Crikey’s Crime Correspondent, Hugo Kelly, reports that Bob Carr and Steve Bracks are gearing up for election campaigns fought on a non-existent crime wave.

OK, we made the journo bit up. But you get the picture. Big bold Bob is getting very, very hard on crime, as he scares up the electorate and welcomes back our good friend, Laura Norder.

And Thursday’s Herald Sun reveals plans by the Bracks Government to crack down on those nasty Victorian crims. “CRIME WON’T PAY”, screams the P1 Hun splash.

Does anyone smell elections in the air?

Sunday Herald-Sun Victorian political reporter, “Donkey Dave” Wilson yesterday even came out and named the date Steve Bracks plans to go to the voters – 30 November.

See Donkey Dave’s story here.

The fact that David Wilson apparently knows Victoria’s election date is an indictment on the rest of the Spring Street press gallery. Dave – Jeff Kennett’s former spinner – has no Labor contacts, apart from the odd disgrunted union hack, or the occasional ALP staffer he might accidentaly bump into during one of his long bourbon-and-coke sessions down at the Imperial hotel.

Meanwhile at Macquarie Street, Bruvver Bob Carr was getting into Bovver Boy mode, hammering the teenage lad who got his head split open by a brutal publican for falling asleep in a pub after sneaking in after hours, and was awarded $50,000 compo for his extensive injuries. And last month, Bob was playing the race card as he successfully threw petrol on the gang-rape controversy involving a group of Lebanese youths.

Carr’s announcement was a logical extension of his cynical manipulation of crime & punishment. Bob Carr is anti-streetcrime and anti-rehabilitation of street criminals. Sounding increasingly like a hardline Republican Christian right-winger, he’s dancing to talkback radio and tabloid newspaper’s familiar tunes. He’s an Australian Pat Robertson.

“If all these people are in jail for longer, then we are all safer,” he declared. Yes, Bob, especially government MPs. They’ll be much safer.

Last week, when Saint Steve and the Big Bad Bob went wading in the Snowy River, imagine the conversation as they compared plans to scare their respective electorates into submission.

Under the new Bob Carr Re-election Act (2002), some 19 crimes from killings to car-jackings will have new longer minimum terms. Murder goes up to 20 years, from an average 14.

Judges still have final discretion in sentencing, so it’s window-dressing we’re talking about here. The deliciously-named Law Society chief, Kim Cull, put it aptly: “Instead of politicians coming up with solutions that seem to appeal to community fear, they need to come up with long-term solutions to complex issues.”

Keep dreaming, Kim.

Once again, Carr is trying to turn attention away from his government’s chronic economic and budget mismanagement.

He managed to woo former Daily Telegraph editor Col Allan, turning the Tele into a NSW Labor lapdog. We hope new-ish Telegraph editor Campbell Reid is made of sterner stuff, and will see through this blatant and empty populism.

While Carr seeks to bamboozle the electorate, reality eats away at any residual integrity his government may cling to. What sort of premier allows a colorful political identity, Paul Whelan, to settle in as longtime Police Minister while running a burgeoning hotel and pokies mini-empire? Who believes Eddie Obeid’s strident denials of skullduggery in the $1 million “Midnight at the Oasis” influence peddling scandal? And what of the former ALP Minister-turned-Liverpool-Mayor-turned-ex-Liverpool-Mayor, George Paciullo?

Steve Bracks hasn’t been in office long enough for this sort of stuff to emerge. Plus, the high-powered management committee watching over him, the Gang of Three from the bush, has kept him busy with their never-ending list of special favours.

Saint Steve holds power by indulgence of the three Independents – and hasn’t he been indulging them lately. Craig Ingram got his Snowy River flowing; Susan Davies is dragging Bracks and Environment Minister Garbutt through the hoops in the crazy Seal Rocks Affair; Russell Savage, too, has scored wins on his own pet issues on key policies like keeping transsexual teachers out of our kiddies’ classrooms.

It’s been great fun, and as a result, Bracks’ 30 months in office has been marked by caution, conservatism and a healthy dose of paranoia.

There is one lesson for electors from the Bracks experiment that the people of NSW might want to take to heart: Citizens who want attentive service from their state governments had better vote for a credible Independent candidate.

But not everyone is able to bang the crime gong with finesse. Leave it to the Victorian Liberal party to screw up a Laura Norder fear campaign. Surely only they could have wasted $50,000 on a pre-election advertising campaign that misrepresented the crime stats and had to be pulled from TV screens in humiliating fashion.

Dare we say it…bring back Dynamic Den. At least Napthine wasn’t ambitious enough to dream-up such a dodgy campaign, and displayed more public humility in defeat than the born-again “Scotch College Sergeant-Major” who now runs the Parliamentary Liberal Party.

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