You’re not helping, Kevin

For all the problems you see around the world, Melbourne has, I think, been generally peaceful when it comes to race relations. Indeed, there are plans afoot to permanently implant some cultures’ businesses into particular city streets — an extension of the concept already used in Chinatown that would spread to the Greek precinct, the Lygon Street Italian district, and possibly others.

But it seems the Sudanese community is under a lot of scrutiny just at the moment, not helped by immigration minister Kevin Andrews, who has cited lack of integration as a reason for culling the African migration quota. Why he did this is unclear, with the opposition pointing out that the decision was actually made on the basis of which refugees are in the most need, and that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has determined that the focus has moved to the Middle East for now.

The cynics might say Andrews is playing the race card coming into the election, that it’s this year’s Tampa.

Following the tragic death of Liep Gony at Noble Park, 17-year-old Ajang Gor was assaulted by four white men in Melton, who then used his phone to SMS abusive messages to his family. Gor summed up the situation with Kevin Andrews’ comments and the subsequent tabloid frenzy beautifully (and a hundred times more eloquently than his attackers):

“It’s been said that we Sudanese are misbehaving and that there is a higher rate of crime, but I’m not sure if all these accusations are right.

“I cannot deny that some Sudanese are misbehaving, but not all Sudanese are doing it. In every community there are bad people.”

Indeed, the UNHCR noted comments from Victorian police that “that Sudanese people are under-represented in crime statistics”.

Then yesterday morning it was reported a policeman in Noble Park had been bashed by at least one of a group of drunken youths (but notably helped by some of the others in the group).

Kevin Andrews weighed into this one, saying that the incident did not reflect “the Australian way of life”. But as police Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans pointed out to Jon Faine, “last night for example in Melbourne, at Maribyrnong and Mornington Pensinsula, similar sort of things happened”, and remarked that the common theme was not race, but young males and alcohol. Evans noted that the other two incidents wouldn’t get reported.

Faine went on to talk about it with Pat Dodson, making the points that breaking down the walls and celebrating different cultures, particularly with newer groups of immigrants such as Africans, is the way to encouraging harmony.

Bravo. Which reminds me, there’s an awesome Ethiopian restaurant in Footscray I can’t wait to get back to.

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7 Replies to “You’re not helping, Kevin”

  1. Daniel
    Wow! What a coherent, well researched piece you wrote today. And spot on.
    If I hear another politician claim that doing something wrong is “unAustralian”, I’ll scream. So, does that mean in New Zealand it’s OK to bash someone to death?
    Keep up the good work!
    Rog.

  2. Come on. The sooner we roll out the citizenship test and check for good Australian values, the happier I’ll be.

    In fact I think everyone of voting age should be required to take the test. If they fail, then they get shipped out as part of the “Pacific Solution”.

  3. The racist attitude of some of the ministers is deplorable. What is worse is that they actually reflect the views of a large number of Australians.

    Despite this, I’m hopeful they don’t reflect the views of *most* Australians.

    Use your vote peoples!

  4. 2 things:
    1- The fact that two other police were assaulted that night makes no difference- this still means that 1/3 of police assaults were by a sudanese thug- TOO HIGH

    2- I have had a good listen into all of Kevin Andrews interviews, and much of the time he speaks sense, but some particular comments are taken completely out of context to make him sound unreasonable.

    That said, most Sudanese people are law abiding and peaceful, however there is a significant minority who don’t adapt to Australia’s way of life. But to blame Kevin Andrews for all the problems is ridiculous.

  5. Rob, but the Vic Police say overall Sudanese are under-represented in crime stats, which means that community is not where the biggest problem is.

  6. I catch the train at the Noble Park station and there is a very small group of people who are always around when trouble starts. Many of them are Aussies, but that won’t rate well on the news, so you’ll never hear about them. The other thing is that they are kids, some as young as 12 or so. Kids out late at night, unsupervised. Plenty of time, nothing to do. A recipe for trouble.

    The truth is that Noble Park is a poor suburb, with few services, underfunded police, no police station and a bottle shop within walking distance of the train station which sells lots of portable alcohol, much of which ends up in the hands of minors.

    I live in a neighboring suburb and we receive better police coverage and have no bottle shops of this type.

    It has nothing to do with race. Noble Park is a neglected area and it shows.

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