Images of violence from the Cronulla riots dominate the front pages today, with The Oz reporting that gangs of youths embarked on a series of “hit and
run” revenge attacks across Sydney’s beachside suburbs last night after
a day of racial violence that saw mobs rampage through the beach suburb, in the
city’s south, bashing anyone of Middle Eastern appearance.

But “real locals”
were shocked and embarrassed by
race-fuelled violence at Cronulla Beach, a
small-business operator told the paper. More than 20 people were
injured and 16 arrested after the violence
broke out at Cronulla Beach and spread to nearby suburbs. And in
education news, the paper reports that thousands of Asia’s “best and
brightest” students
will receive funding to study in Australian universities under a
federal government scholarship program worth hundreds of millions of
dollars.


The SMH
reports that Neo-Nazis are believed to have been among those who took
part in the race-fuelled violence at Cronulla,
NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says. Up to 5,000 people
descended on the beach yesterday. One woman was pictured at Cronulla
Beach holding a poster that
read “Aussies fighting back.” Her photo appeared in a Sydney News
Limited newspaper today. She was advertising a group called the
Patriotic Youth League.

Cronulla was “possibly Australia’s biggest racist protest” since
vigilante miners killed two Chinese residents at Lambing Flat in 1860, says eyewitness Damien Murphy. Sometimes when a victim was cornered, the mob started singing
Waltzing Matilda. Advance AustraliaFair was
similarly employed against obstructing police, and the “usually
good-natured ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’ chant in the mouths of the
Cronulla crew assumed a menacing tone.”

The Daily Tele
reports on federal Liberal backbencher Bruce Baird’s comments, who has
said that the rioting is revenge for the Bali bombings and the
September 11
attacks. Mr Baird, whose Cook electorate takes in many of the south
eastern
Sydney suburbs affected by the wave of violence, said
tensions had been simmering within the primarily Anglo-Saxon community
against people of Middle Eastern descent for some time. He told ABC
radio that many locals were angry, particularly after six women from
the area were killed in the 2002 Bali bombings.

“Where this riot took place is actually the site of where we’ve got
the
Bali memorial for these women,” Mr Baird said. Asked if the riots were
revenge for Bali and September 11, Mr Baird said: “I think so.”

“Dark forces in society” had been stirred up by people who used
talkback radio to spread messages of hate ahead of the violent flare-up
in Sydney, Community Relations Commission chairman Stepan Kerkyasherian
has said. The Age rehashes the chairman’s comments to ABC radio, “The reality of this is it took place because people played the
racist card – they sent around text messages, they rang up talkback
radio and they used the talkback forum … Now it is not the fault of the media – it is people who are using
the medium of talkback radio to get their message of hatred
across.”

And in other news buried by the riots, a government-funded pregnancy support package aimed at curbing
the abortion rate is due to be considered by senior ministers
today, as the Senate inquiry into RU486 turns into a battleground
between pro-life and pro-choice supporters.

“Nation’s day of shame,” thunders the Herald Sun,
reporting that police
were powerless to quell the violence at Cronulla, resorting to batons
and capsicum spray to rescue people fleeing packs of attackers. An
ambulance called to the scene to treat five bashing victims was pelted
with beer bottles and rocks, smashing its windows.

And in local news, more than 47,500 Year 12 students
will be celebrating this morning after finding they passed the VCE.
Among them are 32 students who achieved the highest possible ENTER
score – 99.95. This “elite group” of pupils smashed last year’s record
by more than a third.

They called it a day of pride, but yesterday’s riots in Cronulla will “go down as a day of national disgrace,” says The Courier-Mail.
By this morning 25 people had been injured and 16 arrested, about 40 cars were vandalised and an Australian flag was burned.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma today described the behaviour as “stomach turning” and said it would not be tolerated.

“Libs looking sick in the suburbs,” reports The Advertiser, with a “huge metropolitan swing” to Labor putting the
Rann Government on track to easily win two key north-eastern suburbs
seats, taking one from the Liberals. Losing Newland would be a “body blow” to the electorally-ailing Liberals,
who have held the seat for the past 16 years through former minister
and retiring MP Dorothy Kotz.

The Mercury focuses on ailing disability services in the state, running a picture of Hobart woman
Michelle Wylie who, after a near-death experience, desperately wants to go home to be cared for by her
family but can’t. Despite being eligible for $15,000 of State Government funding to
renovate the family bathroom, Mrs Wylie and her husband Barry have
twice been told no money is available. The Wylies are among hundreds of Tasmanians who can’t get vital
funding to help care for disabled family members because Disability
Services has run out of money.

West Australians are uneasy about the impact of the controversial new
Federal workplace laws, with nearly a third believing they will be
worse off, reports The West Australian, but most will not vote for Labor to get them changed,
according to the latest Westpoll. The results put WA at odds with national polls showing growing anger
over the industrial changes that would help Labor crush the coalition.

In news up north, the NT News reports that territorians are in for a “shocker of a stinger season,” new figures show.
There have been three reported stings on Top End beaches so far this wet season.