WE’LL SAY it plainly: culpability for yesterday’s tragedy in the Melbourne CBD — a recidivist criminal with a history of armed violence going on a rampage in a car, killing four people and injuring dozens — rests squarely with Daniel Andrews; after two years in office, presiding over ballooning rates of violent crime that are the logical consequence of a lax and cavalier attitude to punishing criminals, his government has blood on its hands.
By now, everyone in Australia knows about the sickening incident that occurred in the Melbourne CBD yesterday afternoon; it is a tragic outrage and — the resolve of decent people permitting — ought to represent a line in the sand when it comes to butt-covering and “smart answers” to bat responsibility away from Daniel Andrews and his loathsome, incompetent state government.
I want to begin by extending condolences to the families who have lost loved ones — and wishes for a full recovery to those who have been seriously injured — in a mass slaughter event that could have been avoided if platitudes like “jail is a last resort” and misplaced concerns about the rights of criminals were dispensed with.
In addition to two adults who lost their lives, as 26-year-old Dimitrious Gargasoulas allegedly drove at pedestrians in Bourke Street to murder and maim as many people as possible, a 10-year-old child has been killed. A fourth victim has also died, although at the time of writing details are unavailable.
The alleged offender is said to have a history of mental illness and a long history of violent behaviour, and it is very nice that social workers and other do-gooders saw to it that he wasn’t deprived of his liberty.
Who took the rights and welfare of the public — including an innocent child — into account?
There are certain obligations the state — irrespective of which theory of political ideology one subscribes to — must discharge on behalf of its citizens; paramount among these is to preserve order and to uphold the rule of law: for without order under the rule of law, the freedom of ordinary folk to safely go about their lives, with confidence they will not be attacked or robbed or murdered, is impossible to guarantee.
In this instance, the inability of Police to at first detain, and later shoot (or otherwise thwart) the alleged offender, is a failure of governance for which responsibility can and must be sheeted home to Premier Daniel Andrews, his government, and any public official who had direct oversight of a sequence of events that permitted Gargasoulas to be free to commit the atrocity that took place in Melbourne yesterday.
Police Media commented that Gargasoulas had “repeatedly become known to (them) in recent weeks,” and references to a shooting incident last month involving Gargasoulas were also made, in a segment aired by Melbourne radio station 3AW late yesterday afternoon; on that basis alone, the guy should have been in gaol where he could pose no further risk to public safety.
It has also emerged that at 2am yesterday morning, Gargasoulas allegedly stabbed his brother in the chest and head at a house in the inner city suburb of Windsor; homicide investigators were called to that incident.
Another detail that filtered out last night, thanks to the efforts of journalists, is that Gargasoulas has a long history of violent behaviour.
So just how is it that he was free, at 1.45pm yesterday, to commence doing burnouts at the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street before driving down the Bourke Street Mall, mowing people down as they scrambled for cover, and proceeding across Elizabeth Street before finally being rammed by Police several blocks further up Bourke Street?
Seasoned former journalist Senator Derryn Hinch — as plugged in as ever to what goes on in Melbourne — tweeted last night that his sources had told him that Police had seven opportunities to ram the car before it embarked on its deadly rampage down Bourke Street, but were denied permission to do so. By whom?
And whilst this is a perennial question of any victim of crime — especially those who have had a friend or family member killed by a known violent offender on bail or parole — on precisely what grounds did psychologists, social workers or other “experts” who found that Gargasoulas was no risk to public safety arrive at that conclusion?
This horrific episode throws up hard questions. The Victorian public will be lucky if it ever receives straight answers to them.
As indelicate as it may be to say so, the government of Victoria has blood on its hands: the Premier, his ministers, and whoever was in operational command yesterday are very heavily culpable.
On Daniel Andrews’ watch in Victoria, we are witnessing in real time an attempt by an elected government to use the High Court — arguably in an abuse of process — to avoid an inquiry into allegations that boil down to a question of whether its actions in sequestering parliamentary resources for electoral gain amounts to official misconduct: it isn’t a good look, and whilst it isn’t directly relevant to yesterday’s events, it forms part of the backdrop I will sketch out.
The insidious slither of the PC agenda of the Left — this time into penalties, sentences, and what we might term “incarceration practices” — sees more humane and considerate treatment of criminals than their victims; the mantra of jail being last resort is applied ever more widely, and it seems there is no end to dangerous criminals being released into the community whilst awaiting trial or in short order after serving a token sentence.
There seems no end, too, to the odious practice of finding grounds for special consideration for these vermin to use to extract watered-down penalties: Gargasoulas has been widely reported to be mentally ill; the reaction of the bleeding heart do-gooder regime is to say “there, there…we can’t lock you up if you’re sick.”
Meanwhile, this special treatment is repaid all too often, on undeserved and unjustified bail or parole releases, with wanton violence and/or murder — in this case, both — and Andrews’ government, elected at about the time a wave of public anger over criminals on release committing fresh crimes was forcing change, has failed to deliver on the expectations and outcomes demanded of it.
Whether it is APEX thugs terrorising Melbourne, or gangs of Sudanese youth perpetrating a rising number of home invasions, carjackings, and assaults against the person, or the drug-fuelled violence that is the consequence of a methamphetamine epidemic and rampant availability of other illicit drugs, what was once the safest state in Australia now ranks among the most dangerous.
Speaking of the Sudanese, most of their number are decent people; but in Daniel Andrews’ Victoria, it is verboten to identify the scum in their midst terrorising old ladies in their homes and perpetrating violence against ordinary decent folk as Sudanese: to do so is fatuously said to be “racist.”
Liberal leader Matthew Guy is little better, and I’m told he has privately had screaming matches with Liberals who have called the Sudanese gangs out as “Sudanese” on the basis they are “off message.” This apparently bipartisan approach to failing to call law and order problems for what they are is delusional. Those who are in on the act, to use the vernacular, have their heads up their arses.
And then there’s the small matter of the even smaller sentences that are actually served by those dangerous criminals who end up in jail at all.
The point is that having governed Victoria for almost 14 of the last 18 years, the ALP is heavily and disproportionately responsible for the law and order regime in force in this state.
Having now served in office for almost two-thirds of the four-year term to which it was elected in November 2014, the Andrews government does not have the dubious luxury of blaming the opposition or attempting to deny there is a crime problem in Victoria that is spiralling out of control.
The only parties to what happened in Melbourne yesterday who are blameless are those frontline Police who were simply obeying orders; these tireless law enforcement officers deserve respect for what they do. Notwithstanding the very real issues at play here and the tragic manifestation of them we saw yesterday, the Victorian community owes these people a debt of gratitude.
If it is true, as Hinch reported, that Police were forbidden to capitalise on seven opportunities to ram Gargasoulas’ car off the road before he went on his slaughter spree, then whoever gave the orders not to intervene should be dismissed.
Andrews, for his part, has spent two years explaining away the rocketing crime rate with unconvincing rhetoric and creative interpretations of official statistics for no better reason than cynical politicking, but there is a deadly flaw in doing so. The position of the Andrews government is that crime is well under control, and that Victorians have never been safer. Yesterday’s events prove they are not. The fact that Gargasoulas’ background contains all the elements of foreseeable risk compounds the fault of the state government.
In other words, you can’t have it both ways. If the principle of responsible government means anything at all to Daniel Andrews, his first order of business on Monday must be to sack Police minister Lisa Neville. His second should be to tender his own resignation. If former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell can be forced to resign over an undeclared gift of a bottle of wine, then four deaths and dozens of people hurt, in an incident that could have been avoided through rigorous policy and governance, makes O’Farrell’s misdemeanours pale by comparison.
I would be unsurprised if, in due course, the survivors and the families of the deceased launched a class action against the state of Victoria for compensation; the liability to the Victorian taxpayer could run into the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. The realist in me says they would be entitled to the money. The cynic says they will never see it. So morally bankrupt is the Andrews government that even if a judicial inquiry led to an obligation to pay, the government would probably fight that all the way to the High Court too.
In practice, the senseless slaughter and the circumstances that led to it will take years to unpick. The trauma will similarly last for years.
But the buck stops with the government, where law enforcement is concerned.
Mentally ill or not, or premeditated in his actions or not, the alleged offender Gargasoulas’ history is a veritable road map to an individual who should never have been released into the community: but he was, and with tragic consequences.
Nothing is going to bring back the dead, and nothing is going to ever make it quite right for those who were hurt — or, come to think of it, for many of those who were bystanders and simply witnessed the dreadful actions that were committed in central Melbourne at lunchtime yesterday.
But Daniel Andrews must be held responsible for what happened in Melbourne yesterday; it is the failed policies and maladministration of his government that led directly to the tragic events that took place on Bourke Street, and responsibility demands that consequences follow.
A shred of decency would see Daniel Andrews dismiss his minister, and resign himself shortly thereafter. But Andrews, like the government he leads, has no sense of public decency whatsoever, which means all care will be taken to protect the rights of the alleged offender — and the victims, in all likelihood, will be given the shaft.