No African gang crisis? Wrong, says victim Val
The victim of a violent home invasion in Melbourne’s west, who was slapped and threatened while the family house was ransacked, says the government and police are “wrong” to deny the state is facing an African gang crisis, urging leaders to visit victims of crime.
Val, who did not want her surname published, was minding her nephew’s family home last week when a group of more than 10 youths of African appearance shattered the glass back door and trashed the home, forcing her to sit in the front room while they threatened her with baseball bats and stole technology and money.
Nine days after the attack, 59-year-old Val has watched with increased concern as the state government and police have stepped back from labelling a recent of spate of youth crime as a “crisis”. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton at a press conference on Thursday rubbished claims that Melburnians felt unsafe to go out to dinner.
“I got very angry when I saw the police press conference. I thought you really need to open your eyes and look at what’s happening. You need to visit these areas which are quite highly populated,” Val told The Weekend Australian.
“They are gangs. You talk about bad motorcycle boys, well hang on a minute, these are no better than the motorcycle boys. They are running around and terrorising people, and they’re saying they are not gangs, they are saying there is no problem in Victoria. They are wrong.”
Her comments come as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton yesterday said Premier Daniel Andrews had created the crime “mess” through appointments of magistrates and judges and not having adequate sentences and deterrences.
“The solution in part is to make sure that the appointment that you’re making to the magistrates court are people that will impose sentences and will provide some deterrence to people repeatedly coming before the courts,” Mr Dutton told 3AW.
“If you’re appointing civil libertarians to the magistrates court over a long period of time, you will get soft sentences and that’s the reality ... I’m blaming the state government for making appointments which I think you’re seeing the consequences of now.”
Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula later called Mr Dutton’s comments “completely unwarranted and untrue”.
“No government in recent memory has done more to appoint former prosecutors to our bench than this government and that has been something that we have done very consciously,” he said.
Victoria’s African community leaders and police met yesterday for the first time in a series of taskforce talks to tackle the issue. Before the meeting, Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations Andrew Crisp told the ABC there was “not a crisis in this state in relation to crime, or the behaviour we’re seeing of a relatively small number of people of African background”.
Staying at her sister’s home in Melbourne’s west, Val said these kind of comments were sidelining a real problem.
“It’s only the victims that can tell them what’s happening, and how they feel,” she said. “I’d like to say, how would you feel if it was your mother, in your home?
“They need to have the resources; the police that can police the area. And the government need to really recognise the fact there is a problem in the community, there is problem in the African community.”
Val has taken six weeks leave from her volunteering job at the Red Cross while she recovers. She says she hopes something constructive can be done so the rest of the African community doesn’t suffer from the actions of a few.
“Where I work in the Red Cross I do work with a lot of African people, and they are beautiful people, really sweet natured. When my husband got carted off to hospital they went into the tea room and they prayed for him,” she said.
A petrol station in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s southeast was held up in the early hours of yesterday by two men of African appearance armed with a machete and large rock. They demanded cash from the register and fled.
Migrants must integrate — that’s a fact
Melbourne is seemingly only now finding out what Sydney has long known: ‘politically correct’ multiculturalism hinders integration and leads to social problems.
Melbourne’s African gang crisis shows how lucky we are that Australia has never practiced the kind of mushy-headed multiculturalism long preached by many inner-city elites.
The politically correct argument is that newcomers should retain and practice the customs and habits of their homeland, and Australian society should adapt to accommodate this in the name of tolerance.
But when forced to confront real cultural ‘diversity’ — marauding gangs of Sudanese youths whose behaviour suggests warring tribesmen in violent clan struggles — proponents of multiculturalism have engaged in mass denial.
This has been exemplified by the tweets from an ABC journalist and a prominent left-wing judge, downplaying the crisis and claiming that no-one they know or who lives in their suburbs is fearful of gang violence.
This might actually be true: high property prices in well-off locations allow many elites to buy their way out of direct exposure to the problem.
The irony is that many of the same people, so complacent about gang violence, took to the streets in protest when journalist Jill Meagher was raped and murdered in the fashionable suburb of Brunswick by serial offender Adrian Bayley.
But when the citizens of outer-metropolitan areas complain regarding gang violence and about essentially the same problem — lax administration of law and order — they are condemned as racist ‘deplorables’.
The reality of immigration is that culture matters, and will determine how easily (or otherwise) migrant and refugees can fit in.
Fortunately, our immigration policies have been based on the common sense principle that newcomers should be expected to adapt to Australian culture — not the other way around.
Due to factors such as the skills-based nature of the immigration programme, most migrants have easily conformed to core Australian values such as the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, and the ‘fair go’ for all.
The successful integration of migrants from around the globe has made Australia perhaps the most harmonious multi-racial nation in the world.
This has been aided by migrants being self-selecting. Those who choose to start a new life are generally likely to have the will and ability to fit in and make a go of the opportunities afforded by their new homeland.
Refugees, however, are a special case. They have not come by choice, but have been forced to leave their countries because of war or political turmoil, and may therefore lack the skills and knowledge needed to cope with life in a very different society.
This is borne out by the unemployment statistics recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
One in three recent immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who are mainly refugees, are unemployed. The unemployment rate for this group is six times higher than the national average, and much higher than for newcomers from Asian and Southern and eastern European countries — most of who arrive as immigrants not refugees.
Refugees need far more intensive support and government-funded services to make the transition to living here.
The extra expense to taxpayers is why we need to cap the number of refugees accepted each year — and is also why we need strong border protection policies to enforce those caps.
This is also why we need to be hard-headed about immigration policy and reject unrealistic policies, such as the 50,000 annual refugee intake proposed by the Australian Greens.
The kind of debate about immigration that has been sparked by the recent events in Melbourne is commonplace in many European countries, where Middle Eastern and north African newcomers’ failure to integrate has frayed the social fabric.
Australia, thankfully, does not face anything like the same challenges France, Germany, and Sweden do.
Sydney-siders are, however, more familiar with these kinds of problems than those in other states.
This is due to the well-known unemployment, crime and other social problems that exist in parts of Western Sydney centred around Lakemba. The sad fact is that some Lebanese Muslim Australians, mostly from refugee backgrounds and families, have failed to repeat the successful path of education, work, and integration that is the norm for most immigrant groups — including the wave of Christian Lebanese who preceded them.
Community concerns about immigration have also been reinforced by recent instances of home-grown Islamic terrorism that have usually involved offenders from Middle-Eastern backgrounds.
In response, politicians are increasingly rejecting fluffy multicultural sentiment. And it isn’t only Coalition hardliners such as Peter Dutton who are preaching the need for all Australians to be held to the same cultural standards.
Labor MPs have also acknowledged the need for a robust commitment to Australian values. Hence, even Labor opposition education minister, Tanya Pilbersek recently said a future Labor government will encourage all schoolchildren to learn and recite Australia’s citizenship pledge — to promote commitment to our democratic beliefs, laws, and liberties.
Victoria Police establish African-Australian community taskforce to tackle youth crime
Talk is cheap
Victoria Police have established a community taskforce with African-Australian leaders to tackle youth crime, amid what the Chief Commissioner has described as an increase in public disorder and misbehaviour.
The taskforce will meet for the first time on Friday and is supported by senior African leaders in Melbourne.
Returning from a period of sick leave following a fatigue-related illness, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said he had met with community leaders to discuss how African-Australian youth crime had changed in recent times.
Chief Commissioner Ashton said the force had been dealing with home invasions and car-jackings for some time, and generally "catching the offenders quickly".
"What's changed over and above that … has been an increase in public disorder and public behaviour, misbehaviour in public by groups of young people," he said. "That's been a bit different to what we've been dealing with.
"We've had a number of instances where we had to call out our public order response teams.
"There's been plenty of footage in the media of recent times with that occurring. That's probably changed a bit."
Victoria Police said the taskforce would assist law enforcement by:
Providing information to police on emerging issues and hot spots, allowing police to act swiftly
Establishing a more efficient channel for police to engage with African-Australian leaders and provide advice on how they can assist in preventing youth crimes and antisocial behaviour
Providing police with information on incidents of racial vilification and other hate crimes aimed at African Australians
Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the third element of the taskforce was necessary due to threats being made to law-abiding members of the African community. "I know [that] a number of people here today and others in the community have been subjected … to death threats," he said.
"I think it's really important this community has the opportunity to connect with Victoria Police to look at how best we can protect the community, how we can investigate these matters, if it's to do with racial vilification or hate crimes."
African-Australian Kot Monoah said the media coverage of the issue in recent weeks had negatively affected a broad range of community members. "Yesterday we were at Eagle Stadium in Werribee," he said. "We saw a young person from an African community coaching young people and someone approached [and said] 'if you ever touch my child, we're going kill you'.
"The other incident is … a group of young people who are doing very well at university saying 'we don't have a chance with the sorts of reporting that is happening. We'd better move overseas … where this sort of coverage is not there'."
Crime committed by African youth has received nationwide media attention in recent weeks, after Federal MP Greg Hunt described African gang crime as being "out of control" in Melbourne.
His comments came after several recent headline-grabbing crimes which were blamed on groups of young African men, including the trashing of an Airbnb property in Werribee and the repeated destruction of a community centre in Tarneit.
An orange substance is seen splashed on the wall of a bedroom.
Photo: Damage caused to an Airbnb house in Werribee after a party got out of control. (ABC News: Joanna Crothers)
They were followed by similar concerns voiced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who claimed Melburnians were too frightened to dine out because of the problem.
But Chief Commissioner Ashton described claims that Victoria was not a safe place to live as "complete and utter garbage".
"There are people being affected by crime, and that's always been the case and it's the same in every city in Australia ..., [but] Victoria is one of the safest places in the world to live," he said. "The concept that somehow it's unsafe to go out of dinner … I think everyone in this room would go out places for dinner, I don't think anyone's sitting with the sheets cowering over their heads.
He acknowledged that people were concerned by what they had read and seen on the issue but said the crime rate in Victoria was actually going down.
"I don't think it's a crisis ... I think if you put it into context you've got a few hundred offenders engaging in offending in a city of 4.5 million people," he said.
"If you look across the totality of the Victorian crime situation, the last two quarters we've reduced total crime in the state. We're continuing to do that."
Chief Commissioner Ashton said Victoria Police would continue to take a "zero-tolerance" approach to youth offending, which he said was often the result of complex issues of social disadvantage and unemployment.
"We will continue to make arrests, we will continue to investigate and crack down on criminal behaviour, like we have been doing," he said.
But he reiterated that while police were describing the incidents as "street gang behaviour", the force did not consider the crimes as being committed by "structured, organised gangs" of people.
"What this is, it's young people coming together, networking through social media, coming together and engaging in criminal activity," he said. "It's much more loosely organised than many might think in that regard. I think that's the point — it's not structured and organised, like a bikie gang or other gangs in Victoria."
Community leader Richard Deng also criticised politicians for using the term "African gangs". "We love to call them gangs, African gangs, and the majority of these kids are born here, they're bloody Australian. Let's call them that way."
Mr Monoah acknowledged there were behavioural issues some young people, often compounded by the use of drugs and alcohol, that needed tackling.
There's a problem with the over-representation of young Sudanese men in Victoria's justice system, but tackling the issue would be easier without hyped-up political rhetoric, Richard Willingham writes.
But he criticised politicians and the media for their handling of the issue. "These sorts of issues, it is our duty and responsibility as a society to address them without obviously mixing them with politics or without mixing them with any other messaging," he said.
He said a number of young people had been racially profiled in shopping centres and parks as a result of the recent attention to the issue. "It impacts on a number of law-abiding, innocent people," he said.
Mr Deng also called on politicians and the media not to divide the community over the issue. "I would like to say again to the politicians — it is time you join hands with the community, engage, let's put politics aside and work together," he said.
"Using crime for political gain is not acceptable. As a community, we call on all politicians to work with us, work with Victoria Police, as a way forward."
The facts versus Leftist flim-flam
For all the millions of conversations and communications happening every minute of every day, there are two distinct national conversations occurring. They are totally divergent in source and substance and both lay claim to truth. Yet only one can be true; only one can be rooted in reality.
They are opposites — like Seinfeld’s Bizarro Jerry. On Sydney radio 2GB this week, host Mark Levy was commenting on the hype about Oprah Winfrey running for president. “Despite all the doom and gloom around the Trump presidency, what’s he done wrong so far?” asked Levy. It was an unremarkable reflection that generated no contention and was not intended to do so. For that audience it was a statement of the obvious.
Yet could you imagine such an observation being made on the ABC? Not only is it inconceivable that any ABC host would make such a call but we know any guest arguing the same would be treated as a heretic. The proposition would be howled down as controversial, partisan and absurd. Despite its charter obligations to objectivity and plurality, the ABC could not entertain such a reasonable point of view.
On the day of the US election, one of the ABC’s leading political analysts, former Labor staffer Barrie Cassidy, tweeted the “nightmare” was over and Donald Trump couldn’t win. He then echoed CNN’s take that Trump’s election would trigger the biggest stockmarket crash since 9/11. As we know, not only did Trump win but the markets are breaking records — on the upside.
Over the past few weeks I have been hosting radio on 2GB and 4BC across NSW and Queensland, speaking with up to 70 callers a day and receiving as many email comments on issues as diverse as the proposed sugar tax, African youth gangs, immigrant integration, education policy, energy costs, climate change and sexual harassment. Across the field the perspective of the audience would be as divergent from the ABC view on these issues as the Trump example.
Callers are concerned about immigration and poor integration, sceptical about government interventions, opposed to new taxes, worried about energy prices and phlegmatic about alarmist claims on the climate. They are professionals, public servants, retirees, tradespeople and teachers with differing experiences and observations to share. But few, if any, of their views are the sort you could ever expect to hear on ABC, SBS or other “love media” staples.
This is an extraordinary divide. Where the public broadcasters, academics and political/media class see “extreme events” and dangerous “climate disruption”, the mainstream see weather and crippling electricity prices. Where the mainstream sees obvious African gang-related crime and worries about failed integration of South Sudanese refugees, the so-called elites and even leading Victorian police see only “networked youth offenders” and standard delinquency.
Where one narrative sees interfering politicians, overbearing government and burdensome taxation, the other sees the need for extra levies to force us to limit our sugar or alcohol intake. One narrative watches the Golden Globes and sees sanctimony, hypocrisy and trial by media while the other sees Hollywood taking a brave stand.
Perhaps no discussion better demonstrates this divide than the response to an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald last week about volunteering. It was based on a speech by Catherine Walsh, billed as a writer and teacher, who argued that volunteering was counterproductive, undercut paid work and relieved governments of their responsibilities.
Walsh urged us to “stop volunteering” and to campaign for laws to “abandon” fundraising, volunteers and charities so that future generations could be relieved of the “expectation” to support these “inefficient” systems. I don’t know what was more astonishing, that an adult would say or write such a thing or that a media organisation would publish it uncritically.
When I read excerpts on radio the reaction was understandable. People from all walks of life who were volunteers or had benefited from their generosity called to voice their dismay. State emergency service workers, fire fighters, library volunteers, art gallery guides, Meals on Wheels workers, St Vincent de Paul helpers — the list was endless. They were astonished at the lack of gratitude, and the stupidity.
How could this country function without rural fire volunteers, Country Women’s Association branches or surf lifesavers? Conversely, how could we ever amass enough tax to run such vital community organisations as paid professional outfits? It is as insulting as it is absurd.
Yet it perfectly encapsulates the schism. Only someone deeply embedded in the publicly funded political/media class — that artificially created reality — could entertain or share such thoughts. The only volunteers Walsh admired were activists protesting to change laws and policies. This truly is bizarro world. Walsh lauded the attention-seekers and troublemakers while she dissed the people who quietly improve the daily lives of fellow citizens.
It is not hard to see which view is right. And it is not a matter of opinion. The facts support the case for volunteers. Whether you assess the quality of their outcomes — tangible and intangible — or the cost of replacing their services with paid employees, you can see the inestimable value of their contribution to the nation. We know the overwhelming sway of public opinion would support the volunteers. It is a no-brainer.
This is the clue for our politicians, especially on the right-of-centre. If they don’t have the instincts to know which narrative should guide them on any issue — if they are lured off course by the false narrative of the so-called elites — they just need to concentrate on the facts. Go with the argument that is right. Go with the practical approach — this is the essence of conservatism.
Malcolm Turnbull has had difficulty doing this. His instinct is to accept the plaudits of the political/media class and run from the frankness, or even coarseness, of the matter-of-fact mainstream approach. Occasionally he shows encouraging signs. He has been forthright on the African gang problem. Strength is required, because to be frank on these issues is to invite vile abuse.
Turnbull’s one hope to extend his prime ministership is to strongly identify with the mainstream narrative on core issues and, more importantly, provide tangible proof that he understands the arguments by delivering action. Energy policy provides the greatest opportunity but his complicated National Energy Guarantee is insufficiently divergent from existing or Labor policy to create a sharp contest. He could end up with endorsement from Labor states, leading to a moderately improved system compared with the present mess but with the issue politically neutered.
The Prime Minister’s energy policy is still beholden to futile Paris targets, despite the US withdrawing and the international community asking next to nothing of China or India. While he backs Paris at the expense of affordable and reliable energy, he fails to give the mainstream what they really need and want — the cheapest and most reliable electricity.
Our competing narratives can broadly be described as left and right. But we can imagine a series of Venn diagrams where the flanks of the major parties overlap to share and swap members on various issues. Even business leaders fuel the left side of some debates because of corporate posturing, dinner-party imperatives or fear of social-media-driven reputational damage.
Turnbull and the Coalition need to have faith that the numbers are with the mainstream and common sense. Sure, the left narrative — with its academic and political/media class support — makes most of the noise and generates its own momentum. But Brexit, Trump and even Tony Abbott circa 2013 demonstrate that voters can flock to mainstream candidates no matter the hectoring and prognostications of the so-called elites. John Howard could never have won a single election unless this were true.
This requires strong advocacy from conviction politicians to give mainstream voters a guiding light through the deceptions of the political/media class. It demands leadership, not opinion poll watching.
Yet this is not a matter of theories, ideology or complex plans. Rather, it is about the facts.
In the issues mentioned earlier the facts support the mainstream view. Every weather event we are seeing has been seen before — from thousands of bats dying in Sydney heatwaves as they were observed doing back in 1792 to a freezing arctic winter in North America. Those seeking to talk up daily events to suit a narrative are constantly caught out — the Bureau of Meteorology’s homogenisation fiddles are still largely unexplained and last weekend it claimed an all-time maximum for the Sydney region before having to correct the record with a hotter day in 1939 (homogenised or not).
And facts tell us Australia’s energy policies cannot have a discernible effect on the global environment but can make us economically uncompetitive. Facts tell us poor or elderly Australians are more likely to die of heat stress or cold exposure if they cannot afford to use their heating or cooling. Mainstream voters are right to demand politicians focus on what they can change rather than on what they pretend to be able to influence — they don’t buy the gesture politics.
If not for the publicly funded ABC, SBS, subsidised magazines, universities and bureaucratic interventions, the false narratives of the virtue-signallers would be soundly defeated in the open marketplace of ideas. Instead, their nonsense dominates.
For much of last year journalists and commentators on the ABC spoke of a “reckless” Trump increasing the risk of “thermonuclear war” because of his sabre-rattling over North Korea. Radio National this week interviewed Christopher Hill, the US diplomat who led the six-party talks and other efforts under George W. Bush and Barack Obama to end North Korea’s weapons programs. Host Hamish Macdonald and Hill joked and mocked Trump’s efforts at diplomacy. Yet it was Hill and the West who had been played for fools by North Korea, leaving the world with this nuclear-armed legacy, and it is Trump who has delivered stronger sanctions from the UN, US and China.
With the small but welcome development this week of the North and South holding talks, the ABC dropped its theme of Trump as the dominant and ham-fisted player and busied itself explaining why he could not claim credit for what had transpired. One moment its narrative had Trump bringing us to the brink of war (when things looked ominous) and the next we had the bellicose diplomacy of the world’s most powerful leader being irrelevant (when there were promising signs). This deception might pass muster on Q&A but it does not pass the pub test.
The national broadcaster quotes Al Jazeera, Buzzfeed and CNN to mock and sneer at Trump and the daily confected scandals but seems to have missed the import of what is happening with American taxation reforms, the global economy and other developments in international relations. If this is how jaundiced and inaccurate it can be on issues where we can all see the facts, imagine what it might be getting away with on education policy, healthcare issues, border protection controversies and the climate and energy debate.
Turnbull must be wary of the false narratives, eschew posturing, follow facts over ideology and connect with mainstream views. If he doesn’t, we will see another bizarro administration and the mainstream will wait longer for a more momentous reckoning.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here