It might well have been because of the lapse in time since we were first galvanised, it might well illustrate our disillusionment with what we’ve seen or heard since, but Thursday night’s public meeting in Tamworth about crime and law and order, wasn’t a sellout success by any count.
In fact, it was a lesson in community engagement, in what politicians need to understand, but also shows just where our society is in its expectations, its understanding of the law process, in its refusal to accept platitudes and paltry politicking.
The frustrations of some in the crowd – many of them elderly, most of them concerned enough to want to be persuaded that things might get better, all of them interested in hearing that plans are in place to do something to attack the battleground that is the level of lawlessness we see or hear about, were evident.
Attorney-General Greg Smith needed a better grasp of what this regional city wanted to hear from him; he came, let us say kindly, underprepared. The city wanted to hear something different. Certainly it was not the obfuscating litany of government action to solve western Sydney organised crime.
That was an indictment of his misunderstanding or his disregard for these voters.
What Mr Smith needed to do was show he had some appreciation of what Tamworth is upset about, and what it wants reassurances about. We don’t want some strange feudal laws, we don’t expect preferential treatment. We are definitely not isolated when it comes to the societal and generational behavior and misbehavior we see all around us.
Many wanted to hear why some people, arrested and charged, are allowed bail, a freedom that many see as a licence to offend again. They wanted to know why police can’t get the crooks – or when they do, why they sometimes can’t keep them. They wanted to know just how bail laws work and why. They needed to know that magistrates dispense the law according to the
law – not some ambiguous or arbitrary interpretation that is their own. Simply, don’t shoot the magistrates. Take aim at the law-makers if you want changes.
A $50,000 handout won’t appease anyone. Mind you we won’t knock it back. Maybe we can use it for some CCTV cameras, or part payment towards another experienced copper to add more grunt to our force on the ground.