African community leader accuses Turnbull government of ‘hate, scaremongering’
An African community leader has accused Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull of spreading “hate” and stoking division over youth crime in Victoria.
As police vowed to catch a gang of up to 12 African youths who terrorised a woman in a “horrendous” home invasion and crime spree in Melbourne’s western suburbs last night, lawyer and spokesman for the South Sudanese community in Victoria, Kot Monoah said not enough was being done at a federal level to find solutions.
“We sympathise with victims,” Mr Monoah told Sky News
“We all came here for a better life and it is not the sort of life we envisaged our young children to pursue.”
However, he said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to weigh in on the subject of an African gang problem was “causing hatred.”
“We’d like to see a Prime Minister who is a Prime Minister for all and listen to us and find solutions.
“The Prime Minister is intervening politically, instead of intervening as a federal leader.”
He also accused Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton of “scaremongering the wider Australian public” with his remarks on Sydney radio this week that people in Melbourne were afraid to go out for dinner for fear of becoming a victim of crime.
“Yes, there are significant (number of youth) who are disengaged,” Mr Monoah said, stopping short of calling the problem “gang-related”.
“As a community, we are there day and night on the ground.
“We should call a spade a spade but ... instead of finding blame ... what solutions are we offering?”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday blamed Premier Daniel Andrews for “growing gang violence and lawlessness” in his state, triggering a war of words between federal and state leaders.
Mr Monoah suggested education and a lack of resources to integrate disengaged youth was behind the problem, saying migrant families from war-torn countries had “taken advantage” of Australia’s child protection laws for years “without taking responsibility”.
“The current youth crisis has been in the making for the last 14 years,” he said.
He also defended a Melbourne magistrate’s decision to grant bail to a 17-year-old boy who allegedly kicked a police officer in the head at a shopping centre on Boxing Day, saying magistrates in Victoria were “doing the best they can”.
“For me that was a gut-wrenching example.”
Acting Premier and Member for Werribee in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Tim Pallas, has called on Mr Dutton to apologise for his comments.
“I think the people of Werribee and the people of Wyndham deserve an apology from Mr Dutton. He’s gone too far just to make a political point,” Mr Pallas said yesterday.
He said the federal government was also to blame for the situation, for reducing allocations to migrant services including employment services.