A minor medical matter obliged a rare visit on Thursday to Melbourne’s CBD, otherwise known as Lord Mayor Robert Doyle’s sandpit and folly. Doyle (above), once state Opposition leader, formerly aspired to run all of Victoria. That he now presides over the Town Hall, still many levels above his competence, provides one of the few reasons, the very few, to rejoice that the former Labor regimes of Bracks and Brumby kept the Coalition out of power for so long. How useless is Doyle? Well, his former Spring Street colleagues deemed Ted Baillieu an improvement.
First, public parking was impossible to find, obliging the expenditure of some $60 for a little more than two hours’ stay in a multi-storey lot. That’s the way to get visitors into the CBD, Mr Mayor!
Second, the beggars. Opportuned three times for small change, The Professor began to think fondly of Mumbai, where it is entirely acceptable to give alms-seekers a good shove and a quick back-hander.
Third, there was a down-at-heel feel to what should be the bustling, vibrant centre of an otherwise wonderful megalopolis. Shops were empty, the footpaths thinly populated – so much so that the legions of ticket-writing Brown Bombers may well have represented the largest single employment category north of The Clocks.
After the medico had a good poke around, the Bunyipmobile’s escape from Doyleland was reduced to a crawl along Collins Street, now shrunk to a single lane by mega tram stops. This has happened because Doyle, like too many other Victorian Liberals, thinks public transport is morally uplifting.
Then the journey stopped altogether and stayed stopped for at least 40 minutes.
The Sons of the Prophet, all weird beards and tea cosies, had thrown down their prayer mats in Market Street to raise awareness of the Muslim Brotherhood’s plight in far off Egypt. Now it is true that Doyle cannot be blamed when the Seventh Century’s ambassadors feel the urge to tap foreheads on tram tracks, but he must be faulted for not preparing an appropriate response to spontaneous agglomerations of public nuisances.
A good mayor, a solid mayor, would long ago have invited an armed delegation of Cairo policemen to demonstrate for our local officers the best way to deal with those who impede traffic. When Muslim ratbags are shooting other Muslim ratbags they are less likely to be killing anyone else, so what’s not to like about that approach to traffic management? Instead, the Professor sat there, and sat there, and sat there some more, as did several thousand other Doyle-afflicted unfortunates, until the worshippers headed off to their Centrelink appointments.
Doyle should join them. If there is one man in Melbourne who deserves to be unemployed it is Robert Doyle.
UPDATE. From today's Australian:
Hundreds of Australian Egyptians gathered in Sydney earlier this week to protest against the killings in Egypt, and there were further, smaller protests in Melbourne and Sydney yesterday.
Australian Egyptians, some of whom declined to be named for fear of reprisals, yesterday told The Australian there were dozens of Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers in Australia, who receive political and financial support from the organisation overseas.
"They call them 'sleeping cells'. They don't tell you who they are. Once they get the message that they are requested to do something, then they become active," said one community leader, Victor Bassily.
The secretary of the Australian Egyptian Council Forum, Mr Bassily said the predominantly Christian local community should "stand as one" after recent violence in which several churches have been burned.
These attacks have allegedly been carried out by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, although the organisation publicly rejects the use of force.
Another Muslim, Australian, Egyptian community leader said there were dozens of Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers across the country, including what he also described as sleeper cells. "They are being paid by the Brotherhood within Egypt, they are being supported by them . . . They have divided the community over here. We have a lot of fights with them," said the man, who asked not to be named.
Security sources said the crisis in Egypt risked provoking tension within the local community, similar to that caused by the conflict in Syria, which has been linked to violence between Sydney's Sunni and Shia populations.
Another Australian Egyptian community leader, Mohammed Helal, yesterday said those who criticised the Muslim Brotherhood were "hateful to Muslims".
"I know a lot of people from the Muslim Brotherhood here in Australia, they are decent people, peaceful people," he said.
"There are offshoots from any community that are hateful . . . and these people are there, but the majority are peaceful."
A NSW police spokesman said "while (we) won't specifically identify individuals or groups who might be of interest to us, we do monitor . . . a range of groups".
"It must be remembered that we target criminals and not particular communities."