Despite the Victorian election being up to 11 months away, the campaign has already started, with the conservative dogwhistle being sounded by the appalling Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, as well as the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the Health Minister, Greg Hunt. The former has stated that people in Melbourne are afraid to go out to restaurants because they will be ‘followed home’ by African gangs1. This assertion was initially not challenged by the media, which demonstrated how bereft of ability most modern journalists are. The fact that it was said on Chris Kenny’s Sydney 2GB radio show2 speaks volumes. Chris Kenny was Malcolm Turnbull’s chief of staff during the idiotic ‘Utegate’ affair, when Turnbull mad a complete fool of himself based on some bogus e-mails concocted by one Godwin Grech3. Dutton was eventually called out by Nick McCallum on Melbourne radio station 3AW, who accused him of trying to score political points in an election year (Really? You think so?). As McCallum said “I don’t think it helps when a federal minister says something like that and can’t back it up, having not spoken to the people themselves and relying on another federal MP who is a Liberal to tell him that sort of information. It seems to be exacerbating the problem”2. When McCallum challenged Dutton to provide evidence, the latter used a Trumpian (people are saying…) defence in saying he had spoken to a “number of people” as well as parliamentary colleagues, but named only federal MP Jason Wood2. What Wood thinks of being dropped in it, is unknown.
In fact, Victoria is the only state or territory in which the number of offenders decreased (by 4%) between 2014-2015 and 2015-20164. This is what the federal Government cannot cope with; a moderately successful progressive government.
After the idiotic efforts of Dutton, Turnbull and Hunt, their media supporters then swung into action, with the Daily Mail initially coming out in support. The Daily Mail illustrated their article with what someone recognised was not actually a gang, but was a rap band. This is standard practice for the Daily Mail, a rag which is impossible to satirise5. Now Murdoch’s media has swung into action, with the Herald Sun and the Australian now publishing stories on African gangs, to the exclusion of other crime stories. However, the reason the Federal Government are so desperate is because they only have two states (Tasmania and New South Wales) where the Liberal and National parties are in government. On top of this, there are serious concerns about the longevity of the Tasmanian Liberal government, and the New South Wales government seems already to be in terminal decline, so an attempt to regain government in Victoria is seen as imperative. This is also in part because the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party is deeply in debt6, and being in government brings in cash from donors who see an opportunity to bend the government to their will. In addition, while losing Tasmania and New South Wales would normally be seen as just part of the ebb and flow of the political tide, Conservatives know their economic paradigm of neoliberalism is finished, and all states could end up with Labor governments. If these state governments are sufficiently progressive, a direction in which the Labor Party seems increasingly to be moving, the Liberal and National parties know that a Federal Labor government would be more likely. Conservatism is fortunately dying, and progressivism will replace it. Who those progressives are depends on whether the Labor Party are brave enough to be them. If progressives do actually get into government, the populace will eventually find out just how criminally kleptocratic this Conservative Federal Government has been.