As Crikey's December 13 editorial pointed out, in an October 2001 election speech Prime Minister John Howard described Cronulla and its surrounding suburbs as "a part of Sydney which has always represented to me what middle Australia is all about".
No real surprise there, but when you consider this in the context of this week's shameful race riots at Cronulla beach, where people of "middle eastern appearance" were set upon by drunken racist thugs, it's at the very least a trifle disturbing.
So much analysis isn't really necessary, because as Crikey further quotes, Howard continued to set the record straight. "If you listen to the people of this part of Sydney, you've got a pretty good idea of what the people of Australia are thinking and what the people of Australia want from their leaders".
Of course, this was all back in 2001, but if you're in any confusion as to what Howard's thoughts on the Cronulla crowd are these days, his hasty damage control should set the record straight. "I do not accept there is underlying racism in this country" quoth our apparently straight-faced PM, simultaneously staring down mobs of "Aussie blokes" (mate) chanting slogans like "wogs go home" and "no more Lebs".
Howard didn't even see much wrong with these top Aussie sorts getting around cloaking themselves in Australian flags.
At least Costello had the balls to put that one to rest. It's a pity the same can't be said for our Prime Minister. If this isn't proof that the Liberal party is One Nation mark II, I don't know what is.