Simmering unrest in Sydney

Armed with new powers granted by an emergency session of the New South
Wales state parliament, police set up check points on a number of main roads in Sydney’s troubled southern suburbs.

A wave of arrests followed several incidents, including a Molotov
cocktail thrown at police, an elderly man attacked with a crowbar and an
officer injured in a brawl, according to Assistant Commissioner Dave Owens.

Shortly before 10.30pm, police were also called to a fast food outlet at Parramatta where 23 car loads of men in a car park were threatening patrons with baseball bats.

The Sydney arrests were made by a special task force set up after a mob of whites attacked people of Arab appearance at south Sydney’s Cronulla beach on Sunday, sparking days of retaliatory attacks.

Police used new powers granted by an emergency session of the New South
Wales parliament, after lawmakers were recalled from their summer
recess.

The legislation gives police powers to “lock down” suburbs, close pubs,
enforce alcohol bans and confiscate cars.

The overnight display of force came ahead of an expected major clampdown this weekend, when police will treble their numbers to up to 1,500 officers at troubled beaches and suburbs.

Reaction

Prime Minister John Howard, writing in Australia’s ‘Daily Telegraph’, said the violence was a result of people who had “no regard for the law” and those who had “no respect for their fellow Australians”.

“It is clear the best way to deal with the challenge is for everyone to calm down,” wrote Mr Howard, who has dismissed suggestions that Australia is a
racist society.

Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley claimed Australia was not a racist country but racist elements exist,.

He said he hoped young Sydney men would resist peer pressure and not become involved in any further rioting this weekend.