It's that time of year again. All the news agencies are starting to roll out their best-ofs for 2005, and I have a chuckle this morning as U3 (Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Bono) are named Time Magazine's People of the Year.
As usual, the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority is giving plenty of advance notice of traffic alterations for streets leading to the SCG for the New Years' Test.
The ICC's appalling and arbitrary decision to designate October's "supertest" at the SCG an official Test match has led, today, to another premature "breaking" of a world record.
"What we've seen in the last 72 hours are more urban terrorists terrorising the community"
- Peter Debnam, New South Wales Leader of the Opposition, 15.12.05
Pete, in the words of another passionate Australian xenophobe: Please explain?
Pollies aside, the community is getting on with the job of resolving the underlying causes of Sunday and Monday's riots. The Lebanese community - Muslim and Christian - have offered curfews this weekend as a means of helping defuse things this weekend. The Sutherland Shire Council's website has a sequence of media releases online outlining their course of action.
There can be no doubt that racial hatred is a major element in this week's riots in and around Cronulla. Is Australia an inherently racist society? No - we've come a long long way since the massacre of Aborigines and the proliferation of the White Australia Policy. But there's still a hard core of rednecks in this country who believe that their brand of Australian nationalism - an unwritten White Australia Policy if you will - is the right one. Pauline Hanson, curiously enough, lives at Sylvania Waters, a few kilometres up the George's River from Cronulla.
There's a concept that has been much discussed this week that I'm having a bit of trouble with. "Middle Eastern appearance."
What does a Middle Eastern gentleman look like?
Is he Pakistani? Is he Afghani? Is he Iranian? Is he Iraqi? Is he Kurdish? Is he Yemeni? Is he Omani? Is he Qatari? Is he Kuwaiti? Is he Turkish? Is he Syrian? Is he Lebanese? Is he Jordanian? Is he Palestinian? Is he Israeli? Is he Saudi Arabian? Is he Egyptian? Is he Libyan? Maybe he looks like a Brazilian walking to catch his train.
It's 11pm Tuesday night and all seems quiet in southern Sydney so far this evening. NSW parliament is going to be recalled on Thursday to pass legislation to give police greater emergency powers. Tonight they have roadblocked the Cronulla area, and apparently only residents are being let in. I have vivid memories of the Newcastle CBD being similarly sealed off in the opening days of 1990 following the earthquake, but when (if ever) was the last time a locality of this magnitude in this country was shut down by police for reasons other than natural disaster or Olympiad?
ELLEN FANNING: Prime Minister, part of what was chilling yesterday was seeing a lot of people in between the violence doing things that you'd see at the cricket, singing "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi", wrapping themselves in the Australian flag. What do you say to people who use the Australian flag in that way?
PRIME MINISTER: Look, I would never condemn people for being proud of the Australian flag. I don't care – I would never condemn people for being proud…