Three essays on the Cronulla riots 10 years on

Update 14 December 2015: the World Socialist Web Site weighs in with some detailed analysis of the court decision on the proposed Cronulla commemorative barbecue by the Party for Freedom. WSWS has also sent us a link to its 2006 analysis of the causes of the riots.

Update 12 December 2015: Get Up! has a survey on Australians and race relations.


Ten years on from the Cronulla riots of December 2005 there have been a number of analytical pieces put out. We have picked out just three, two of them by distinguished supporters of Honest History. Each essay is notable for the number of comments it attracted from a range of viewpoints.

Clare Wright wrote The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka but has a broader interest in rebellion and riots. Her piece in The Conversation ranges over incidents from Vinegar Hill in 1804 to Central Station in 1916 and Cronulla a decade ago and finds some ‘striking parallels’ between them as well as important differences. ‘Either way’, Wright concludes, ‘the lesson is that governments would do better to listen to the word on the street, and act with due diligence and a duty of care to all its citizens, rather than to resort to meaningless jingoism and finger-wagging’. There were 58 comments.

Andrew Jakubowicz, also in The Conversation, discusses whether anything has changed in the last decade, commencing with Anglo-Celtic and Muslim stereotypes immediately post-Cronulla and moving through recent history on to Reclaim Australia today. He says we still haven’t worked out how everyone can get a stake in the game. ‘Both the racist right and the jihadis see this failure as an opportunity for their agenda to progress. They need each other, but we don’t need either of them.’

Over at Guardian Australia, Paul Daley asks whether Australia as a whole has learnt lessons from events at Cronulla; Cronulla has.

Cronulla, after all, began 10 years ago with an exchange of heated words. Then came some punches. And a whole lot more words. And more violence that became a riot. Australia has learnt plenty since. But it has heeded too little. Perhaps there’ll never be another race riot in Cronulla. But what happened there a decade ago, many times multiplied, could easily occur elsewhere in Australia any time now.

Daley notes the importance of the Anzac motif in the Cronulla episode (also picked up in Honest History). There were 200 comments.

On the Honest History website, there is a link to another article by Jakubowicz on race riots in Australia, another piece by Daley on Cronulla and an SBS program, and one by Mick Armstrong on ‘progressive riots’.

11 December 2015


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