"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.
State parliament is recalled for today to deal with the "law and order" issues. Whether the changes are appropriate (P.Debnam thinks they don't go far enough) is something I can't comment on yet. I'll link to Hansard once it is available. Debate is currently winding up in the upper house - here's the link to the webcast. (Oops, it seems to have finished just as I was writing that.)
But will all the players in this dreadful episode be accounted for? There's the case of Allan Belford Jones, who is alleged to have repeatedly made comments on 2GB last week which appear to have breached the Racial Hatred Act 1995. (Here's the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's explanatory page relating to the Racial Hatred Act.)
And then there's "Australia First" who apparently exuberantly performed rent-a-crowd duties at Sunday's North Cronulla gathering. Make sure you hold your nose before you visit their website and note their pre-publicity for the "Cronulla Mass Mobilisation". There's a lot of disturbing reading there that we probably should all be aware of.
One of Australia First's more prominent members, Jim Saleam, ran for council in Marrickville's South Ward in the March 2004 local government elections. He received 41 votes.
Moving briefly onto overseas coverage, Germaine Greer has written a piece for The Guardian today which reminds us of some of the outstanding Australians of Lebanese heritage - the Governor of New South Wales, Marie Bashir; her husband, former Lord Mayor of Sydney and Australian rugby union legend Nick Shehadie; and current rugby league legend Hasem el-Masri of the Canterbury Bulldogs. She could have added Victorian premier Steve Bracks.
And the BBC World Service website has a moderated forum for discussion of the Sydney riots. Interesting to see what the punters around the world think of it all.