Last week Mike Baird hosted a retreat for Premier’s Department staff to reflect on their performance. A more useful exercise would’ve been spending a week talking to people in NSW about their views of the government’s performance and that of its agencies. NSW voters aren’t happy.
Nationals Leader Troy Grant, in particular, should be ashamed. The agencies he’s accountable for have proven impotent and incompetent.
The McHugh report on greyhound racing is full of spurious claims and statistics. Yet Grant has used it to justify destroying the greyhound industry and people’s livelihoods. Many of those people live in Grant’s electorate. Many voted National believing they care about country people’s interests, only to watch Grant lead the Nationals into bed with the Greens and animal activists.
If Grant believes McHugh’s report he should resign. It claims 10-20% of trainers engage in live baiting. Based on Greyhound Racing NSW’s 2015 Annual Report, that would be 330 to 660 participants engaged in criminal activities. Apparently police have done nothing to catch these crooks. Who’s the Police Minister? Troy Grant. All this supposedly took place under the nose of Greyhound Racing NSW, the industry oversight body appointed by, and accountable to, the government. Step forward again Troy Grant, Minister for Racing.
It’s bad enough agencies under Grant’s watch are accused of failing to protect animals. They’ve also failed to protect people.
The inquiry into the Lindt Café siege reveals a police force out of its depth; lacking readiness and capability to deal with terrorism.
Terrorism against Western nations on home soil has been a known threat for over a decade. It’s astonishing NSW Police had no competent plan for dealing with it. During the siege a plan to storm the café was put to senior police officers. Tactical operations believed it was sound and executable. It wasn’t approved. It took the execution of a hostage to prompt police to storm the café.
Equally troubling is NSW Police had its priorities all wrong. When questioned on why police delayed storming the café, it was put to a police commander the gunman’s welfare wasn’t the primary concern. He replied: “I can’t ignore Man Monis as an individual, he had the same rights as anyone else.” Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows Monis forfeited his rights when he held people at gunpoint.
When police’s primary focus should’ve been freeing the hostages, they focussed on “community harmony”, conveying tolerance and preventing a backlash. They activated a “high-visibility policing operation” to respond to potential bias crimes only 6 hours into the siege.
So police had a plan for bias crimes but no plan for the crime taking place in the café. They took pre-emptive steps against a non-existent backlash but not against the hostage-taker.
Now, I have zero tolerance for hate crimes and believe police should crack down on anyone inciting violence. So it annoys me police and prosecutors often do nothing when bias crimes actually occur; when people actually call on others to commit violence based on race or religion.
Take Ismail al-Wahwah of the terrorist sympathising group Hizb-ut Tahrir. In sermons viewable on the internet he’s incited violence and called for jihad against Jews, saying:
“The Jews will not thrive and will not live in safety because they are the slayer of prophets... Wherever the Jews live corruption abounds. … Whoever liberates the human race today from the corruption of the Israelites, of the sinners, of the infidel Israelites. The entire world suffers from the Israelites today and complains about them. Who will set the world free from the Israelites so that the world will be able to say that it has rid itself of that hidden evil.”
“Tomorrow you (Jews) shall see what will become of you: an eye for an eye, blood for blood, and destruction for destruction.”
It’s not a speech from Germany in the 1930s. It’s from Sydney in 2014.
Complaints to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board about this hate speech have been in vain. The DPP wont lay charges under the Anti-Discrimination Act (ADA). It’s actually never laid a charge based on an ADA complaint, in most cases believing it couldn’t secure a prosecution.
Clearly the ADA is deficient if al-Wahwah’s comments aren’t even worthy of a charge. But police can also investigate laying charges for common assault which is when someone intentionally or recklessly makes a threat that produces an immediate fear or apprehension of physical violence. Even if the person threatened doesn’t know when the violence may be effected.
Just imagine if someone called on people to “set the world free” from members of your religion; or warned your ethnicity or nationality “will not live in safety” or “will see what will become of you”. I tell you now, if someone stood in a Sydney street shouting those things about Aboriginal people I would be watching my back.
Police should investigate al-Wahwah. If they say they can’t then you have to ask why they bothered to implement a pre-emptive action plan against bias crimes during the Lindt Café siege. Because apparently, there’s nothing much police or prosecutors can do about them.
The agencies within Grant’s accountability have failed to protect those under their care. People in NSW expect police and regulators to do their job. Grant should spend less time courting the Greens and more time focussing on doing his.
An edited version of this article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 25 August 2016.
People of NSW deserve better
25 August 2016
By Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO