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Criminal Gangs in Victoria

About this pamphlet Matthew Guy.

I know you’re saying it isn’t specifically targeting “African gangs”, in fact it isn’t even a photo of Melbourne. It’s from a story published in 2012 about gangs in London. The problem with your pamphlet isn’t just that it contradicts data from the state’s Crime Statistics Agency which show crime in Victoria has decreased by nearly 9% in the last year, it’s about context.

You put this pamphlet out the day after Chanel 7’s sensationalist “report” on African gangs. You stood proudly next to the Prime Minister as he said there was a problem with Sudanese gangs knowing that Sudanese people account for only 1% of crimes. In January you warned that Melbourne could soon become “the Johannesburg of the South Pacific”.

My point is that people will draw their own conclusions based on context. Let me give you an example:

Last year it was revealed you attended a $2000-a-head fundraising function at the Lobster Cave restaurant with the alleged head of Melbourne's Mafia, Tony Madafferi.

In a recent affidavit filed in court to support Tony Madafferi's ban from Crown Casino and all Victorian racetracks, police said they held “substantial intelligence" indicating Madafferi had "substantial and close involvement with serious criminal conduct including drug importation, murder and extortion", and was "a known associate of prominent criminal entities and persons who have a history of significant criminal conduct that includes money laundering and drug trafficking".

Now putting that in context:

You claimed you didn’t know Mr Madafferi was going to be at the restaurant. Then it was revealed your office had been informed that he would be one of the guests. Some people might draw the conclusion you were being a bit economical with the truth.

You claimed there were around 25 people at the function. Then it was revealed there were only seven people there. Some people might draw the conclusion you were being a lot economical with the truth.

You said that you didn’t know who Mr Madafferi was. Then it turned out you’d been a guest of honour at a function he’d held in 2013 when you were Victorian planning minister. Some people might draw the conclusion you were lying through your teeth.

Here’s a bit more context:

Also present at that function was Joseph Acquaro who, along with Madafferi, was a regular attendee at Liberal party fundraisers. Acquaro was Madafferi’s lawyer from 2000 until he was gunned down outside his East Brunswick gelato bar in 2016. Police named Tony Madafferi as their prime suspect.

In 2005, Acquaro fought against the deportation of Madafferi's brother, Francesco, over alleged mafia links. Liberal immigration minister Amanda Vanstone allowed Francesco to remain in the country and granted him a visa "on humanitarian grounds." Acquaro denied at the time that the Madafferis’ donations to the Liberal Party ($15,000 in 2004 and a further $7500 in 2006) had any influence on Vanstone's decision.

The visa case was investigated by federal police. While the investigation was eventually closed due to lack of cooperation and insufficient evidence, police warned that Australia's donations system was exposed to corruption.

In 2008, Francesco Madafferi was arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle 15 million ecstasy pills into Australia in tomato tins, the largest ecstasy bust in the world. Francesco was released however, and two other men were charged, both represented by Acquaro's law firm.

The Australian Crime Commission named Joseph Acquaro as one of Victoria's top ten organised crime figures. He is also suspected of being involved in the murder of Carl Williams.

Based on that context Matthew, some people might draw the conclusion you are, at best, grossly lacking in judgement and, at worst, a dishonest hypocrite who panders to racism, cosies up to organised crime and can’t be trusted with the Premiership of Victoria any farther than you can spit a lobster.

Just sayin’.

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