CANBERRA, The Police Minister from the Australian state of Victoria slammed on Thursday as "embarrassing" comments from the federal Home Affairs Minister that "African gangs" were running riot across Melbourne.
On Wednesday, Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton lashed out at the Victorian state government's relaxed attitude toward a growing problem with "African gangs," claiming that local residents were scared to leave their houses because of the threat of "violence."
In recent weeks, concerns have been raised about the rise in prominence of gang violence perpetrated mostly by those of an African appearance, leading some to comment that the Victorian Labor government was not doing enough to punish and deter offenders from committing crimes as part of a "gang."
But in response to the federal minister's claims that locals were scared to eat at restaurants, Victoria's Police Minister Lisa Neville said there was "no evidence" to back up Dutton's "embarrassing comments."
"That's a ridiculous comment, it's politics at its absolute worst," Neville told Macquarie radio on Thursday.
"I eat out quite a lot in Geelong and in Melbourne and people are still eating at restaurants."
The Police Minister admitted that there were some "issues" within some suburban areas, but police were "addressing" the problem swiftly. She said it was inappropriate for a federal minister to comment on an issue he knows little about.
"Do we have issues in some communities? Yes. Are police addressing it? Absolutely. Are they going to get on top of it? Completely," Neville said.
"At this moment, we have a large number of offenders in custody and they are serving time right now. So police are doing the work they need to do to get on top of this."
On Wednesday, Dutton - part of the federal Liberal coalition government - described sentences handed down to offenders of African appearance as "a joke." declaring that the state Labor government was trying to toe a "politically-correct" line.
"The state government has wrapped its police force up in this politically correct conversation ... but I think the state government's really been caught flat-footed," he said.
State Liberal MP John Pesutto said while Dutton's words were very strong, there was "clearly anxiety about the prospect of violence" in some of Melbourne's suburbs.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK