Sydney Siege: If Safe To Do So, Just Shoot The Bastard

AUSTRALIANS — and our friends across the world, especially those who have experienced the outrage of a terror incident — are entitled to feel violated this morning, as the country wakes to a second day of the Sydney siege; the professionalism of response personnel is laudable, yet the welfare of hostages must be weighed against the stability or otherwise of their captor. If the opportunity to do so presents, Police should just shoot the bastard.

There are some readers who will not approve of my advocacy of a summary end to the outrage being played out in Sydney today, as the siege in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place enters its second day.

But the outrage being played out involving an unquantified number of hostages has the potential to turn far uglier than it already has, up to and including a significant and needless loss of life at the hands of what can hardly be described — based on information in the public domain — as a quality individual.

Despite the fact hostages were reportedly made to hold an Islamic State flag across the windows of the cafe at one point (and that the flag remained visible for much of the day yesterday), this is not — as first feared — an organised terror attack; rather, a so-called “lone wolf” acting independently, and said to be a “fringe Islamist.” At time of publication (1.30am, Melbourne time) the man has made no demands except to speak to Tony Abbott on commercial radio, and his motives are unknown.

And it needs to be noted that the mainstream Islamic community has co-operated fully with Australian authorities — as it should — and that there is no reason at all to believe it has any connection whatsoever to this incident.

Even so, the 49-year-old Iranian perpetrator — Man Haron Monis, also self-styled as “Sheik Haron” — is “well known” to Police; having arrived in Australia in 1996 as a refugee he apparently has a lengthy criminal record, including charges over the sexual assault and indecent assault of a woman in 2002, and is currently on bail pending other charges arising from the murder of his ex-wife last year.

In short, the guy shouldn’t even be in Australia as far as I’m concerned: he should have been sent back to wherever was so terrible he fled here to begin with. And if that wasn’t possible, he should never have been released on bail. The fact he was makes a mockery of the community’s expectations of due legal process. The siege underway in Sydney proves it.

Armed with a sawn-off shotgun and a machete, this monument to Australia’s refugee intake program is now holding perhaps 20 innocent bystanders hostage in a one-man reign of terror that has shut down a large portion of the Sydney CBD, disrupted the lives of Sydneysiders generally, and caused great outrage and angst that has resonated far beyond Sydney.

And the only positive thing I can find to say about this incident (aside from the fact none of the hostages have been killed) is that five of those held captive have managed to escape.

But the thing that really concerns me (as I wind up for the day for a few hours’ sleep) is the fact this fellow is known to be irrational, is clearly violent and unstable, and — with the siege already 16 hours old as I publish this — must be growing tired.

There is no telling what he might do if he feels he is losing control over the situation he has created as the veil of sleep begins to descend on him.

He may opt to simply lash out, which would be the worst possible development in an already fraught situation.

And as traumatised as those hostages remaining trapped in the Lindt cafe must be, their ordeal must surely grow worse — and more scarring — the longer it continues.

I don’t pretend for a moment to possess the full facts available to relevant officials and service personnel; these details are rightly known only to those directly involved in dealing with the crisis and who have tried to bring it to a peaceful conclusion.

But in making comment I simply relay an opinion I hold, and one which I have found, during the day yesterday, to be held by the vast majority of the people with whom the siege arose in conversation.

The best thing that could happen, of course, is that he could release the prisoners, hand himself over to the NSW Police, and the whole unfortunate business be quietly dealt with; and this clearly remains a possibility.

The next-best option would be for Monis to fall asleep, and for his hostages to overwhelm and restrain him.

But in the absence of either of those things coming to pass — and if Police around Martin Place can find their way into the building quietly through a roof, acquire a suitable vantage point, or obtain a clear enough sight through the glass windows with a heavy calibre weapon — I have little compunction in suggesting they simply shoot the bastard.

Any concern that such a move would merely inflame others, and inspire copycat and/or retributive events, should be weighed carefully against the ongoing impact of the siege on those trapped inside the cafe and the growing traumatisation a drawn-out and fruitless endeavour to end the event peacefully might cause them in the longer term.

In the end, the welfare of his victims (which is what they are) must be the first priority of those who seek to liberate them; and after almost a full day of the obscenity having now played out, a single fatal shot might also be the easiest, safest and fastest way to bring it to an end.

There is a suggestion in the mainstream press this morning that the siege could drag on for days. It shouldn’t, and it shouldn’t be permitted to.

If it is safe for Police to do so, they should simply shoot the bastard. It might be the least damaging of all the options to deal with this monster that are presently being canvassed.

Short of unconditional surrender by the bandit, however, there is no ideal solution to this obscenity.


Economic Insanity: O’Farrell Tries To Scupper Second Sydney Airport

IN WHAT CAN only be described as an attempt to put a wrecking ball through a crucial piece of infrastructure, the NSW government has announced its refusal to fund any of the required supporting infrastructure for an airport at Badgerys Creek; it shows a churlishness that runs counter to the common good of Sydney, NSW and the Commonwealth generally, and exposes the shambolic priorities of Barry O’Farrell’s government.

The issue of Sydney Airport and what to do about it has been a political football for decades; anyone who has had direct experience of it, irrespective of where they live (and I’ve seen the inside of it dozens of times in the past few years) knows that not only is it bursting at the seams, but that it routinely causes transport and logistics chaos on a nationwide basis as it labours under the constraints of its ridiculous curfew, cap on aircraft movements, and the perennially clogged airspace overhead.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph has reported that Premier Barry O’Farrell’s newly-minted “Minister Assisting the Premier on Western Sydney,” Stuart Ayres, has publicly told the federal government that NSW will not provide any funding for the road and rail links that are key to making a second airport in the Sydney basin feasible; it is unclear whether this decree also extends to the fuel pipeline the Tele notes would be required, but the atmospheric of Ayres’ remarks is not suggestive of a willingness on NSW’s part to cough up.

Indeed, the language of some of the minister’s remarks sounds ominously like a thinly veiled threat: “I’ll be very, very clear about this: an airport in western Sydney without any enabling infrastructure will be a catastrophic disaster,” Ayres said.

In other words, build it if you dare: we’ll do our best to ensure it’s a white elephant.

The reason I’m posting on this subject today is that just about everyone with any kind of stake in Sydney’s airport politics — the residents whose complaints of noise are treated as political missiles, the NSW and federal governments, the business community, international stakeholders and tourists, and the travelling Australian public — are fed up with Sydney and its barely functional airport wreaking havoc on air travel in this country and the knock-on effects that flow from it.

Ever since the Keating government introduced an 11pm to 6am curfew at the airport — a capitulation to political protest over aircraft noise designed primarily to shore up the marginal Sydney electorate of Barton, which the ALP went on to hold in 1996 — the perennial issue of what to do about airport capacity in Sydney has been a constant feature of the “too hard” basket, with politicians of all stripes fearful of alienating the voters who dwell in the electorates beneath the city’s flight paths.

Keating’s government, to its credit, made a serious attempt to put a Badgerys Creek airport on the agenda. But this — like every other attempt to resolve the situation with anything that allowed for increased flight movements through the Sydney corridor — came to naught, again as the result of fear-based politicking at the local level.

Now — 20 years later — there is ample anecdotal evidence that the tide has turned; not only are the residents of the western Sydney region supportive of the Badgerys Creek facility being constructed, but the employment growth and other (vast) economic benefits that would flow to the area represent gains that local community, business and government figures are keen to secure and exploit.

This makes the stance of the NSW government puzzling, to say the least.

Above the line, it is Tony Abbott’s Liberal government at the federal level that is driving the renewed push for a second Sydney airport, with Treasurer Joe Hockey being its primary champion in the media. Perhaps — in the pass-the-buck, not-in-my-back-yard cesspool that is airport politics in Sydney — the ability to deflect real or imagined political fallout with a “send a message to Canberra” campaign simply isn’t thought to exist if NSW is also seen to be contributing to the project.

On the other hand, however, it doesn’t make political sense, given the ubiquitous prominence with which western Sydney now apparently features in retail political thought, to stand in the way of the very real benefits of the Badgerys Creek airport flowing through to communities in that area. 30,000 additional jobs in a region historically marked by high unemployment is a very big carrot indeed.

It raises the question, at the very least, of exactly what advice Ayres — a Penrith boy and western Sydney local — is providing O’Farrell on the subject that outweighs those benefits.

And the arguments about existing infrastructure spending don’t withstand even the most cursory consideration: the road and rail links at the very least would be subsidised by the federal government even if it didn’t pay for them outright. Given the colossal economic benefits to be had, it is inconceivable that money from private sector partners would fail to materialise, too.

It is for these reasons I contend that the utterances from Macquarie Street — far from being a warning shot across the bows — can more accurately be viewed as an attempt to sabotage the entire project rather than a simple exercise in ensuring someone other than the NSW taxpayer foots the bill.

It is well known publicly that there is little love lost between Abbott and O’Farrell.

It is also well known publicly that O’Farrell triggered outrage behind closed doors in the Abbott camp earlier this year, and rightly so, when his became the first of the Liberal states to sign on to the Gillard government’s so-called Gonski reforms.

Presented as a willingness to grab a pot of money before it was taken off the table, the NSW government’s actions in fact derailed the federal Coalition’s strategy of opposing the Gonski package, and have directly placed Abbott in the position of being obliged to honour the unaffordable additional education spending that package requires — utterly devoid as it is of any accountability surrounding educational outcomes or standards.

(I’ve said it before and will say it again: “Gonski” money will ultimately fund pay rises for teachers. Nothing else will change as a result of it. Certainly, no child will receive a better education or achieve better educational outcomes as a result of pissing billions of dollars up against a post).

But this is the second occasion in less than six months on which the NSW government has taken a stand diametrically opposed to that of its federal Liberal counterpart on a major issue of national political and economic significance, and it’s too much of a coincidence to be an accident.

Commentators in the mainstream press have increasingly characterised the O’Farrell government as a timid, risk-averse outfit: its stance on the Badgerys Creek airport will do nothing to ameliorate that perception.

O’Farrell and Ayres can rattle on about their infrastructure commitments until the cows come home, but the vexed airport issue in Sydney has been a running sore for too long; for the first time in decades there is both the political will (federally) and the community buy-in to finally and belatedly resolve it.

If O’Farrell’s government proves to be the obstacle that kyboshes that, it will ultimately pay a heavy price at the hands of NSW voters.

To be brutal about it, to sabotage a second airport in Sydney is an act of economic vandalism that will cost the Australian economy tens of billions dollars in coming years in lost trade, tourism and investment spending; the bulk of those dollars would of course flow into NSW, but the damage will be felt far more widely if the project fails to proceed.

It’s not a stain the NSW Liberals would aspire to see on their record in office.

And as for the money, the NSW government was happy to sign on to the Gonski package for extra money from the Gillard government, but in doing so also committed itself to matching one-third of that additional amount: money that would be better spent paying for the very roads and railways it now refuses to fund, rather than the bottomless well to finance the pay claims of its teacher unions it will instead create.

The Miranda by-election earlier this year was not a routine mid-term protest. It contained a clear warning to the O’Farrell government that it was on notice. Clearly, the NSW government has failed to live up to the expectations of voters in the key electorates that put it into office by a record margin in the first place. Revelations of ALP corruption at ICAC and trade union scandals do not necessarily guarantee the Liberal Party a second term in office in NSW.

The NSW government may well opt to stand firm, as is its right. Should it do so, it ought to contemplate the message behind the result in Miranda just a little more closely.

Even governments elected by such overwhelming margins as O’Farrell’s was in 2011 are fallible. South Australia, and its elections of 1993 and 1997, are ready recent proof of it.



Muslim Rioters In Sydney: Deport Them

Something happened in Sydney today that has angered me deeply: a riot by Australian Muslims. It is not their right to demonstrate that I question, but why and how they did so, and what it was over. And frankly, those who “love Osama” and call for beheadings in Australia should be thrown out of this country.

At the outset, can I just say to the lily-livered compassion babblers, bleeding hearts, assorted do-gooder types and the like who may have stumbled across this article to actually read it in its entirety before running off on the usual half-baked tangents that people in such groups are wont to do; in any case, I’m no less entitled to my views than they are, which is the whole point of this column.

And sometimes, a line has to be drawn.

Today’s riot in Sydney appears to have been some kind of rally on a “brothers in arms” basis that spiralled out of control; a local mob going out in sympathy with its brethren elsewhere in the world. The pretext — flimsy as it is — emanates from a film, made in America by a radical Christian group, and condemned by the US government and other governments across the world.

This film — reportedly produced by a US religious group called Media for Christ, and entitled Innocence of Muslims — is said to “mock” the Muslim religion, and according to a report from the Fairfax press portrays the prophet Muhammad as a womaniser and paedophile.

A small detail that seems to have been overlooked in the mad stampede of the hordes of rioters is that the film was made by a Coptic Christian from Egypt, who violated conditions of his parole on release from a US jail to do so, and who seems to have produced the film under false pretences and overdubbed the finished result with anti-Islamist propaganda.

(According to a report from the Murdoch press, the casting call lists the leading roles as George, Condalisa (sic) and Hillary, but in the finished version, the script was doctored to make them represent the Prophet Muhammad and figures from the Koran).

I’ve seen bits of the film, and it’s ridiculous: zero credibility, zero factual or intellectual basis whatsoever, and absolutely zero point in watching any more of it than the bare minimum required to see that it is utter crap.

So let’s get the most important thing into perspective first — contrary to the wild and delirious claims of today’s group and others like them elsewhere in the world, this was no state-sanctioned, anti-Muslim piece produced by the US government. This was the work of a group overseen by an individual, and not a very clever one at that.

Yet the whole point of today’s riot — as with the others that have preceded it elsewhere — was to protest against the US infidel and its alleged violation of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

And this begs the rather obvious question: why the need to wreak pandemonium in central Sydney, if Uncle Sam is the target in the first place?

Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t think the Muslim riots that have gone on in the US and elsewhere are justified, either; but even if they were, Australia — by the rioters’ own admission — was not their target.

So why do it?

To be completely candid, I think the furore surrounding Innocence of Muslims is simply an excuse to cause religion-based trouble.

People have died in the riots that have been staged over this; indeed, in Sydney today many people were injured, including Police, who at one stage were pelted with bottles and other missiles by the rampaging crowd.

To be fair, the vast majority of the Muslim community — be it here in Australia, or elsewhere in the free world — are responsible and peaceful people, who obey the laws in this country and who do add to our society on account of their presence here.

However, there is also a faction of radical Islam that is not and should never be welcome; as far as I am concerned, today’s little stunt in Sydney represents an opportunity to round some of these people up and to get rid of them.

Residency and citizenship in Australia impose certain responsibilities in return for the privileges they confer upon the recipient. Responsibilities such as obeying Australian laws, respect for Australia’s system of governance and institutions, and participating in mainstream Australian society.

Australia has been very openly welcoming to people of Muslim faith, as it has to people of many other faiths and from a diverse range of nationalities.

But it annoys me to hear anecdotes that fast food outlets in parts of the country now stock only halal meats to avoid offending the Muslim minority; that sporting centres in Sydney are operating segregated facilities for men and women out of “respect” for Muslim patrons; and it infuriates me that any Muslim resident should dare to make the suggestion that Sharia law be adopted in Australia under any circumstances whatsoever.

Yet all of this — and many other occurrences like them — happen with increasing regularity; in return, we get the sort of violence occurring that we saw in Sydney this afternoon, staged on religious grounds that are at best spurious, and over an issue that does not involve Australia, the country these men now purport to call home.

Yes, young Muslim men — hundreds of them — marching through the Pitt Street mall, chanting slogans such as “Obama, Obama, We Love Osama” and carrying placards bearing slogans like “Behead All Those That Insult The Prophet.”

Can I just say that people who think and operate along these lines have no place in Australian society?

That people who want to run a jihad through the streets of Sydney have no right to be there in the first place? In Sydney, that is. Or in Australia at all.

And I must say that far from welcoming this type of lawlessness and anti-social behaviour, we should be jettisoning its perpetrators. We don’t need people like this in Australia, and they don’t deserve to be here.

One protester — identified in numerous reports as Abdullah Sary — claimed the mob had assembled in peace and “were disappointed” police used tear gas, which defies belief, given the number of riot police who were injured today by out-of-control thugs.

“This was a non-violent protest but people don’t like seeing their brothers attacked by dogs and ending up in hospital,” he said, which begs the question: did they expect to be allowed to rampage through Sydney unhindered?

Sary — who admitted that he hadn’t even seen the film that was supposed to be the reason for all of this — offered the justification that “if you attack the prophet you are attacking our way of life.”

If today’s antics represent the “way of life” of these people, then it is to be hoped the NSW Police, in the cold light of day tomorrow, make good use of the ample television and CCTV footage that was recorded today to identify the ringleaders and other serious offenders, round them up, and hand them over to Immigration for deportation.

In fact, any of these people holding the citizenship of another country should have their Australian residency or citizenship rescinded, and be packed off to their country of origin — and barred from ever returning.

This is not the Australian way of life, and irrespective of the justifications or excuses proffered for their actions, what happened today cannot and should not be tolerated.

And at the end of the day, tolerance does not extend to accepting religiously based rioting in Australia.

To their credit, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott condemned today’s events, as did Greens leader Christine Milne; I’d challenge any of them to make an example of the people responsible for today’s riot, and to send to the rest the clear message that this type of misconduct will indeed be met with the starkest of consequences.

I’m the first to welcome anyone into this country who wants a better life, providing they come through the appropriate channels, and provided that once here they obey Australian law and observe Australian customs, and treat Australia as what it is to them: a new home, yes, but a place that has allowed them to escape from whatever it was they were on the run from when they left it.

What I will never support is attempts to transform Australia into something else — it is not a Muslim society, and never will be; nor can I tolerate the type of lawless violence, perpetrated in the name of peace but based on religion, that transpired in Sydney today.

And neither should anyone else in this country — do-gooder bleeding-hearted compassion babblers included.