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Home News Bachelor Locky Gilbert’s racist post was a window into Australia before the Cronulla riots

Bachelor Locky Gilbert’s racist post was a window into Australia before the Cronulla riots

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Bachelor Locky Gilbert’s racist post was a window into Australia before the Cronulla riots

The Bachelor’s racist post exposes more than teen ignorance. They revisit a nation on the edge – seething with ‘Aussie’ patriotism, Southern Cross tatts and seeming to climax with the Cronulla riots – but did it REALLY?

  • The Bachelor’s Locky Gilbert has apologised for ‘racist’ 2004 social media post
  • He posted an image of a map of Australia with the words ‘F*** OFF WE’RE FULL’
  • Radio host Kyle Sandilands defended Gilbert, saying he was only 16 at the time
  • Gilbert’s post came just a year before the Cronulla race riots erupted in Sydney   

The teenage musings of The Bachelor‘s Locky Gilbert that Australia was ‘full’ and immigrants should ‘f*** off’ might have shocked some of his fans who don’t remember the times. 

The anti-refugee sentiments Gilbert expressed in a social media post were widely held in 2004, as was the idea there was no room for newcomers in one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.

His post came just a year before racial tensions erupted in the violent confrontations between young white and Middle Eastern-descended combatants that became known as the Cronulla riots.

Gilbert felt he needed to apologise after a MySpace image he posted as a 16-year-old Perth high school student was published by Daily Mail Australia on Thursday.

The teenage musings of The Bachelor’s Locky Gilbert (pictured) that Australia was ‘full’ and immigrants should ‘f*** off’ may have shocked some of his fans but he was not alone in those views at the time

Gilbert's MySpace meme also included the Southern Cross and the words 'Aussie Pride', both of which have come to be associated with right-wing nationalism since the Cronulla riots

Gilbert’s MySpace meme also included the Southern Cross and the words ‘Aussie Pride’, both of which have come to be associated with right-wing nationalism since the Cronulla riots

Gilbert's post came just a year before racial tensions erupted in the violent confrontations between young white and Middle Eastern combatants that became known as the Cronulla riots (pictured)

Gilbert’s post came just a year before racial tensions erupted in the violent confrontations between young white and Middle Eastern combatants that became known as the Cronulla riots (pictured)

The image showed a map of Australia with the words ‘F*** off we’re full’ but Gilbert did not come up with the imagery or the slogan. 

‘F**k off we’re full’ on a map of Australia could be seen on T-shirts and stickers across the country in 2004 and is still around now. 

The MySpace meme also included the Southern Cross and the words ‘Aussie Pride’, both of which have come to be associated with right-wing nationalism since the Cronulla riots. 

‘I am deeply sorry for the image I posted on MySpace over 14 years ago,’ 31-year-old Gilbert said. ‘I do not hold these views and I apologise for the offence I have caused.’

Gilbert may not hold those views now but as an impressionable teenager in 2004 he could be forgiven for thinking that opinion was then common, if not normal. 

Gilbert may not hold the same views about immigration now but as an impressionable teenager in 2004 he could be forgiven for thinking that opinion was then common, if not normal. Stock image

Gilbert may not hold the same views about immigration now but as an impressionable teenager in 2004 he could be forgiven for thinking that opinion was then common, if not normal. Stock image

In 2001 the federal government implemented its 'Pacific Solution' to unauthorised boat arrivals by intercepting and transporting asylum seekers to off-shore detention centres rather than allowing them to land in Australia. Stock image

In 2001 the federal government implemented its ‘Pacific Solution’ to unauthorised boat arrivals by intercepting and transporting asylum seekers to off-shore detention centres rather than allowing them to land in Australia. Stock image

Wild flag-waving had become patriotic, Southern Cross tattoos proudly adorned young arms and legs and crowds for Anzac Day and Australia Day were swelling.

In 2004, statues of Captain Cook in public parks were more in danger of being defaced by pigeons than vandals protesting against British imperialism. 

The World Trade Centre attack of 2001 and Bali bombings the following year – both perpetrated by Muslim extremists – had stirred up anti-Islamic feeling that still festers today.

In Sydney, the Skaf gang of Lebanese-Australians pack rapists were jailed for a total of 240 years in 2002, causing more animosity towards that community.

Reports of those atrocities included claims one young victim had been told by the gang ,’You deserve it because you’re an Australian’ and ‘I’m going to fuck you Leb-style’. 

The image showed a map of Australia with the words 'F*** off we're full' but Gilbert did not come up with the imagery or the slogan

The image showed a map of Australia with the words ‘F*** off we’re full’ but Gilbert did not come up with the imagery or the slogan

Such was the climate when Gilbert decided to share with his teenage friends his views on immigration.

On Friday morning radio host Kyle Sandilands defended Gilbert on his KIIS FM breakfast show. 

‘The kid was 16,’ Sandilands told his audience. ‘I blame the government at the time.

‘This was when the government was turning boats back around with 200 poor Indonesians coming to Australia for a better life.

‘That’s what the government said: “No to the boats”. He was a 16-year-old kid echoing what the government would be thinking.’

‘It’s not like he would have been a racist teenager kid. It’s just what it was like back then.’

Immigration actually grew each year during John Howard’s prime ministership from 1996 to 2007 to a peak of 158,630, while he talked tough about stopping illegal arrivals.

In his election campaign launch speech in October 2001, Howard described Australians as ‘an open-hearted people’ who took on more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation other than Canada.

New South Wales Police had been recording incidents attributed to racial tensions around Cronulla, where there was a history of conflict between locals and visitors from the western suburbs, since October 2005. A riot erupted on December 11 (pictured)

New South Wales Police had been recording incidents attributed to racial tensions around Cronulla, where there was a history of conflict between locals and visitors from the western suburbs, since October 2005. A riot erupted on December 11 (pictured)

In 2004 flag-waving was seen as patriotic, Southern Cross tattoos proudly adorned young arms and legs and crowds for Anzac Day (pictured) and Australia Day were swelling

In 2004 flag-waving was seen as patriotic, Southern Cross tattoos proudly adorned young arms and legs and crowds for Anzac Day (pictured) and Australia Day were swelling

‘We have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations,’ Howard said, before uttering the only line most people remember:

‘But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.’

In 2001 the federal government implemented its ‘Pacific Solution’ to unauthorised boat arrivals by intercepting and transporting asylum seekers to off-shore detention centres rather than allowing them to land in Australia.  

Asylum seekers arriving by boat fell from 5,516 on 43 vessels in 2001 to just one the following year. Just 53 asylum seekers reached Australia in 2003 and 15 in 2004. 

While conservative older politicians were linking immigration, terrorism and crime to unwanted foreigners in 2004, it was young people who were waving and wearing Australian flags at the Big Day Out.

All these anti-immigration feelings and raw patriotism erupted one Sunday on Sydney’s southern beaches in what became known as the Cronulla race riots.  

Police commissioner Ken Moroney said the riots were 'absolutely totally un-Australian', which may not have technically been right. Stock image

Police commissioner Ken Moroney said the riots were ‘absolutely totally un-Australian’, which may not have technically been right. Stock image

New South Wales Police had been recording incidents attributed to racial tensions around Cronulla, where there was a history of conflict between locals and visitors from the western suburbs, since October 2005.

On December 4 there was a physical altercation between a group of eight Middle Eastern youths and three off-duty Anglo-Australian lifesavers on North Cronulla beach in which two of the lifesavers were assaulted.

A call to arms resulted in more than 270,000 text messages being sent to incite another confrontation at North Cronulla a week after the first. 

Media reporting of the first incident featured claims that ‘groups of young Lebanese men’ had previously harassed local women, calling them ‘Aussie sl*ts’.

Radio talkback host Alan Jones called these young men ‘Middle Eastern grubs’.

‘We don’t have Anglo-Saxon kids out there raping women in Western Sydney,’ he said.

Jones endorsed a listener’s suggestion that bikie gangs be brought down to Cronulla railway station to deal with ‘Lebanese thugs’ and that the event should be televised.

Immigration actually grew each year during John Howard's prime ministership from 1996 to 2007 to a peak of 158,630, while he talked tough about stopping illegal arrivals. Stock image

Immigration actually grew each year during John Howard’s prime ministership from 1996 to 2007 to a peak of 158,630, while he talked tough about stopping illegal arrivals. Stock image

On Sunday, December 11 about 5,000 people gathered at the beach from early in the morning. There were plenty of Southern Cross tattoos and Australian flags on show.

Shortly before 1pm a young man of Middle Eastern appearance was surrounded and chased into into a nearby pub, then dragged out and attacked by the mob.

In subsequent skirmishes bottles were thrown at racially-selected targets amid chants of ‘F*** off Lebs!’, ‘We grew here, you flew here’, ‘Aussie pride’ and ‘F*** off wogs’.

Their opponents responded with their own written slogans: ‘We fear no ozy pigs’ and ‘We came in planes yous came by chains u convict dogs.’

Crowds turned on police and two young men of Middle Eastern appearance were assaulted on a train as officers tried to control the situation.

Further assaults took place through the afternoon and a large group of men assembled that night at Punchbowl in Sydney’s south-west to launch a retaliatory assault.

Police and paramedics were injured in the various melees and in the next few nights the violence spread to other suburbs. Police are pictured restraining a man at Cronulla on December 11, 2005

Police and paramedics were injured in the various melees and in the next few nights the violence spread to other suburbs. Police are pictured restraining a man at Cronulla on December 11, 2005

Rioters armed with knives, bars and bats drove in convoy to Maroubra in the south-eastern suburbs and caused further mayhem, assaulting locals, threatening rape and smashing up cars.

Police and paramedics were injured in the various melees and in the next few nights the violence spread to other suburbs.

The riots made news around the world and warnings about travelling to Australia were temporarily issued by some countries.

NSW premier Morris Iemma called the attacks ‘disgusting, cowardly behaviour’ and John Howard condemned the violence as ‘sickening and deplorable’.

Police commissioner Ken Moroney said the riots were ‘absolutely totally un-Australian’, which may not have technically been right.

Rioters were still being arrested months later, with 285 charges laid against 104 people by July the following year. 

Charges included rioting, assaulting police, resisting arrest, malicious damage, threatening violence and affray.

Police are pictured stopping a crowd from entering a train at Cronulla railway station on December 11, 2005. There is no suggestion anyone pictured was doing anything unlawful

Police are pictured stopping a crowd from entering a train at Cronulla railway station on December 11, 2005. There is no suggestion anyone pictured was doing anything unlawful

On Sunday, December 11 about 5,000 people gathered at the beach from early in the morning. There were plenty of Southern Cross tattoos and Australian flags on show. Stock image

On Sunday, December 11 about 5,000 people gathered at the beach from early in the morning. There were plenty of Southern Cross tattoos and Australian flags on show. Stock image

Ali Osman was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray over the attack on the volunteer lifesavers on December 4 and sentenced to 500 hours of community service.

Magistrate Jacqueline Trad, who is of Lebanese descent, got stuck into Osman at Sutherland Local Court.

‘By this sort of conduct you turned your back on your family, your culture and your real country, all for the sake of some juvenile, impulsive and misplaced allegiance… ‘ she said.

‘Over the last 100 years or so, the ancestors of many citizens – mine included – came to this country seeking refuge from hatred, intolerance, violence or just simply the opportunity to improve their families’ prospects.’

Another casualty of the Cronulla riots was the Southern Cross tattoo.

In recent years an increasing number of those who had been inked with the constellation have booked themselves in for a cover-up or laser removal.

NSW premier Morris Iemma called the attacks 'disgusting, cowardly behaviour' and John Howard condemned the violence as 'sickening and deplorable'. Police are pictured holding down a man at Cronulla on December 11, 2005

NSW premier Morris Iemma called the attacks ‘disgusting, cowardly behaviour’ and John Howard condemned the violence as ‘sickening and deplorable’. Police are pictured holding down a man at Cronulla on December 11, 2005

Once considered a patriotic symbol it had become racist, in some people’s view.

‘It was a way to show our patriotism to our country and love for our country,’ David, who got the tattoo after turning 18, told the ABC.

‘To me it sort of like [symbolises] Australian rednecks now.’

Emily, who had a Southern Cross tattooed on the top of her foot, had it covered-up for the same reason.

‘It is frowned upon to be a proud Australian and I don’t like that at all because we all should be allowed to be proud of where we live,’ she said.

‘I definitely think it’s become racist to have a Southern Cross, which is terrible, because that’s our flag.’

Abby Rose, a tattooist who spent four years working in Cronulla, said the Southern Cross tattoo had lost its lustre and the only customers who seemed to want one were tourists.

Those wishing to show their patriotism now opted for native animals or flowers.

The Cronulla riots made news around the world and warnings about travelling to Australia were temporarily issued by some countries. Police are pictured at Cronulla train station on December 11, 2005. There is no suggestion anyone pictured was involved in rioting

The Cronulla riots made news around the world and warnings about travelling to Australia were temporarily issued by some countries. Police are pictured at Cronulla train station on December 11, 2005. There is no suggestion anyone pictured was involved in rioting

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