Michael Pascoe writes:
The NSW Premier of Italian appearance has
gone a little further down the dog whistle track than even the cynics might
have expected his hapless government to travel. It’s what governments do when
they actually aren’t doing anything.
Anne Davies nails Morrie Iemma and the
perhaps-worse opposition leader, Peter Debnam, in today’s SMH – and perhaps starts another in-house Fairfax columnist
feud as well.
Davies chronicles Iemma’s steady descent
through a series of failures and knee-jerks over the whole Lebanese
gangs/Cronulla riots issue:
Having gone from a statesman-like position of not
labelling offenders by their ethnicity, Iemma on Friday repeatedly referred to
the revenge attackers as “grubs”, and changed the name of Taskforce
Gain – which has been dealing for four years with organised crime in south-west
Sydney – to the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad.
He was unable to explain how Middle Eastern crime differs
from other forms of organised crime, which might justify this title. Nor, it
seems, will this squad be dealing with the revenge attacks, as these did not
come within the definition of organised crime proffered by Iemma: murder,
supply of drugs and other serious offences.
Imagine the furore if Iemma had announced the Italian
organised crime squad, with no clear justification of the need for it.
With the NSW Police Commissioner facing his
own rebellion over stupidly sacking the
head of Strike Force Enoggera, the police force itself continues to be the
biggest loser from the Laura Norder political auction. (And who thinks up these
dipsy task force names? Enoggera is a Brisbane suburb
that I think still has an army barracks and training facility.)
Davies lashes Debnam for pushing the game
Then he took the next step of insinuating that Labor and
the police were soft on Middle Eastern crime because Iemma was indebted to the
Lebanese community, which had been enlisted in the early 1990s as part of a
huge branch-stacking exercise. If Iemma has ordered the police to go soft on
Lebanese gangs, this should immediately be referred to the Independent
Commission Against Corruption. It is hard to imagine a more serious form of
But Debnam, and the newspaper columnists who have
promulgated this woolly notion of a link between Labor branch membership and
policing in south-western Sydney, are happy to string these ideas together without anything to join the
dots other than the word “Lebanese.”
It’s as absurd as suggesting Debnam will be soft on
corporate crime if he becomes premier because his Vaucluse branch is stacked
with the captains of industry, thanks to Malcolm Turnbull’s stackathon two
Gee, I wonder which newspaper columnists Ms
Davies is referring to. I wonder if Paul Sheehan’s desk is anywhere near hers.