The Victorian Labor government and Victoria Police do not seem capable of stopping rampant crime by South Sudanese Australians in suburban Melbourne and occasionally in the CBD itself.
Most recently, on Wednesday evening — when two predominantly African gangs clashed in Taylors Hill — residents were advised by police to stay inside their homes with doors locked.
The morning after the riot, Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said she had directed Metro Trains to remove Sky News from CBD station screens. According to Allan, “hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community”. So the Victorian government, which seems powerless to stop the growing number of home invasions, armed robberies and carjackings, has moved swiftly to protect travellers from “hatred and racism” at railway stations. Yet there is no evidence that any traveller has been motivated to engage in hatred or racism on account of watching a Sky News program in a public place. Allan’s decision is a huge over-reaction.
I happened to be watching Sky News at 6pm last Sunday when The Adam Giles Show began. I was stunned when Blair Cottrell of the United Patriots Front turned up for an interview and amazed when presenter Giles not only failed to ask any probing questions but wished the convicted criminal good luck for the future.
It was evident Giles was totally out of his depth. A career in Northern Territory politics — even one to the rank of chief minister — is not necessarily a qualification for presenting a talk show. Giles appeared to know all but nothing about what I term the lunar Right in general or the UPF in particular. As it turned out, Cottrell was not unduly provocative on this occasion, which is why criticism has focused not on what he said but on his presence in the Sky News Melbourne studio.
For its part, Sky News acted promptly. Unlike the ABC, which invariably is reluctant to issue apologies or even correct errors, Sky News apologised for the fact the interview went to air. It suspended The Adam Giles Show and said Cottrell would not be invited on to the station again. Sky News also removed the program from its online platforms. All this within less than a day.
None of this is good enough for the Victorian government. Allan has moved to protect train travellers from the views of an anti-Semite and a self-proclaimed racist who will never appear on Sky News again.
Allan seems to believe that Victorians are not clever enough to make up their own minds on the issues of the day and can have their minds poisoned from hearing parts of an interview before boarding the 3.10 to Yuma (or whatever). In fact, the Cottrell interview was not shown in the package prepared by Sky News for Metro Trains. But Allan wants to censor Sky News anyway.
Sky News has modelled itself on the highly successful Fox News in the US. It serves up hard news from breakfast until 6pm, when opinion shows take over. Most of Sky News’ “after dark” hosts are well informed and alert. But on occasion presenters and producers make errors. It’s called live TV.
It’s not clear whether the state government plans to replace Sky News at CBD railway stations with something else. Let’s hope it’s not the ABC. When Mark Scott was ABC managing director, he set up what was called ABC News 24 on the public broadcaster’s second channel. It was anything but a 24-hour news station and was replete with magazine-style programs and many repeats.
On Michelle Guthrie’s watch, News 24 was replaced by ABC News. Once again this is not a 24-hour news channel. Moreover, it’s dreadfully boring for much of the time. Which, no doubt, explains why Qantas and Virgin carry Sky News at Australia’s major airports. Already there are calls from the Sky News haters in our midst to force Australian airlines to abandon their arrangements with the channel.
This is but part of a campaign by sections of the Left to silence individuals with whom they disagree. Left-wing activists have quashed debate on many university campuses. Now they are attempting to close down discussion in society at large — primarily by use of words such as racist and fascist as weapons.
Clearly Giles was ill-prepared last Sunday. Yet he easily could have been confused. In The Saturday Paper last weekend, former Fairfax Media columnist Mike Carlton wrote about “the arrant racism of the uncouth Benito Dutton, whose cynical attempts to inflame fear and loathing over the so-called Sudanese gangs in Melbourne (are) beneath contempt”. As recently as last Tuesday, ABC presenter John Barron declared on ABC Sydney Radio 702: “Whether Donald Trump knows it or not, somewhere lurking in that 70-plus-year-old white American man’s heart is a racist.”
This word usage leads to confusion in the public debate. If Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is a fascist (like Mussolini) and Trump is a racist (like, say, Joseph Goebbels) how is either much different from Cottrell? Except that neither has criminal convictions in addition to their (alleged) vile ideological stances. It’s not difficult to understand why someone such as Giles can get confused.
Former Labor Party minister Craig Emerson quit as a Sky News contributor following The Adam Giles Show disaster, claiming that Sky News was part of “the mainstreaming of racism and bigotry in our country”. Yet, on any objective test, Australia is an accepting and tolerant nation with a relatively low level of ethnic-motivated crime and a relatively high level of interracial marriage. If Sky News were into racism and bigotry, it would not have given hosting gigs to Giles and Warren Mundine.
Emerson’s stance is an over-reaction to a not-to-be-repeated error. It is worth recording that no one resigned from the ABC after it interviewed Cottrell in September 2016. Nor did Allan move to block ABC channels from being viewed in the Victorian parliament.