Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has stepped up his attacks on the Victorian government, stressing he does not want to see a “small element” of the African community tarnish the reputation of others.
Mr Dutton again pointed to a “problem with some of the judges and magistrates that Daniel Andrews has appointed” and criticised people for denying the existence of gang-related violence.
Andrews takes on Dutton
On his first day back from holidays, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has slammed Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s comments on ‘African gang’ violence in Melbourne.
“It’s a complete nonsense and the fact is that there are many victims in Victoria who have suffered at the hands of these gangs and we need to call it out because I’m not, like any Australian, wanting to see a very small element of a community – in this case the African community – define the rest of the community, which is law abiding, engaged in society, working, employed, studying, whatever it might be,” Mr Dutton told Adelaide radio station FIVEaa.
“The law applies equally to any Australian – to any Victorian in this case – so Mr Andrews has, I think, a lot of deep thinking to do, to firstly apologise to the people of Victoria for the mistakes that he’s made which has led to the resulting violence that has taken place.”
On Wednesday, Victoria Police commissioner Graham Ashton rubbished suggestions of an “African gang crisis”, insisting Australia’s second most populous state was safe and dismissing the suggestion that people were not comfortable to go out for dinner.
Mr Andrews hit back at Mr Dutton on Thursday, inviting the Queensland-based minister to have dinner in Victoria himself.
“I think Mr Dutton’s comments were designed to get a rise out of people. They were designed to be as controversial as possible,” Mr Andrews said.
Fairfax Media-ReachTEL polling conducted last week detected unease in suburbs affected by recent high-profile incidents.
Some 62.1 per cent of respondents in Tarneit said they were less likely to go out at night than a year ago because of the threat of gang violence, and 55.2 per cent of respondents in Cranbourne agreed.
On Thursday, Mr Dutton said the poll highlighted what he had been taking about and accused Mr Andrews of living in a “parallel universe”.
Concerns have also been raised that African-Australians felt stereotyped and targeted as a result of the recent debate.
Kot Monoah, the chairman of the South Sudanese Community Association in Victoria, said a basketball coach of African descent was racially abused in Werribee on Tuesday.
While people of Sudanese backgrounds are over-represented in crime statistics, Victoria’s youth crime rates have been declining for a decade and the last quarter of 2017 saw a drop in overall crime.