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June, 2019

DIY Sovereignty and the Cronulla Riots

In early December 2005, an SMS text started doing the rounds of Sutherland shire locals.

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It was an invitation.

“Aussies: This Sunday every f***ing Aussie in the shire, get down to North Cronulla to help support Leb and Wog bashing day. Bring your mates down and let’s show them that this is our beach and their never welcome back.”

This coincided with broadcasts by popular Sydney radio announcer Alan Jones, who reminded listeners of his role in raising consciousness triggering the event: “I’m the person that’s led this charge here. Nobody wanted to know about North Cronulla, now it’s gathered to this.”

Was there any reference to race in Jones’ broadcasts? “We don’t have Anglo-Saxon kids out there raping women in western Sydney,” he said. What about vigilantism? When a caller named John suggested, “If the police can’t do the job, the next tier is us”, Jones’ response was: “Yeah, good on you John.”

The cultural festival of sorts took place on 11 December 2005. A few thousand people turned up for a barbecue and a few beers. OK, more than a few beers. Some attendees covered themselves with the Australian flag. The air was filled with a passionate chorus of “We grew here, you flew here.”

Not all locals could attend. In her 2007 article ‘Cruising : ‘moral panic’ and the Cronulla riot’, July Lattas wrote about a group of Cronulla youths who were away on a schoolies cruise when they heard about the event. They said that as their cruise sailed back to Sydney under the Harbour Bridge, “pumped-up young Shire people [struck] up a chant of ‘White Pride!’ and ‘Shi-ire!’”

The riot was apparently in response to some young Lebanese boys misbehaving toward lifesavers and making lewd and racist remarks at young women on the beach. We’re also led to believe that this behaviour is part of a broader problem with Lebanese/Muslims not integrating, becoming radicalised, etc.

Yet surely a drunken race riot is not the most temperate response to a few boys misbehaving. If Cronulla and subsequent rallies by Reclaim Australia held every few months are anything to go by, the non-Lebanese and non-Muslim communities are equally capable of exhibiting violent extremism in word and deed. And drunken race riots weren’t part of the values I learned at pre-school, kindergarten, infants, primary and secondary school in Sydney.

Then again, smashing shop windows and randomly attacking people (as happened during reprisal attacks) aren’t exactly part of the core values of Australia or Lebanon for that matter. Lebanon is one of the Middle East’s most cosmopolitan nations, where people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds live in peace.

The Cronulla rioters saw the beach as almost their sovereign territory, and wanted to exclude outsiders, especially Lebanese and Muslims. As Dr Amelia Johns puts it in her recently published book ‘Battle for the Flag’, the Cronulla riots were an act of “DIY Sovereignty”.

We can’t build enduring Australian patriotism by imagining we live in small sovereign spaces where only “our” kind are welcome. Australia is what it is – multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional. So what if I grew here while you flew or sailed here. As our national anthem reminds us: “For those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share”.​

Irfan Yusuf is a lawyer and author working on a PhD on counter terrorism at Deakin University.

Watch SBS’s award-winning documentary ‘Cronulla Riots: The Day That Shocked the Nation’ on SBS2 Thursday 9.30pm. Ten years on, is Australia more tolerant? Take our poll.

Qld syphilis outbreak prompts warning

Increasing syphilis rates in north Queensland have prompted public health groups to urge young people to get tested and practise safe sex.

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The Townsville Hospital and Health Service recorded 33 cases of the sexually transmitted infection before September this year, including one that was transferred to an unborn baby from its mother.

Townsville Public Health Unit (TPHU) director Dr Steven Donohue says the number of cases, which grew from 25 in the same period last year, was concerning.

He said an untreated case could have serious consequences, including a higher risk of HIV infection.

“Syphilis is highly infectious and often has no symptoms,” he said.

“It usually needs a blood test to detect.”

The infection of unborn babies from their mothers – known as congenital syphilis – can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.

The Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service (TAIHS) says gay and bisexual men and young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are most at risk of getting the infection.

But he said it can be avoided through the proper use of condoms.

“We are urging sexually active young people to come to their local health services,” senior medical officer Dr Theunis Kotzee said.

The health warning comes almost a month after the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) warned of the worst syphilis outbreak seen in Australia’s northern indigenous communities in 30 years.

They say 500 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island Queenslanders have been infected since 2010.

Indigenous people living in remote northern areas were 300 times more likely to be affected than other Australians, they said.

Australia needs to ‘re-double’ efforts to avoid Paris-style attacks: Keenan

Australia and Southeast Asia must re-double efforts to share intelligence and make sure Paris-style terror attacks can’t be replicated in the region, Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan said on Wednesday.

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Hundreds of Indonesian Islamic State sympathisers and some Malaysians and Singaporeans are believed to have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq. Southeast Asia faces the risk of attack when they return, Malaysia has said.

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“The fact that the national security situation has significantly deteriorated for all of the countries in the region, including Australia, means we need to re-double those efforts,” Keenan, who is also Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism, told Reuters in an interview in Singapore.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deaths of 130 people in attacks in Paris last month, the deadliest in France since World War Two.

Keenan also denounced comments by US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States following last week’s massacre in San Bernardino, California, by a Muslim couple.

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“That is entirely the wrong response,” Keenan said.

“When we look at Southeast Asia, we get a good example that we are not somehow at war with a particular religion. And neither do we need to target Muslim Australians or anywhere else in the world.”

Australia next week marks the anniversary of a siege in central Sydney in which a gunman with radical Islamist sympathies took over a central city cafe.

Two hostages and the gunman were killed when police stormed the building.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Fathin Ungku in SINGAPORE; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Pattinson our ‘X-factor’: Smith

He hasn’t played Test cricket in almost two years.

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Injury has enforced a re-modelled bowling action.

But fiery comeback quick James Pattinson has still been branded Australia’s X-factor by captain Steve Smith for the first Test clash with the West Indies in Hobart.

In his first Test since March 2014, Pattinson has been asked to fill the big shoes left by strike weapon Mitchell Starc (ankle) for the three-game series opener starting on Thursday.

Smith backed the injury-plagued Pattinson to spark a new-look Australian attack also reeling from Mitchell Johnson’s retirement as he eyed off a series whitewash.

“He bowls at 150kph when he has got everything together – he brings that X-factor to the team,” Smith said of the 25-year-old.

“He’s got a lot of aggression.

“He is not afraid to show that which I think is a great attribution.

“Hopefully he can have a successful comeback into the Test team.”

Pattinson is known for having one of the worst cases of “white line fever” in the Australian team.

His berserker quality was evident on Test debut back in late 2011.

He cut loose against an unsuspecting New Zealand at the Gabba to at one stage claim three wickets in four balls on his way to figures of 5-27 – still a Test career-best.

It has been 21 months since his last baggy green sighting in a stirring series-clinching third Test victory against South Africa at Cape Town that ended Proteas captain Graeme Smith’s career in frustration.

Since then, Pattinson has suffered a recurrence of back stress fractures and a hamstring injury.

It ensured he had to remodel the action that had claimed 51 wickets at 27.07 in his 13 Tests to date.

Smith is confident Pattinson is ready to again lead the Australian attack.

“He has played enough. He deserves an opportunity,” he said.

“I think he just needs to go out there and do what he does well – that’s bowl fast, swing the ball and get it up there, get it moving.

“I think he is pretty similar in the way Joshy Hazlewood bowls.

“Hopefully those two can lead our attack really well.”

Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh had hinted that Hazlewood would be given a break this summer.

And the Hobart clash appeared the most likely considering the short turnaround between the Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests.

But Hazlewood received the nod for the three-Test series opener at Bellerive, relegating WA bolter Nathan Coulter-Nile to 12th man duties.

Smith said the batting order would remain the same despite speculation that wicketkeeper Peter Nevill would replace allrounder Mitch Marsh at No.6.

Australia are overwhelming favourites to thrash a Windies side that has not won an overseas Test series of note in 20 years.

“We want to win this series 3-0,” Smith warned.

Maddinson stars in NSW Shield victory

A final-day captain’s innings from Nic Maddinson set up New South Wales for an unlikely victory against Queensland in the Sheffield Shield clash in Mackay.

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A match that was a dour affair for the first three days provided a thrilling finish after Queensland’s attacking declaration gave the Blues a chance of winning, which they grabbed, getting home with three wickets to spare.

With the light closing in and men camped around the bat, Steve O’Keefe and Gurinder Sandhu shared a crucial 15-run partnership with the latter hitting consecutive boundaries to take them over the line.

The result seemed unlikely when Maddinson arrived at the crease at 2-59 and NSW requiring a further 155 runs to win.

In a match where most batting strike rates were well under 50, the Blues skipper’s 80 came from 72 balls including seven fours and three sixes.

“I don’t think it’s one of my best innings, but it might be one of my most important,” Maddinson said.

“I hadn’t been in a position before where I’ve had to play a big fourth-innings knock to help win a game, so that was good.

“My goal as long as I play is to represent Australia. I was disappointed with the way I started this season so I’m very happy to get runs today.”

The stylish left-hander fell leg before wicket to debutant Mitch Swepson (3-69) with his side still needing 23 runs, a task made harder when Ben Rohrer (31), who had helped put on 61 for the fourth wicket, was caught and bowled by Jason Floros (4-71) without adding to the score.

Sean Abbott (3) was then trapped lbw – becoming Floros’ fourth victim of the innings – and Ryan Carters fell to Swepson, caught by Sam Heazlett at short leg, to set up the tense finish.

Maddinson admitted the result wouldn’t have been possible without the bold declaration from opposite number Chris Hartley.

The declaration came just after lunch when the Bulls were 7-131 in their second innings.

Earlier, Doug Bollinger (2-29) and Sean Abbott (2-26) cut through the Queensland top-order batting line-up to bring their side back into the game.