The real Australia

Real Australians from the award-winning Sentence Management Unit at Wolston Correctional Centre

Now that the issue of Haneef’s incarceration has been resolved, attention has turned inevitably to how the issue will affect Australians’ voting intentions.

I was struck by this remark by Rod Cameron on Lateline:

There are two classes in Australia, Virginia. The political class, so to speak, will be aghast at the brazen nature of the wedge that the Howard and his government tried to play on this one; they’ll be aghast at the mismanagement of it all. But the other — the real — Australia, they’ll have a very different take on it, and I don’t think John Howard will suffer very much from this debacle… the real Australia has a pretty hard-nosed view of all matters to do with terrorists, would-be terrorists, suspected terrorists, and they won’t mark the government down for taking every step to ensure that this guy wasn’t a terrorist.

Cameron’s putative debating partner Michael Kroger, obviously with a different agenda, opted to endorse this analysis enthusiastically. But can it be right?

Even supposing, for argument’s sake that the non-chattering classes don’t care about the finer points of principle and procedure, that indeed they are happy to be lied to from time to time as Frijters and Strocchi keep assuring us, is it true that they don’t object to someone being seized and then incarcerated for a month, from motives that are transparently a combination of political theatre and pure spite? We are not dealing with something complex and arcane like the AWB affair, nor a case that requires some understanding of international treaty obligations and the like, as with the Tampa affair. It’s a straightforward case of someone being locked up with no justification.

Let’s suppose, again for the sake of argument, that your stock standard, non-chattering, fourth-generation, caucasian, real Aussie doesn’t care if some character named Mohamed gets locked up — on the grounds that, even if he isn’t a terrorist, he probably sympathises with the terrorists. The point is that the electorate also includes a huge number of people who are called Mohammed, or have a Mohamed in the family, or come from South Asia, or even just have dark skin; and, even if these many Mohameds are residents or citizens, with the protections that go with that, they are bound to find it intimidating or unacceptable that people in their ethnic and cultural categories, or thereabouts, can be picked up and held in custody on a minesterial whim. And they vote, because it’s mandatory.

In any case, I don’t think our stereotypical Aussie is quite so indifferent to the fate of Haneef as Cameron and Kemp suppose. Haneef is a doctor. They’ve all been treated by Indian doctors, in most cases very competently (notwithstanding the odd exception like Jayant Patel), and realise that Indian doctors are intelligent, diligent, civilised people, who deserve respect and consideration. (the AMA President is worried about the reverse effect, that is, that other foreign doctors will be subject to suspicion on account the Haneef affair — which assumes that people trust the government — but it’s just as likely that Howard and Andrews will be treated with suspicion because people know and trust their Indian doctors, including in the country.

Yes, one or two of his second cousins seem to be terrorists, but most of us have a lot of second cousins and feel accountable for very few of them, and how many reasonable people would insist on seeing Martin Bryant’s second cousins locked up on the same basis as Haneef?

If the polls show a ‘Haneef blip’ for Howard, I’ll eat my hat. The only question is what the real Australia will make of Labor’s part in the affair.

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Yobbo
Yobbo
14 years ago

The point is that the electorate also includes a huge number of people who are called Mohammed, or have a Mohamed in the family, or come from South Asia, or even just have dark skin; and, even if these many Mohameds are residents or citizens, with the protections that go with that, they are bound to find it intimidating or unacceptable that people in their ethnic and cultural categories, or thereabouts, can be picked up and held in custody on a minesterial whim. And they vote, because its mandatory.

They vote Labor already.

The biggest problem for Howard is basically that the “Real Australia” is sick of him after 12 years.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

I think Cameron is half right.

I’m not sure whether he meant to suggest that the “political class” was broader than those actually involved in politics, but if we assume he did, I think you would find very different reactions among those who take an interest in public affairs and those who only take a minimal interest and get most of their political news from commercial tv and radio.

I’d argue that the level of reaction on the MSM “blogs” just shows that people who are interested in politics are exercised by this one. Some have suggested that it reflects public opinion, but it does so even more poorly than phone in and website “do you agree with?” so-called polls.

All the political science research shows that the voters who tend to swing elections in marginal seats are typically very disengaged from political debate.

But I’d enter three caveats:

(a) “Real Australia” is as divided as the “political class” – remember Latho’s ALP still ended up with 2pp margins in the mid to high 40s in may mortgage belt seats, and of course, won some. There’s never a conservative or right wing suburban vote in toto opposing a liberal or left wing inner urban vote. It’s very sloppy thinking to assume there is.

(b) I suspect that the issue has hurt the government but more because of the degree of incompetence on display, which will raise questions about their capacity to protect national security among voters who are not interested in civil liberties debates.

(c) Haneef did himself a big favour by appearing on Sixty Minutes.

Michael Paul
Michael Paul
14 years ago

The difference in this instance is that Haneef has been humanised. With the Tampa refugees, they were towel headed, queue jumping muslim terrorists”. AWB was simply using tough business tactics in a tough environment to protect the interests of Aussie farmers.

But with Haneef, you have an articulate gentleman displaying grace under considerable personal pressure without a nasty word for anyone really. Without some addditional, yet to be released information, who is the more credible, Haneef or Andrews?

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

And Yobbo is making a similar mistake by assuming that Labor has the Muslim or “ethnic” vote sewn up. In many instances, it doesn’t, and if anecdotal reports about how Andrews’ actions in particular have played with non-Anglo folks are correct, then the Libs may be doing themselves some electoral damage. Remember that elections, and the key electorates, are swung by very small shifts of the vote in close elections. Of course, if Labor are heading towards a big victory, none of this will impact, which is the point, I think, of Rudd’s approach to avoiding the wedge.

Yobbo
Yobbo
14 years ago

I’m not assuming anything Mark. I’m talking about electorates with high ethnic populations being rusted-on Labor electorates, and those with high WASP populations being much more likely to vote Liberal.

This was reversed a little in the last election due to the much-discussed “Howard’s Battlers” vs “Doctor’s Wives” debate, but it is still a very strong trend.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

I’d have a closer look at the stats, Yobbo – there are a number of those electorates which are quite marginal. And, in any case, if the Newspoll breakdown between marginal and safe seats which shows that the Coalition vote has dropped precipitously in its own redoubts is on to something, then you can tear up a lot of those assumptions.

Yobbo
Yobbo
14 years ago

Having a degree and convict ancestry doesn’t make people immune to “It’s time for a change”.

I’m sick of Howard myself, not that I think Rudd would be any better. A change of leadership might convince me to vote Liberal again, if the leader was someone I actually liked. Like Turnbull.

Yobbo
Yobbo
14 years ago

Otherwise, I could well be contesting the seat myself as a candidate for the LDP, just for shits and giggles.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

“The point is that the electorate also includes a huge number of people who are called Mohammed, or have a Mohamed in the family”

Really. There’s 280,000 Muslims in the country , 1% of the population. How do you stretch 1% out to be huge, James.

Graham
14 years ago

From the Galaxy poll the suggestion is that Cameron has it kind of wrong. The coalition has not picked up anything on the primary vote but Labor has dropped 2 points which go to the Greens and Indies – up 1 each. Which suggests that the Haneef joke hasn’t hurt Howard nearly as much as Rudd’s “dead bat” has hurt Labor. And I don’t think people will be impressed by the latest calls for an independent inquiry. It looks too much like acting tough when the bully has left the playground and we don’t like that. We think it’s weak and bullshit.

I think Cameron may be right about the two Australias, though. Listening to Virginia this morning there were people crawling over each other to offer up their little bit freedom for a little bit more safety, better safe than sorry, Bali victims don’t have their civil rights, wouldn’t have arrested him for nothing (the “no smoke without fire” presumed guilt gambit).

So while we, bloggers and bloggees, are pretty much appalled by the whole affair, Mr and Mrs “real Australia” are scared. And righteous with it.

Damien Eldridge
Damien Eldridge
14 years ago

James,

The the criminal charges and the the withdrawal of his visa should be trated as two separate issues.

It seems that the evidence underlying the criminal charges was flimsy at best and, indeed, the very idea that you could be charged with a criminal offernce because you gave a freind or relative an everyday item that was subsequently used in a terrorist act without your knowledge or approval is silly. Perhaps the law needs changing if it is this broad. Furthermore, it seems that the investigation was botched as well.

However, Haneef is not an Australian citizen. As such, he is not entitled to reside in Australia without a visa. Furthermore, it was discovcered that he is related to, and has associated with, suspected terroists. It is highly probable that this association is because hew is related to them and not because he supports terrorism. However, since he is not an Australian citizen, we are under no obligation to allopw him to either enter or remain in Australia. The cancellation of the visa does not seem unreasonable to me if there is so much as the slightest chance that he might be a potewntial terrorist. Is this harsh on Haneef? Yes. Is he most probably an unfortunate victim? Yes. But none the less, this may well be a case where the phrase “better safe than sorry” applies.

Yobbo
Yobbo
14 years ago

Damian is right, by the way. People are banned from Australia for much less things than having terrorist cousins.

1. Being an unmarried female from a poor country is asking to be rejected.

2. Arriving at the airport dressed poorly is a reason many european backpackers get sent home.

3. Not having enough money in your bank account to support yourself in a 5 star hotel for the duration of your stay is grounds for deportation.

Now usually you’re ok once you’re in, but that’s only because Immigration Officials don’t keep track of you on a daily basis.

Any backpacker who gets arrested and charged (even if he’s completely innocent) can expect to have his visa reviewed by immigration at that point.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

On Graham’s points, Galaxy may just be statistical noise, and talk back radio callers are a self-selected minority and not necessarily representative of anyone but the sort of people who call talkback.

TimT
14 years ago

2. Arriving at the airport dressed poorly is a reason many european backpackers get sent home.

Well, at least the ones that get in dress nice and snappy. “Welcome to Australia, please adhere to our dress code…”

No, seriously, I would have been shitting myself if I got turned back at the immigration stopover at JFK Airport, New York, in February this year. I was shit-scared all the way that I wouldn’t meet all the US entry requirements, so I’ve got a lot of sympathy for any backpackers or visitors who do get turned out for that reason.

Graham
14 years ago

Mark I agree with the possibilities youi suggest except that Virginia’s callers, and by extrapolation her audience, tend to be more middle of the road, more evenly distributed. That’s why I thought the Libs had probably briefed their phonesquad, on the one hand, and on the other that the general sentiment of the rest was further to the right than usual. But who’s to know. They can’t very well filter effectively for party affiliation.

Galaxy is consistent with other polls at 54/46.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

As we get closer to the election, Graham, I agree that judging anything on the basis of talkback callers (and I suspect also comments on MSM “blogs”) is going to be more risky because of the phonesquad phenomenon from the parties.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
14 years ago

In itself, the Haneef fiasco is a series of stuff-ups and misjudgments flowing from a set of unusual circumstances; which acquire meaning to the ‘political class’ because they fit into various narratives they already have running about the Howard goverment which don’t seem to be widely shared. And the ‘political class’ always get over-excited about the most recent bit of news, barely realising that they themselves will barely remember it in a few weeks time.

observa
observa
14 years ago

“Its a straightforward case of someone being locked up with no justification.”
I would have thought blind freddy could see that Haneef was a prime candidate to come under the gaze of the anti-terror laws. Ultimately that doesn’t mean that he could be proved guilty of aiding and abetting terrorists in a court of law and after the DPP decided that was the case he was released. So were these innocents by the way
http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/freed-guantanamo-inmates-take-up-arms/2007/07/27/1185339258055.html
What you need to understand, in case it’s escaped your attention, is that Muslim terrorists are blowing up innocent people on a daily basis around the globe and naturally infidel people, who can’t tell the good Muslim doctors that want to heal them, from the bad ones that want to blow them up, unsurprisingly don’t want anything to do with Muslims, period, after a while. It’s called survival instinct and it aint rocket science. Let me put it to you another way. Suppose oranges were nice and juicy and full of vitamin C and goodies just like they are, but every now and again people died eating one for no apparent reason. Do you think you’d still want oranges in your fruit bowl at home?

amphibious
amphibious
14 years ago

If anyone doubts the perversity & sheer chance of a scungily dressed backpacker being turned around at the airport, watch the tabloid TV sensation, Border Security – it’s SANITISED compared to what really goes on. Recall the conviction a couple of months ago of a couple of Customs officers who delighted in ‘picking’ asian girlies. So what else is new?

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
14 years ago

…which dont seem to be widely shared.

Presumably by ‘widely shared’ you mean shared by the majority, Andrew. The only poll I could find was here: http://www.theage.com.au/polls/form.html. I guess The Age readers all belong to the political classes, but 5000 seems to me a fair number of respondents.

Should Dr Mohamed Haneef be held in immigration detention?
Yes – 17%
No – 83%
Total Votes: 5045 Poll date: 16/07/07

What did you predict at the time of the Tampa, by the way, regarding its life-expectancy as an issue?

…if there is so much as the slightest chance that he might be a potential terrorist…

Damian, I’m glad you’re not pretending, like most of the government’s defenders, that Andrews must know something we don’t. However, it would be would be a waste of time asking you to define ‘slightest’. Let me instead ask you something more concrete: Do you think the Immigration Minister ought to deport any non-resident he becomes aware of who at some stage socialised with a person who later perpetrated a terrorist act?

Graham
14 years ago

btw…
I think the image caption (“Sentence Management Unit” etc.) above should not go unacknowledged.
I certainly think that they could be brought in on contract to clean up more than a few blogs. They could correct spellign, remove improper contractions eg, try to assiduously unsplit infinitives and deprecate periphrastic prolixities. And stop people beginning sentences with a conjunction. Or forming sentences without a verb. Just for starters.

Yobbo
Yobbo
14 years ago

Yep, the guys on Border Security are real pricks. And they are pretty representative of what actually happens.

They are instructed to be pricks, to make people lose their cool. Anyone who loses their cool is automatically out.

The one I watched last week had an exchange something like this.

Pommy Backpacker arrives at the airport:

Official: What do you plan on doing in your stay in Australia?
Excited Backpacker: Ah you know, catch up with a few mates, have a few beers, enjoy myself, try not to get locked up. Haha.
Official: You’ve been locked up before then?

Cue the 2 hour interrogation because of an attempted joke.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
14 years ago

I like that idea, Graham… as long you’re not hinting that I’m guilty of any of these misdemeanours myself. That said, I’d like to have the freedom to occasionally split infinitives. And sentences starting with conjunctions are acceptable in informal writing.

harry clarke
14 years ago

James

I agree with Observa and Damien. The ‘political class’ see a conspiracy around every corner. The more intelligent ‘real Australians’ see instead the Haneef issue as an attempt to deal with serious terrorism that involved mistakes – not an outcome that arose because there was indifference to the fate of people whose name begins with Mohammed – that is an utterly contemptible and arrogant slur in itself.

The political class have more than usually desplayed irresponsibility over the whole Haneef issue. This is the reason that the political class is never taken seriously by more than a few per cent of the population.

As Andrew Norton says the political class will forget all about it next week when they concoct their next scandal. Just group it together with Tamba, AWB, David Hicks and all the other half-truths that get trotted out when the ‘political class’ need to add a bit of colour to a statement of political preference.

James you pick the association issue alone ignoring the other so-called facts that were available at the time of charging and of visa refusal. That some of these were subsequently disproved means nothing as you must know. This is less than honest.

Real Australians will congratulate Kevin Rudd on his decency and willingness to put security concerns before making a few cheap political points.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

Real Australians will congratulate Kevin Rudd on his decency and willingness to put security concerns before making a few cheap political points.

You’d fit right in in the AWU, Harry. Perhaps you could ask Big Bill Ludwig for a membership form?

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

“The only poll I could find was here: http://www.theage.com.au/polls/form.html. I guess The Age readers all belong to the political classes, but 5000 seems to me a fair number of respondents.”

A cursory look at The Age letters would tell anyone that poll has as much chance ofbeing representative of the way Aussies feel as a poll taken in North Fitzroy. That would be like polling Blair readers on what they thought if the UK Bombers should have been hung on the spot.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
14 years ago

As Andrew Norton says the political class will forget all about it next week when they concoct their next scandal. Just group it together with Tamba, AWB, David Hicks…

Tampa, AWB and Hicks are examples of issue that were forgotten when the next fashionable cause came along? We are living on different planets, Harry.

James, you pick the association issue alone ignoring the other so-called facts that were available at the time of charging and of visa refusal. That some of these were subsequently disproved means nothing as you must know.

Damien was arguing that the ‘association issue’ alone was reason to cancel the visa. If it wasn’t, why wasn’t the visa reissued as soon as ‘the other so-called facts’ were ‘disproved’?

observa
observa
14 years ago

And James it was Muslim doctors who were responsible for 2 failed bombings against innocents and one partially successful one. If you can’t trust Muslim doctors, which Muslims can you trust? They were doctors. You know, Hypocratic oath and all that warm fuzzy, caring stuff. Not hard to see why Govts don’t want to take any chances on behalf of their constituents any longer.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

That’s “Hippocratic”, obs, and doctors no longer take any oaths.

Can I trust Muslim dentists? Or nurses? Or physios?

David Rubie
David Rubie
14 years ago

observa wrote:

If you cant trust Muslim doctors, which Muslims can you trust?

If you can’t trust good Christians like Timothy McVeigh, which Christians can you trust?

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

Tampa, AWB and Hicks are examples of issue that were forgotten when the next fashionable cause came along? We are living on different planets, Harry.

And to take only one of those, diverting 300 million dollars to Saddam Hussein’s regime in bribes hardly constitutes a concocted scandal.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

David

McVeigh was not a Christian as in practicing Christian. It would be good to show us evidence that he was a regular church goer or whatever it is that one would use to measure his “chistianity”. It’s anonsense.

He was an anti-government nutball. Not all that much differnt to Ted Kazcinski…. Not identical but not that much different either. They all come out of the same swamp.

Alphonse
Alphonse
14 years ago

I’m with Harry. Just deal with the mistakes to forestall political opinionating from filling the vacuum.

The local report is one good starting point.

In court Mr MacSporan said the Commonwealth DPP also wanted to correct mistakes made in an earlier court hearing when prosecutor Clive Porritt had asserted Dr Haneef had lived with terror suspects in the UK and his SIM card had been found in a burning Jeep connected to the failed bomb plots.
Two statements were made to the court that were in fact incorrect, said Mr MacSporan. The statements were made at an early stage in the investigation … the director has obtained an explanation from (Mr Porritt). He said Mr Porritt had no written statement of facts in front of him on the day and had made the comments inadvertently.

Political overtones aside, we need to know who orally briefed Mr Porritt, whether Mr Porritt conveyed the brief accurately, what the divergences were (if any) between the brief and what Mr Porritt told the court, and why there was no written brief. None of this is at all political. Misleading the court is serious enough in itself whether or not it’s about terrorism or the PM is desperate. And it’s not as if it’s been explained.

This will of course most concern those most concerned about terrorism, but it might even concern some who think the threat is mostly cynical hype.

David Rubie
David Rubie
14 years ago

JC wrote:

He was an anti-government nutball. Not all that much differnt to Ted Kazcinski. Not identical but not that much different either. They all come out of the same swamp.

JC, I was putting Observa’s outrageous racism in context, not disparaging christianity. I don’t see the difference in anti-government nutballs whatever their origin – some are swarthy and beardie and some are Gulf War vets hopped up on meth. It’s the insanity we need to be targeting, not race, so don’t be giving Observa half-arsed justification for his nonsense.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

David

Mcveigh was reported to have said he was an agnostic. From what i recall he refused to see any cleric before his execution.

This is what you wrote:

If you cant trust good Christians like Timothy McVeigh, which Christians can you trust?

This is untrue.

Should i therefore assume that all agnotics think like Mcveigh after having corrected your outrageous statement?

David Rubie
David Rubie
14 years ago

JC, I’ll correct my statement.

If you can’t trust white people like Timothy McVeigh, which white people can you trust?

If you can’t trust war veterans like Timothy McVeigh, which war veterans can you trust?

If you can’t trust lapsed Roman Catholics like Timothy McVeigh, which lapsed Roman Catholics can you trust?

If you can’t trust short haired people like Timothy McVeigh, which short haired people can you trust?

If you can’t trust people over 6 feet tall like Timothy McVeigh, which tall people can you trust?

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

“I dont see the difference in anti-government nutballs whatever their origin – some are swarthy and beardie and some are Gulf War vets hopped up on meth.”

However we do need to understand their origins and where they are coming from.

————————

Its the insanity we need to be targeting, not race, so dont be giving Observa half-arsed justification for his nonsense.

How do you propose to do that without using statisical sampling techniques etc.?

—————————————

Not all Muslims are terrorists who want to kill non believers. Some are.

Not all Swedes are terrorists who want to kill non blievers. Some are.

Which is the more outrageous comment?

Answer correctly and you may find why one group is considered slightly more at least than the other in this example.

The last question is how do you risk manage if you consider all of us to be equally risky?

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

If you cant trust white people like Timothy McVeigh, which white people can you trust?

Well you can to some degree because Mcveigh has turned out to be fairly exceptionally evil. However one can’t discount the possibility of risk. The FBI is correct to be alert to white Anti-government types.

————————–

If you cant trust war veterans like Timothy McVeigh, which war veterans can you trust?

See above

————————–

If you cant trust lapsed Roman Catholics like Timothy McVeigh, which lapsed Roman Catholics can you trust?

See above

————————–

If you cant trust short haired people like Timothy McVeigh, which short haired people can you trust?

See above
————————–

If you cant trust people over 6 feet tall like Timothy McVeigh, which tall people can you trust?

Even you should admit this one is pretty silly.

————————–

THe FBI is generally able to narrow down a serial killer to being white, between the age of 17-55 and often lives alone. How do you think they arrive at this conclusion?

Graham
14 years ago

Interesting to see that “the political class” is being used here pejoratively. Useful for the right wing to indulge in this. If you are interested in politics you are a leftwinger conspiracy-theorist nutter. Bit like being a “liberal” in Anerica. So the pressure is to be uninterested in poltics? Un-Australian and all that. Also encourages people not to look too clsely at what governments are getting up to, and away with, from time to time. And I thought the “political class” was just responsible, intelligent people who were interested in how their country and their world were being run.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

Interesting to see that the political class is being used here pejoratively. Useful for the right wing to indulge in this.

Rod Cameron is hardly right wing, but I assume you mean the commenters on this thread, Graham.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

THe FBI is generally able to narrow down a serial killer to being white, between the age of 17-55 and often lives alone.

Sheesh, Joe! I hope that profiling works better than that. There’d be millions of white men living alone in such a wide age span.

I think racial profiling is actually quite relevant to this discussion in the sense that in America it entails over policing and sometimes harrassment of a whole group of people – black males. To some degree it’s a self-reinforcing loop, as more black men are arrested than would be otherwise because they’re being heavily policed, leading the logic to suggest that black men have a greater propensity to commit offences, where the cycle starts again.

There are also obvious differences with terrorism – one being that it is far, far rarer than say, grand theft auto.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

I actually posit something different.

If I have Howard figured the last thing he would want on his plate at the moment would a domestic security issue. If something happens here between now and the election his risk could be binary. That is people may think that the governments failure to stop a terror act is about equal to the labor. In other words they have had all this time and they still couldn’t stop it so it would be best to go with Labor because at least we have a chance of getting out of Iraq quicker.
It may also go the other way to. Frankly i’m not sure which way it would swing. He isn’t a 50/50 politician.

That second last thing he wanted was someone reminding the electorate of Gitmo david as that did turn out to be a bag of bad apples for him.

I can’t see how anyone would think that Howard would consider holding this person as some sort of electoral positive. There was all the makings of a potentially bad ending for him and not much to gain.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

I don’t agree with that reasoning, but as I said early in the thread, I think this episode will have damaged many voters’ perceptions of the government’s competence in dealing with terrorism.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

I forgot the other bits and pieces that fits the profile, Mark.

Re the black American profiling. The Black crime rate is about 8:1 to whites. I couldn’t begin to pretend to know even one cause but that’s the number bandied about.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

Indeed it is, Joe, and 30% of black males aged between 15 and 35 are or have been in prison or on probation. But crime stats are a bad indicator as many crimes are unreported, and the actual stats are an artefact of the functioning of the criminal justice system – whether the stats are of arrests or convictions (and there’s a higher conviction rate for blacks and for males). I’m not suggesting that black males don’t commit more crimes than white males, but I am suggesting that (a) the rate is strongly correlated with economic position as well as race and (b) racial profiling ups the stats for black males, making them more of a target.

But probably we’re straying a bit off topic.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
14 years ago

Interesting to see that the political class is being used here pejoratively. Useful for the right wing to indulge in this.

Rod Cameron is hardly right wing, but I assume you mean the commenters on this thread, Graham.

That’s right, Cameron went to pains to make it clear he was making an observation, not a judgement. By contrast, all the commenters here are not only accepting the political class versus real Australians dichotomy, they’re following Kemp’s lead in equating ‘real Australian’ with authentic, decent, honest, unpretentious, no-nonsense, clear sighted, practical and, of course, correct. In the end it’s all one great tautology, as Andrew Norton’s blog subtitle tacitly acknowledges.

Mark Bahnisch
14 years ago

Agreed, James.

The first thought that popped into my head when I heard Cameron on Friday night was “what an offensive way of putting it for all of those of us who are unreal (surreal?) Australians”!

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

But who cares a toss what Cameron thinks. He’s pollster for crying out loud. He’s just the guy who collects the figs and does surveys. He’s like a back office clerk.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

and, no, no disrespect to office clerks ever intended.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

Well, I am a member of the political class, I suspect, in the way the term is being used here – I read this blog, after all.

And I think that, as far as anyone can tell for now, the whole thing looks like a complete cock-up which exposes institutional weakness if not incompetence and serious ministerial irresponsibility (in fact, irresponsibility and incompetence from top to bottom). I could be wrong, of course.

That said, using an Age website poll as representative is beyond farcical. Age readers have probably been over 75% Labor for Howard’s entire leadership. A poll of voting intentions on the Age website adds even less information than your usual website poll.

Just to emphasise the point, I am probably the only one of my non-Age reading friends who cares much at all about Haneef (actually, I can think of one other, so there are at least two of us). All my Age-reading friends were voting for Rudd anyway.