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More victims of the “African gangs narrative”, Howard’s interesting take on Victoria, and Tracey Spicer’s maddening explanation for the paucity of Me Too scalps in Australia. 

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours…

“African gang” story continues to bite. Roughly a year of relentless, statistically dubious stories of “African gangs” in Melbourne, shouted by the Murdoch papers and Channel 7, and echoed (and occasionally forgotten) by senior Coalition members at federal and state levels, doesn’t appear to have shifted a single vote in the Coalition’s favour. If recent election results are anything to go by, it’s had the opposite effect. But it does continue to impact it’s targets in many ways, big and small

And so comes the quietly heartbreaking report from the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association that they are unable to host their annual Summer Slam in 2018, a tournament with a 15 year history, because sponsors and stadium managers are now too scared to host them. From its Facebook page:

We have struggled to get stadiums to host the tournaments. When we got a stadium, unrealistic barriers were put in the way so that the event was not held. Stadium managers are afraid to host our event because of the African gang stories they see in the news. Some of our partner organisations have also had concerns towards our event because of the fear that has been created. 

The post goes on to note the tournaments, which keep kids motivated to turn up to training every week, are a “huge part of the solution towards youth problems”. And so the public space that can be occupied by “youths of African appearance” shrinks a little more, and kids being exhorted to assimilate better are reminded they aren’t actually welcome.

But hey, at least The Australian got a few front pages out of it and Matthew Guy was never short of talking points during his failed campaign. 

Spicer revelation. There was a tantalising and maddening allusion in the Guardian’s new podcast “Witch Hunt”, looking at the Me Too movement in Australia over the last year. Their first interview subject, Tracey Spicer, one of the figureheads of the movement here, went through some of the reasons that, a few high profile scalps aside, the flurry of messages she received detailing stories of sexual harassment hasn’t translated into a flurry of revelations.

One was Australia’s famously litigant friendly defamation laws. But also, she very carefully and elliptically said, Australian media organisations are now backing away from publishing Me Too stories because they are getting “too close to their own executives”. 

One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson’s take on immigration… may surprise you. Ms Tips can hear the collective shake of the head from the Crikey readership, and sure, we get it — Pauline Hanson said something weird about immigration? Heaven forefend! And yes, if we bothered to chronicle Hanson’s every content-free outrage aimed at new arrivals to Australia, we’d have no room nor time for anything else. But still, this is something else.

You may have heard of John Allen Chau, the American missionary who went and got himself arrowed to death by trying to illegally contact the Sentinelese people, a remote tribe who inhabit an island in the Bay of Bengal and have remained uncontacted for 30,000 years. Confronted with this situation — a man bringing the gift of western civilisation to indigenous people, being killed by them, with the law powerless to intervene — what would you guess Hanson’s take would be? Actually, she sides with the tribe, because of their immigration policy. As she announced on her Facebook page

… Today I will be asking the Senate to acknowledge the terrible impact immigration would have on the Sentinelese people and to support them in their desire to protect their way of life through the enforcement of their strict zero-gross immigration policy.

It will be interesting to see if Labor and the Greens are willing to support a country with such harsh immigration rules. You would think they would be offended by the lack of diversity right?

A helluva campaign. It was a strange election campaign in Victoria, but according to a tipster, one of the most bizarre scenes occurred at the Camberwell Markets, where former shadow attorney-general John Pesutto appeared to have a run-in with a man bearing the garb of notorious bikie gang Hells Angels.

A source told Ms Tips that Pesutto handed the gentleman a Liberal-branded shopping bag, only for a staffer to soon notice his gang insignia. Efforts to repossess the bag failed and the apparent motorcycle enthusiast went on his way. Pesutto’s team can’t be blamed for wanting to avoid an embarrassing photo-op, particularly after Matthew Guy’s infamous “lobster with a mobster” last year. Things would only get worse for Pesutto, who on Saturday was forced to learn he was likely to lose his once-safe Liberal seat of Hawthorn while speaking on live TV. The seat is still in question, with Pesutto holding a lead of 0.09%.

How hard is it to check these things? We don’t wish to confuse correlation with causation, but these days, the sight of former prime minister John Howard in campaign mode is a sure sign the Liberals are due a shellacking at the polls. He was there as Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie extended her lead over the Libs in Mayo, he “helped” Dave Sharma suffer a record swing against them in Wentworth and he hit the streets of Victoria before the party’s vote in that state shuddered into rubble all around them. 

Again, Howard is an experienced campaigner, and if his presence didn’t help, there were plenty of other things to blame these catastrophes on. According to Howard, Victorians are the Australian equivalent of those lefty, gay marriage loving warmenists in Massachusetts. Apparently, Australian conservatives may as well abandon all hope in Victoria, just as American conservatives have in Massachusetts — a state currently led by… *checks notes*… Republican Charlie Baker, frequently voted “America’s most popular governor” and who was just reelected by the largest margin of any Massachusetts governor for nearly a quarter of a century.

Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected], use our guaranteed anonymous form or other ways to leak to us securely.

Peter Fray

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