If you were of a suspicious cast of mind, you might wonder exactly why the story of the Prime Minister “considering” a reshuffle over the weekend suddenly appeared last night, as the fallout from the Sydney siege continued, amid talk of possible failures by NSW Police, ASIO and the Australian Federal Police, and the bizarre misleading of the Prime Minister himself by the AFP on Man Monis’ gun licence.

A suspicious person might wonder if the story were a deliberate attempt to distract the press gallery from pondering the mess the government is now in as a consequence of possible bungles by its most important security agencies, agencies even senior ministers are publicly questioning. It won’t distract voters, who couldn’t care less about the reshuffling of ministers they know nothing about anyway, but it might help keep pesky journalists off an issue of profound sensitivity for the government.

The inquiry announced by the Prime Minister on Wednesday with NSW Premier Mike Baird is a bare-bones effort, the absolute least the government should be doing, a quick, in-house six-week review of nearly two decades of information about Man Monis, how security agencies dealt with him and what happened on Monday and Tuesday morning in the cafe. One of those weeks is Christmas; how far the review will get beyond a desktop analysis must be seriously questioned. Anthony Byrne, Labor deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, wants more, telling Crikey “the Prime Minister is right to initiate an inquiry. But an independent judicial inquiry is likely to do a better job of assuring both the community and, particularly, the victims’ families and survivors, that what happened is being comprehensively examined.”

Make no mistake, despite the imminence of the festive season and the summer break, Man Monis and the siege will remain top of mind for voters, and not in a way that the Coalition might initially have thought. The calls for a proper inquiry will continue to grow.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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