This is the most telling part of the government’s review of the Sydney siege:

“[Man Haron] Monis’ acts of personal violence were exclusively directed towards women who he knew in one capacity or another, rather than towards the public at large. National security agencies assessed there was nothing to suggest Monis was involved in terrorist related activities.”

Monis didn’t slip below the radar of security agencies. He was on it, constantly, and particularly in the days before the siege. But they decided he wasn’t a threat.

Monis, they reasoned, had only been violent to women he knew, mostly in the privacy of his or their home. Nothing to see here, despite that violence, and despite a history of mental health problems.

Today, a desperate Tony Abbott, standing Obama-like in front of a row of flags, promised yet further strengthening of security and immigration laws, and further restrictions on free speech, and released a report calling for more money for security agencies.

What no one is addressing is the extensive evidence that agencies didn’t need more power or more money or more information to stop Monis before he walked into the Lindt cafe — they needed to see violence against women as more than just a niche issue unrelated to their job of protecting Australians.

Peter Fray

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