The Guardian August 29, 2001


Racist beat-up in NSW.
Carr's law and order scare tactic

by Marcus Browning

"Evil delight  Father reveals rape taunts", "United outrage at lenient 
sentences", "Pressure to change the law", "Outrage as gang rapists get cut-
down jail terms". So ran the headlines after the sentencing of three youths 
"of Middle Eastern background" (in fact from the Lebanese community) in the 
NSW District Court for rape last week. The Carr Government is being given a 
free ride by the mass media as it ties racism and a law and order beat-up 
together, appealing to base, simplistic and divisive ideas that will cause 
profound social damage into the future.

The Carr agenda itself is as crude as a blunt instrument. Bob Carr and his 
right wing government are using a populist platform to demonise communities 
along racial lines in order to create the pretext for introducing draconian 
laws and for handing more powers to the police.

In Cabramatta, in Sydney's south, it is "Asian gangs" and illegal drugs. 
The Government preyed on people's fears and exploited the very real 
problems that exist in the area to introduce laws which overturn the 
presumption of innocence and give police the power to invade homes and make 
arrests based on "reasonable suspicion".

Carr's refusal to cease using the term "ethnic gangs" instead of 
attributing the primary cause of criminal behaviour as being a product of 
Australian society as a whole, is in line with his government's its racist 
campaign. It is why Unity Party MP Peter Wong has compared Carr to Pauline 
Hanson and One Nation.

"He is going down the same path of targeting the ethnic community as those 
more likely to commit crime and more likely not to contribute towards this 
country", said Dr Wong. "He has created a wave of mutual hatred which has 
never been seen in NSW before."

Hanson climbed aboard the Carr bandwagon last week, saying, "A lot of these 
people are Muslims, they have no respect for the Christian way of life that 
this country's based on."

Ethnic community leaders have condemned the Government's actions. Ethnic 
Communities Council chairman Salvatore Scevola pointed to the social and 
economic base which are the cause of crime: "We believe there is no 
relationship between ethnicity and crime. It has more to do with 
social/economic conditions; social disadvantage, social exclusion and 
unemployment."

The backlash is already underway with the Council receiving many racist 
phone calls. 

April Pham from the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association described Carr's 
portrayal of particular groups as "sensationalist, unethical and racist", 
saying it was being used "to mask the incompetency of the Carr Government 
in responding to the needs of disenfranchised groups in the community, the 
high level of unemployment amongst young people, the amount of drugs and 

Ms Pham said that Carr was hiding behind parliamentary privilege to avoid 
being challenged for inciting racial hatred.

Carr and Police Commissioner Peter Ryan, who kicked off the "ethic crime 
wave" propaganda more than a year ago, together added fuel to the fire by 
referring to "rapes of Caucasian women by Lebanese youth from Bankstown". 
Ryan told the media that 50 women had been gang raped in the area during 
the last 11 months.

But NSW crime statistics show that there had been 10 sexual assaults 
involving two or more people in Bankstown last year and that the offender 
rate in the area was lower than a number of others around the State.

The Institute of Criminology's Mark Findlay accused Carr of fear-mongering 
in the community for political reasons and noted that "the facts got less 
and less supportive of Ryan's position [of 50 women raped] and more and 
more ambiguous the closer you got to the ground".

In a comment to The Guardian Peter Symon, CPA General Secretary, 
"said that "Bob Carr is stirring up ethnic and racial intolerance to win 
votes. He has always used the 'law and order' card whenever an election is 
coming up.

"His proposal to legislate penalties and to pressure the judiciary is 
getting very close to mandatory sentencing. Of course he will deny that his 
attitudes are based on race but irrespective of intentions his remarks are 
stirring up racial tensions in the community.

"Racially-based remarks should be strongly rejected. We have 
multiculturalism as an established policy and that is what Bob Carr should 
be promoting."

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