Malcolm Turnbull was quick to wonder why that guy who committed the terrorist attack in Brighton was on parole…
Now, we know it’s a “terrorist attack” because Khayre said that he was doing it for “ISIS and Al Qaeda” which some pedants have suggested was rather strange considering that there’s a major split between the two. Rather like a protest in Queensland where the spokesman claims that he’s there on behalf of Adani and The Greens. However, let’s not let that stop us from giving the man all the notoriety of a terrorist rather than the cursory glance of a petty criminal or the total irrelevance of someone who kills their wife. Let’s do several pages on who he was and make him sound important enough for some deranged person to want to copy.
Yes, he’s a terrorist and therefore must be given plenty of coverage. This is something that’s IMPORTANT. Not one of the many thousands of preventable deaths that don’t even rate a mention in the news media. We must have a profile on him.
And we must find someone – or something – to blame.
Blaming Islam has been given a pretty good airing by some politicians. But we’ve been doing that since 2001 and there’s a limit to how often you can do that when you have no real solution once you’ve placed the blame.
“We should stop Muslim immigration!”
“Yeah, but most of the terrorist crimes have been committed by people born in the country and radicalised!”
And, of course, some people will put up memes like this:
So, Malcolm Turnbull wonders why that Jacqub Khayre was on parole:
“How was this man on parole?
“He had a long record of violence — a very long record of violence. He had been charged with a terror offence and acquitted, known to have connections, at least in the past, with violent extremists. He was a known violent offender.”
And Victorian Opposition leader jumps on the bandwagon asking Daniel Andrews in Question Time: “Under your watch, what is it that a criminal has to do to be denied parole in the state of Victoria?”
Now I know that the Courts will sometimes get in wrong, even if they’re not the ones named Margaret or Richard. Take the recent Bourke Street tragedy where Dimitrious Gargasoulas was granted bail. Much was made of the fact that the police opposed it, but unless you know how common it for police to oppose bail then that fact by itself is meaningless. If, for example, the police do that in 98% of cases, then it’s natural that the magistrate will frequently ignore it, but if they only do it rarely, then it’s more significant if the advice isn’t heeded. It’s easy to look at this one case in retrospect and say that the court got it wrong. However, the consequence of always remanding someone may mean that we need to significantly raise taxes in order to build more remand centres capable of housing all of the extra people.
In the Brighton case, we have a violent criminal who was on parole. Now, parole doesn’t necessary mean “early release” and I’m not sure anybody would advocate releasing violent offenders into the community with no oversight whatsoever. Turnbull’s point about him being charged with a terror offence – and acquitted – doesn’t suggest to me that he shouldn’t have been on parole; it suggests that, if anything, he should have been on an ASIO or AFP watch list, which would make him a Federal Government failure. No, says Malcolm, let’s look at why he was out on parole, but I’ll bet if someone suggests that it may have been a failure of something that his government is responsible for, we’ll see complaints about politicising a tragedy.
While some people who’ve committed terrorist offences are being kept in jail after their sentence has finished because they’re still regarded as a threat, but in Khayre’s case that would be a bit problematic because he was acquitted of the terrorist offence in 2010. He was in jail for a home invasion, and while it was a violent one, as yet, we are not in the habit of extending sentences for violent criminals because we suspect they might offend.*
Which bring me back to the Victorian Opposition Leader, Matthew “Vote for Me Cause I’m Not Daniel Andrews Apart From That I Got Nothing” Guy. In attacking Khayre’s release from prison, Guy completely ignores the fact that he was sentenced in 2012 while the Victorian Liberals were in government. If the sentence was too light, then surely his predecessors must share some of the blame for not ensuring that sentences were tougher – one of their election promises in 2010. Of course, pointing out something like that would just be petty point-scoring.
The simple truth is that we can’t prepare for the unexpected. There’ll always be someone who suddenly becomes violent with no warning. But in the recent terror incident in Brighton, the questions of who he was, why he was on parole, whether he was trying to patch up the feud between ISIS and Al Qaeda and can we blame it on Labor are largely unimportant. The important question is: Was it predictable that a person with violent tendencies and drug problems was liable to commit a violent act when released from prison?
If the answer to that is yes, then whether it’s a terrorist act or not, surely the only other question can be: What can we do to reduce the chance of it happening again?
*Of course, that’s a whole other discussion. If ALL violent criminals were held until we thought that they’d been rehabilitated, then we’d have a completely different justice system. Mind you, it’d probably cost a lot more and we’d eventually realise that maybe we should spend more on drug and education programs for prisoners because it’s cheaper in the long run.
Update on parole: Just In: Parole board was ‘never told’ Brighton siege gunman was on terror watch list