The Age reports "PM Howard has come under attack over his response to the Sydney riots, with claims he is burying his head in the sand by denying the potential for harm to Australia's international reputation."
Of course, Howard is dodging and weaving as usual and avoiding showing any strong leadership on this issue. It is difficult for him to agree that deep-seated racism is behind these events because he has shaped the antagonistic mindset that emerged in Cronulla on the weekend. He tapped into race fears in 2001 to win his 'Dark Victory' and has been playing the fear card ever since to prop up support for his government.
Remember this from David Marr's and Marian Wilkinson's excellent book (Dark Victory):
"They put lives at risk. They twisted the law. They drew the military into the heart of an election campaign. They muzzled the press. They misused intelligence services, defied the United Nations, antagonised Indonesia and bribed poverty stricken Pacific states. They closed Australia to refugees - and won a mighty election victory"
Howard knows his demographic very well, whether they live in Cronulla or elsewhere, and is not beyond plumbing new depths to stay in power.