No Gangs in Melbourne’s Ivory Towers

African gangs rampage on Melbourne’s St Kilda beach. Picture: Channel 7

In an oft-misquoted incident, New York film critic Pauline Kael once said that she lived in a special world, she only knew one person who had voted for Nixon. Kael was poking fun at the insularity of America?s coastal liberal elites, the same elites who were stunned by Donald Trump?s victory in 2016. Yet, while civic leaders in the Australian state of Victoria share the same ivory-tower insularity Kael was lampooning, sadly, they completely lack anything approaching the same critical self-awareness.

Criminal violence from gangs of African migrants has been a simmering problem in Melbourne for years. This summer, it has exploded into a virtually-unchecked rampage. Car-jackings, robberies, assaults, home invasions, and riots are daily headlines. Residents in Melbourne?s western suburbs are literally having to defend their own homes with baseball bats. Others are packing up and moving interstate.

But as far as the state?s civic leaders and elites are concerned, there?s nothing to see. Politicians, police, judiciary and journalists steadfastly deny that there is anything out of the ordinary happening. Everything is just fine.

In fact, the situation in Melbourne is so calm that both Premier Daniel Andrews and Deputy Premier James Merlino, and Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton were on leave at the same time. As the crisis mounted, Andrews steadfastly refused to cut his holiday short. Instead, he tweeted about how great wind farms are.

Senior journalists at the state-owned ABC mocked the suggestion that there was anything amiss in Melbourne. Senior journalist Louise Milligan outdid Pauline Kael by declaring that she had, ?Never met anyone worried about ‘African’ gangs ? never heard anyone mention ‘African’ gangs in conversation. Not once.” Announcer and former ABC editor Jonathan Green openly jeered at news that players at a suburban tennis club had been threatened by armed African gangs.

Well, I’ve just got back from spending Christmas?back in Victoria, and everyone was talking about African gangs. Obviously I don’t move in the same rarified circles as Louise Milligan.

The brief ray of hope that some sense was being shocked into the Victoria Police command, after Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton finally admitted that there was a problem, has vanished like an African migrant?scarpering with someone?s brand-new mobile phone. With Top Cop Ashton back on the job, the boys in blue are back up to paddling up the river Denial.

There are no ?gangs?, only ?networked criminal offenders?.

But the Marie Antionette award for ivory-tower idiocy must surely belong to Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry. After Federal Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, said that people were scared to go out at night, Lasry tweeted that, why, he was dining out in the alpine resort town of Mansfield (most famous as the location for the film The Man from Snowy River?) and no-one there was worried.

I mean, Mansfield is a nice place. I spent my honeymoon there. It?s the sort of place where total strangers wave to you as they drive past. And it?s a long, long way from Melbourne.

Residents in Melbourne suburbs at the epicentre of the violence, like Tarneit and Taylors Hills, weren?t as breezy as His Honour, and with good reason. The very next night, a middle-aged woman was assaulted and held hostage as an African gang ransacked the house. Teenage boys were bashed and robbed in the street, and a family were forced to use baseball bats to fight off a gang trying to invade their home. Days earlier, a police officer was soccer-kicked in the head, in a suburban shopping centre (despite a string of priors, the offender was granted bail).

But, hey, the dining in Mansfield is just superb.