FLINDERS STREET ATTACK ‘NOT TERROR’

The 32-year-old who allegedly used a car to mow down pedestrians on Flinders Street in Melbourne was not motivated by terrorism, police believe.

Late last night, Victorian police said they were investigating the matter as a deliberate act allegedly committed by a man with a history of mental health issues and drug use. The Herald Sun has named the man as Saeed Noori.

“We don’t at this time have any evidence or any intelligence to indicate there’s a connection with terrorism,” Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton told media.

The incident, which left 15 people injured and four more in a critical condition, is still being investigated by the state’s Counter-Terrorism Command, Homicide Squad, and Major Collision Investigation Unit. A four-year-old boy who was injured is not among those in a critical condition. The man alleged to have been driving the car remains in hospital and has not yet been interviewed by police.

A second man detained at the scene who had been shooting video of the incident and had knives found in his bag was arrested but is not believed to have been linked to the driver or the attack.

Police praised an unidentified off-duty officer who arrested the driver after his car hit a tram-stop, causing a physical altercation that left the officer injured.

Patton implored Victorians not to be deterred by the chaos, which comes almost one year after a similar attack on Bourke Street left six people dead. “Go to the carols, go to the cricket,” he said. Trams are running as usual in Melbourne today.

UN REBUKES TRUMP OVER JERUSALEM

The UN’s General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to endorse a motion reaffirming that the status of Jerusalem cannot be settled until a final peace agreement is reached between the Israelis and Palestinians. The result is a rebuke to US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to the contested city.

Threats made by US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who warned her country would be “taking names” of those who supported the motion, failed to sway many members, with the US among just nine to vote “no”. Many European allies of the US voted to support the motion, including the UK, France, and Germany, while Australia was one of 35 countries to abstain.

Haley was enraged by the vote, saying “When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have expectation that we will be respected.”

The vote is effectively symbolic and has no power to reverse the US’ decision.

ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIER

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Treasurer Scott Morrison has vowed to act as a bastion of religious liberty. “It all starts when you allow religious freedoms [to be eroded], mockery to be made of your faith or your religious festivals – it always starts innocently and it’s always said it is just a joke – just like most discrimination does,” Morrison told the paper.

With anti-Semitism reportedly on the rise and federal politicians calling for bans on Muslims entering the country, perhaps it’s a timely intervention. Reading between the lines of Morrison’s comments, however, does not encourage one to hold their breath for the Treasurer to stand up to Pauline Hanson et al.

“Where I think people are being offensive to religion in this country – whichever religion that might be, but particularly the one I and many other Christians subscribe to – well, we will just call it out and we will demand the same respect that people should provide to all religions,” he said.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Australian man among Philippines ferry survivors

HMAS AE1 World War I submarine found after century-long search

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: The High Court holds a directions hearing to help decide the length of the term for Jim Molan, the Liberal elevated to the Senate after Fiona Nash and Hollie Hughes were ruled ineligible.

Around the Country: The final edition of the Crikey Worm for 2017 goes out.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Can Malcolm Turnbull turn a sunny economy into votes next year — Phillip Coorey (Australian Financial Review $): “Australia remains on track to reach balance by 2019-20 and surplus the year after. It would be the first surplus in 13 years. For once, it feels achievable and that is testament to Morrison, upon becoming Treasurer, dispensing with heroic assumptions underpinning such indicators as nominal and real growth forecasts and commodity prices that previous treasurers used to generate false hope.”

So long, George Brandis, we never really knew you — Waleed Aly (Sydney Morning Herald): “None of this means Brandis was a man without serious contradictions. As attorney-general, he consistently expanded the power of the state against the individual in the most illiberal of ways.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY 

No politician has the spine to stand up to Australia’s intelligence state — Bernard Keane: “Our spies operate with virtually no public parliamentary scrutiny. We are blithely assured by politicians that we have the world’s best counter-terrorist and counter-espionage agencies, despite their racking up major failures — Man Haron Monis, the near-thing attempt to bring down an airliner out of Sydney about which our agencies knew nothing, major cybersecurity lapses. But we have weak mechanisms for politicians – publicly or in-camera – to hold them to account.”

Apple supplanting the Koorie trust in Fed Square is a very 2017 thing to happen — Helen Razer: “But for now, let me say, without hope or agenda: Apple. To me, you are perfidious. And it is with this sign that I convey what I saw in 2017: a world largely convinced that those who now have the most power will act as no powerful entity in history ever has, and give their power away.”

Two feminist stories that won’t get anywhere near the attention of Matt Damon and Me Too — Ruby Hamad: “From Tanzania to El-Salvador to Sydney to Texas, this war for control of our reproductive capacity is not one we have the privilege to stop waging. How sobering then, that it appears to be one where we are being duped into discarding our weapons.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW