It seems that the cooperation between the Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police, announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in June of 20171 has been an abject failure. The failure seems clear because Health Minister Greg Hunt has stated that African gang crime is out of control in parts of Victoria, and he of course has called for tougher sentencing laws as Health Ministers tend to do in topics outside their portfolio. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that he was also very concerned about the level of violence and lawlessness in Victoria. The Victorian Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy has also called for mandatory sentencing, although that was thrown out by the courts the last time it was tried2. Despite these politicians giving us the benefit of their vast experience in dealing with crime, the Victoria Police have effectively stated the opposite, that they are on top of Melbourne’s youth crime problem. Indeed, it seems that based on statistics, youth crime is actually decreasing in Victoria3. I expect that statistics are one thing, but politicians never let the facts get in the way of a good story, particularly one with which they can beat their political opponents. Politicians seem to think that their beliefs are much more reliable than mere facts. One could be forgiven for believing that the extraordinary abilities of Coalition politicians and their supporters in the Murdoch press, far and away exceeds that of the police, and only serves to suggest a paucity of experience in the various police services in dealing with crime. It probably has nothing to do with the Andrews government passing some very progressive policies through its parliament4. Progressive policies scare the bejesus out of conservatives, especially conservatives of the rabidly religious variety, which seem to rule the Coalition these days.
A similar dose of spin was generated with the running down of pedestrians in Flinders Street in Melbourne. The perpetrator was a Muslim, but according to the police, he had a history of drug use and mental illness5,6. However, the ruperters7 in the Murdoch press; those like Chris Kenny, were certain that it was a terrorist incident8. It is such a bonus that they, like the Coalition politicians, can give the benefit of their vast experience to the police.
While there was an enormous amount of coverage of the incident in Melbourne, little attention was paid to a similar incident on Little Stanley Street in Brisbane on December 10th. She mounted the kerb and drove at pedestrians, striking a group and injuring one man9,10. One suspects that this received less publicity because the perpetrator was female and was apparently not a Muslim.
It seems that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Health Greg Hunt, and Victorian Opposition leader Matthew Guy all received the same present for Christmas: dogwhistles, and like children with their Christmas tricycles, they are giving them a bit of a workout over the holidays.