

    I’ll bet those immigrant Africans and islanders are quaking in their boots in anticipation of justice, Australian style. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

  5. ianl says:

    A clear pattern has emerged over the last few decades.

    Refugees (real ones from war zones) are very experienced in surviving in battle-hard war conditions that most Australians cannot even imagine. From Vietnamese to Lebanese to Sudanese etc … No, I’m not being bigoted, just pointing out an obvious pattern.

    They arrive here with these honed survival skills and observe our naive, nicey-nice soft PC attitudes – they see smorgasbord !!

    And given their experiences, it works for them. Mostly this takes a few generations to slough off and they are “assimilated”. And that’s quite ok by me.

    But one group persistently refuses the last segment of this pattern … world-wide. Our police are scared of them. I suppose I don’t blame them for that; certainly, the in-house population is a much, much softer, easier target for both the police and the hardened refugees.

    It’s just that the authorities have lost control and are too scared, too vain, to admit it. I really despise that.

    • Jody says:

      Personally, I’m not one bit tolerant of “a few generations….to assimilate”. That’s just not on!!

    • acarroll says:

      It’s an indictment of the times that you have to qualify your observation with, “No, I’m not being bigoted, just pointing out an obvious pattern”, in order to save people from feeling a feeling.

      The problem with assimilation is that it’s unjust on those who do not wish to associate with the foreigner AND also the foreigner who refuses or is unable to assimilate. Hence the concept of multiculturalism. One state, multiple cultures/nations (EMPIRE by any other name).

      In regards to that one group: “you can take the boy out of Africa but you can’t take Africa out of the boy”, is one way it could be summed up.

  6. wisernow says:

    The LP’s recent request for a campaign contribution fell upon my deaf ears this time. The Australian Liberty Alliance was the beneficiary of my meager financial contribution and, they’ll get my senate vote as well as they identify with issues that bother many of my ilk.

    Tony Nutt’s message did not sit well with me and his closing paragraph scared the bejeezus out of me. And that was before the recent events in the Melbourne CBD involving African and Islander gangs.

    “This is an important election year and we are relying on your support to ensure Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition continue to provide the leadership, policies and values for Australia’s future.”

    If the examples in the Melbourne CBD have any semblance of our future, god help us and our descendants, because you can be certain that the judicial and political classes wont.

  7. Lawrie Ayres says:

    I have often been amused at the double standards of policing in NSW as well. Union picket lines are sacrosanct and are not crossed by the boys in blue who studiously ignore the rights of the employer and staff who just want to get on with the job.

    In reply to “wisernow” my local pollie sends me a brochure saying he is listening. I write him a polite email expressing my concerns and receive no acknowledgement let alone answer. Shortly I will be asked to hand out how to vote cards and I will have a dilemma; I want the Nats in the lower house but I want to support the ALA in the upper.

    • Jody says:

      It’s a valid point you make about the rhetoric of politicians, but anatomizing the Senate isn’t good for the country. The Senate is supposed to be a ‘house of review’ and was never intended to be more powerful that the Reps – as it currently is. The system isn’t working when the elected government cannot pass legislation because of minorities who have virtually zero mandate through dodgy deals to get them there. Your suggestion about the ALA and other small groups means that you’d expect them to thwart or thoroughly water down legislation drafted by the government of the day. I wonder if you consider that democratic when a huge number of the population have voted for that same government and given them a mandate?

  8. pgang says:

    What’s happened to the Victorian police? It wasn’t so long ago that it was the Police State. Seems now that it’s the traffic camera State.

    Why, it seems so recently that I was being bailed up and threatened with a beating at the Phillip Island super bikes for daring to flaunt their 11.00pm curfew by having a quiet chat with a couple of friends on some public seating. Threatened by the police of course, not other motorcyclists. Somewhat ironic.

    While the enforcement of drink driving and seatbelt laws has no doubt saved lives, nobody bothers to really study the causes of the reduction in the death rate. As Richard H notes above, the lion’s share can most likely be slated home to improved engineering of cars and yes, better road conditions. This would be consistent with the hierarchy of controls when managing safety, which places engineering above administrative controls for effectiveness. The next big step will be one of the most effective control of all – substitution. That is coming with driver-less cars, which will pose a challenge for the police to find new ways to impose fines.

  9. ianl says:

    The issue with Jody’s argument above on how small Senate groups are undemocratically thwarting “mandates” is that said groups themselves claim a “mandate”. Such a quaint idea.

    The Greens on 10% of the vote, the Democrats before them on even less … all claimed a “mandate” from their 10% of the vote. The main Senate opposition (whoever it happens to be at any one time) claims it is their duty to oppose.

    No way out there. So I’m for the ALA in the Senate to try and stop Waffle’s ETS (which he won’t campaign on since it may lose him too many Lower House seats). As a general question, if a successfully elected Govt then tries to introduce major legislation which it did not campaign on, does it have a mandate for that legislation ?

    Gillard’s experience answered that in the sense that she did exactly what she said she wouldn’t. Waffle will not openly espouse an ETS in campaign mode, so he can subsequently claim wriggle time in that he won’t be directly breaking his word. But deliberate ommission is also a lie – it’s how adults lie. And we all know he will.

    • Davidovich says:

      It is highly likely that Turnbull, if he wins the next election, will introduce an ETS and that Labor and the Greens will support him. The only hope of stopping Turnbull’s leftist excesses is to deny him control of the Senate but, with new voting rules, that may not be as easy as we might hope.

  10. Jody says:

    Well, according to political scientists like Jennifer Oriel it is NOT the job of the Senate to oppose; it is a ‘house of review’. In short, ‘review’ means to amend not reject. Again, the Senate was never intended to be more powerful than the Reps.