Forget Dutton's scares about gangs on the streets of Melbourne, writes managing editor Dave Donovan, the thing we should be really frightened of is his Government.
2017 has been widely regarded as being even worse than 2016, which was itself commonly thought to be the most worst year in history at that time. I am sure you can remember why many thought so: Trump, wars, bombings, natural disasters, crises, Brexit, Alt-Right, climate change, wars on renewables, RWNJs, mainstream media, Dutton, Abbott, Turnbull, whatnot...
We would love to tell you 2018 will be better than 2017, but the early signs are not good. I mean, even in his New Year’s Eve tweet, Trump continued his unhinged attacks.
Maybe Donald will be impeached in 2018? Probably not.
As our Country rapidly grows stronger and smarter, I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year. 2018 will be a great year for America!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017
But let’s focus on Australia for a moment.
There has only been two big stories in the media so far this year.
One was about how much ordinary Australians are paying in their tax to fund “welfare bludgers”. This was in response to an FOI request to the Australian Tax Office by former Anti-Union Minister Eric Abetz. The mainstream media charitably ran with this in the Christmas week, from 28 December 2017. It ran on all TV channels and newspapers and is still a live topic today. As you’d expect, it was run with the most vehemence, vitriol and bitterness in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp propaganda sheets.
As Michael West wrote in an excellent article on this subject:
“Average taxpayers are handing over $35 every week to prop up aged pensioners,” said the Daily Telegraph in high indignation. “Prop up”? Do these pensioners really deserve to be propped up or shall we just put them out on the streets?
This “prop up” language from an organisation which was ranked as the number one “Tax Risk” in Australia by the Tax Office, an organisation whose pay TV outfit Foxtel pocketed a cool $30 million hand-out from government last year and has paid zero tax for three years on $8.4 billion in income.
When they released the tax transparency data before Christmas, showing many of the biggest companies in the world pay little or no tax here, the government snuck the release out half an hour before the denouement in the same sex marriage vote. The media dutifully missed the story.
This year, the Tax Office data showed 354 of Australia’s biggest companies have now paid zero tax in three consecutive years on a combined total income of $911 billion. It should be said that some of these have a bona fidereason for not paying tax, an industry downturn or large tax losses. Most don’t.
As it is the season, we can only hope these media organisations make this New Year’s resolution, “We will give up drinking, smoking and republishing tendentious government press releases”.
Good luck with that, Michael!
Then there was the other classic witch hunt over “South Sudanese youth gang violence” in Victoria. This was launched by Malcolm Turnbull as he stood cheerfully in sky blue polo shirt in front of the ocean in Sydney on New Year’s Day.
.@TurnbullMalcolm: We are very concerned by the growing gang violence and lawlessness in Victoria. This is a failure of the Andrews government. MORE: https://t.co/i504Kih1jP pic.twitter.com/1q36BFGjX2— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) January 1, 2018
It was a transparent attack on the Victorian Labor Government of Daniel Andrews, as Murdoch’s The Australian gleefully confirmed:
‘With a state election scheduled for November, Mr Turnbull is understood to have told his Victorian colleagues that the gang problem is fundamentally a state issue and that Mr Andrews should not be permitted to shirk responsibility. “This is a failure of the Andrews government,’’ Mr Turnbull said yesterday, adding that community policing was a “state issue’’.’
Like Trump, Turnbull couldn’t even wait until January 2 to restart his petty, partisan attacks. Two tiny men, with tiny little hands, who shouldn’t even run a corner store let alone their nations.
Then we had psychopathic monstrosity Peter Dutton maniacally declaring that people are afraid to walk the streets or go to restaurants in Melbourne for fear of being beaten up by gangs. As well as immigration, Home Affairs Minister Dutton now runs the State security apparatus, which is something to be truly frightened about.
Of course, the media have been running with the narrative of lawless South Sudanese youths running amuck, terrifying the community, interspersed with selective old video footage and solemn pieces to camera.
The reality is that there is South Sudanese youth violence and crime in Victoria. Just as there is youth violence and crime from other ethnic groups. Just as there is violence and crime among homegrown Australians, especially its disadvantaged youth. The media focussing on “African gangs” ‒ as they are now being called ‒ is just picking up on bigoted dog-whistling anti-immigrant Government rhetoric.
Yes, the South Sudanese are slightly over-represented in Victorian crime statistics — but not by much. In fact, Victorian Police say they contribute a tiny amount to the State’s crime. And Victoria’s crime rate is not increasing, in fact it significantly decreased in 2017 in virtually all areas, just as it is has gone down over the last decade. It is nothing short of shameful that the mainstream mediocre has picked up and ran with this tawdry Turnbull-minted moral panic.
Peter Dutton says he believes people in Melbourne are scared to go to restaurants because of the threat from African gangs. @andrew_lund #9News pic.twitter.com/KJ6itPcdot— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) January 3, 2018
You can read more about moral panics, by the way, in IA contributor Dr Barry Hindess’ excellent October 2017 article about youth gang violence between Mods and Greasers in England — in the 1960s. You might think the media would be getting tired of bashing up on youth by now, but guess not. As long as the public keep on lapping it up...
So, much as we would like to say things will be looking up in 2018, the early indications are they won’t. Turnbull Government members know people hate them with a passion — because they are selfish, self-serving, mean, callous, vindictive, venal and do not have the public interest at heart. But they also know the public are not particularly in love with Labor, either. So, the Coalition will do its best to try to make themselves a little less hated than the ALP in 2018. It's their last and only hope.
So it will be more of the same this year, but with more intensity. More attacks, more dog-whistling, more low-brow, divisive politics, of the kind popularised under Howard and perfected under Abbott — but no vision, no inspiration and no hope. Not from the Turnbull Government, at any rate.
Happy New Year!
Melburnians – if you head out to a restaurant tonight, why not send @PeterDutton_MP a pic of your dinner? Let's show him we're not affected by his brand of fear-mongering.https://t.co/WMkwjAyfgQ— GetUp! (@GetUp) January 3, 2018
This is a slightly abridged version of the latest Independent Australia subscriber only weekly newsletter editorial. If you would like to receive the newsletter in your inbox every week, you may subscribe HERE.
You can follow managing editor Dave Donovan on Twitter @davrosz.
The current "African youth violence" or "African gangs" is a classic moral panic (AKA witch hunt), as explained by @barryhindess on @independentaus last year in a different context: https://t.co/1uvTlY6QOY— Dave Donovan (@davrosz) January 2, 2018
The media reports and language are, I should add, also downright racist.