After the riots
There’s not much to say about the riots that hasn’t already been said, but one point that hasn’t been stressed enough is the small numbers of people actively involved. The crowd at Cronulla on Sunday was large, but it seems that only a couple of hundred were engaged in violence. Similarly, forty car loads of thugs were said to have been involved in the subsequent round of attacks on Monday night. That’s alarming but again it amounts to a couple of hundred people. The same was true in the French riots, which mainly consisted of small groups burning cars under cover of darkness. The availability of mobile phones makes organising this kind of thing a lot easier, and calls for a response. I hope that, in addition to those already charged, the police will pursue everyone involved in this shameful behavior. Many of them have been recorded on film and ought to be easy to identify.
Then there are the instigators of the violence. The senders of SMS messages will no doubt be hard to trace, but there’s no doubt about the role of talkback radio and 2GB in particular. It’s unclear whether Alan Jones or his talkback callers have committed a criminal offence, as suggested in comments here and elsewhere, but if he hasn’t, then the government’s spanking new sedition laws are clearly a dead letter.
The laws governing broadcasting are also relevant. Radio stations like 2GB get free allocations of valuable spectrum under a system of licensing which includes a prohibition on broadcasting matter that is likely to incite violence. If this system is to be maintained, 2GB should be stripped of its license by the Australian Broadcasting Authority for broadcasting people like Jones.