Sunday, January 14, 2007

Noble Park riots

Noble Park is 30 km south east of Melbourne’s CBD. It’s a rapidly urbanizing part of Melbourne with fairly cheap land and a high migrant population. During the 1980s it had one of the most notorious street gangs in Melbourne. Last Friday night it had a fully-fledged riot with a clearly criminal element supported by a mindless mob.

1500 drag racing morons and their brainless supporters (some with kids in prams) rioted, threw flares and rocks, at a hopelessly inadequate police response, and smashed up property including a video store. The rioters were proud of their achievements and put video clips of their rioting on YouTube – see here and particularly here.

Police, of course, were quick to use these clips to identify these bright sparks. 5 offenders were arrested at the site but hopefully a lot more arrests will come.

Some of the YouTube clips have been taken down by those who had posted them – but the police already have them. In addition the TV stations have their own video footage and the Herald Sun has run photos of the louts trashing the video store on their web page. This might help to catch them.

You can wail on about disadvantaged youth and so on but zero tolerance is called for here. The drag racers could kill themselves or – more significantly – innocent parties. And rioters who smash up shops and attack police are an aberration in Australia that is intolerable. Take back the streets.


conrad said...

Why mention immigrants here Harry? Most (not all) of these guys looked a lot like Anglo-Saxon white-trash to me. I think they are probably very representative of the mindless young male population.

I also don't see this is as a "new" or surprising thing. This is the type of mindless young male culture has existed as long as I can remember and every so often it just breaks out into something like this. The main question of interest is why Australia gets such a dose of it compared to other countries.

hc said...

Conrad, Because its a fact. Its a rapidly-changing community with lots of new settlement. This often drives these types of outcomes.

Check my writing and tell me if I ever suggested or implied that immigrants were involved in the riot. I didn't!

Mark Richardson said...

Conrad, it looked multi-ethnic which would fit the demographics of Noble Park.

I disagree that the riots are not surprising. In the space of a couple of weeks in Melbourne we had three riots in the southern suburbs: one at Noble Park, one at Keysborough and one at Rye.

This isn't typical. I think the police are going to have to be more proactive in dealing with such gatherings.

P.A. Coplay said...

While the hooning is dangerous and unpleasant if you are nearby (and should be policed), I was more concerned at the rioting with the property damage and and ongoing fighting with police. It is the rioting and the property damage which seems to be getting worse and which I hope gets cracked down on.

I was interested to see that unlike the other recent riot (which accompanied the G20 meeting) the police arrested people on the spot. I wonder if this is a change in strategy to more effectively police riots (whether political or associated with hoons). I hope so. The number of arrests from the G20 riots seems too low and if they only arrest a few at Noble Park it will be too low again.

I am very uncomfortable with referring to hoons as "white trash" (though I don't like their behavior). My guess is that most (if not all) of these guys will have regular useful jobs (possibly in trades) - how else do you get the hundreds of dollars (or more) to do up the cars?

I hope you would also refer to the thugs at the G20 similarly (many of these would not even be supporting themselves but being supported by their parents or govt. grants while engaged in studies of dubious value).

conrad said...

Harry: I think you are confusing low SES and immigrantion status. I can't think of any middle class immigrant neighborhoods with these sorts of problems, but I can think of oodles of largely non-immigrant neighborhoods with them. Thus what is driving the outcomes is being poor, not being an immigrant. In fact it is sure to be the case that most poor immigrant groups have lower crime rates than poor non-immigrant ones in Australia, since low SES white Australians have some of the highest crime rates on Earth (or at least OECD), which we can infer from the the big survey released last year.

p.a coplay: I use (and I don't think I'm alone) white-trash as a conglomerate term describing the characteristics/wealth of a person in relation to their ethnic group. Having hobies that are obnoxious and endanger the lives of other people, and then rioting when the police try and stop you qualifies for the use of this term, even if you happen not to been poor. Alternatively, there are lots of poor whites out there that don't qualify for this term, as they are decent people (at least in my books).

Mark Richardson said...

Conrad, poor whites are roughly in the middle when it comes to crime statistics. There are migrant groups with much higher crime rates (e.g. Lebanese, Vietnamese) but also some with lower rates (e.g. Chinese).

By world standards (and even by OECD standards) crime rates in Australia are low. There are only a few OECD countries with a lower murder rate than Australia, and there are some non OECD countries with much higher rates (e.g. South Africa).

I've lived in a number of Melbourne suburbs and never felt unsafe. I've appreciated the fact that our local working-class culture has held together pretty well up to now.

conrad said...


I'm not sure where you are getting your figures from, but the best I have is from a 1996 AICS paper (perhaps it became to politically contentious after that to report). In those figures whites were lower overall than the sterotyped high crime groups (like Romanians :), however, those numbers were not corrected for SES, and its pretty clear there is a huge difference between the native population in terms of SES status and the Lebanese.

Given that most crime is concentrated in lower SES groups, if I doubled the rate of the native born population (i.e., whites on average), then I would get a higher number than the Lebanese if I remember the stats correctly.

In any case, whatever the real numbers are, its pretty close, and English speaking Anglos are clearly on the high-crime rate side of the equation (of the highest crime OECD country). Thus saying that immigrants cause more crime than matched non-immigrants is generally not correct -- there are really only one or two groups that I can think of that might be in that category, and they aren't the Lebanese or Vietnamese.

conrad said...


sorry I forgot say, murder rates are not crime rates -- and I can't think of any OECD country that you wouldn't feel safe in if you happen to live in a decent neighborhood. I'm not sure where you are getting your numbers, but Australia is the highest of the OECD countries for almost every other type of crime according to the big survey out last year, which I seem to remember arguing about on this blog some time ago.

Yobbo said...

Read the comments on Youtube if you want to get an idea of the ethnicity of the rioters.

P.A. Coplay said...


Thank you for your comments. I am happy to call the rioters and the particularly dangerous hoons any nasty name under the sun.

I guess I was thinking more generally in terms of hoons as anyone who hots up a car and drives a bit fast - perhaps a little bit more often than the typical driver (hoons can be very skilled drivers - just they do more dangerous things) I guess I would also like the save the term trash for less worthy individuals. I am not sure I would like to call someone trash who is otherwise a productive member of society but engages sometime in anti-social behavior (it would make a pretty crowded gutter!) But this is just a statement about words and I agree the term is used more widely as you describe.

I guess there is also a bit of a chip here for a double standard by some (not necessarily one you are guilty of) for violence and anti-social behavior by students (which I feel has been under-prosecuted) and violence or other anti-social behavior by young working class (for want of a better term) men.


Anonymous said...

I would like to make one comment. As an enthusiast driver who has often spent hours at a time driving to appropriate venues to enjoy motorsport, these cretins should not even be labelled as "Hoons"

They are criminals at best. Unfortunately those who go along to watch are little better.


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