Michael Pascoe writes:

Never mind Federal anti-terrorist
legislation, for draconian knee-jerk political stunts you can’t beat NSW’s
born-again riot busters.

In the wake of the Cronulla riots, the home of the political vacuum will
recall Parliament
tomorrow to pass a raft of laws that could make John Howard
jealous. And just as federal government and opposition happily jumped
into bed
together for Laura Norder, so both sides of NSW politics are rooting
for 15-year jail terms for riot and disorder and the removal of the
presumption of bail
for such offences.

If you find yourself in NSW with criminal
intent, it seems you’re much better off sticking to armed robbery, fraud or
manslaughter than freeing your drunken inner yob in company.

But wait, there’s more. NSW Police Minister
Carl “Hapless” Scully intends to hit the gangs where it really

These characters are using their cars and mobile
phones to conduct convoys with intent and they are getting a very strong
message, he said.

They love their cars and their phones and they’re
going to have them taken off them.

The difficult thing to guess here is who is
racing to protect their backsides quickest – the police or the politicians. It’s
a joke to think there’s much difference between a five and a 15-year maximum
sentence for rioting and even Hapless and Morrie Iemma are hard put to pretend that
upping the sentence will make a difference at this stage.

It’s almost as big a joke as Iemma and John
Howard pretending there isn’t a racist undercurrent in Australia
– there is in every country that I know of. I’d happily bet Morrie was called
“dago” and “wop” as a child more times than he’s attended branch meetings.

Instead of just trying to spin their way
out of embarrassment, the government and opposition should be asking the harder
questions like how were a few gangs allowed to become such a problem and an excuse for Cronulla’s appalling
display of red neck racism and violence?

Has it been a failure of nerve or resources
behind the police failing to take them on under existing laws?

The government’s desperate need to be seen
to be doing something is behind tomorrow’s parliamentary side show. It’s all spin and
no substance. Oh well, at least it’s kept the Cross City
Tunnel off the front page…