Bourke street attack Pellegrini's
(Image: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett)

Readers responded with usual insight yesterday to Bernard Keane’s question of why Bourke Street killer Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was free on bail, raising the point that it takes more than a simple answer. Elsewhere, readers weighed-in on the impacts, and continued struggles, of changing energy policy in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley (investigated by Kurt Johnson), and on the reappearance of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon on the ABC.

On the Bourke Street killer’s bail

Maire Mannik writes: As someone with decades of experience in criminal justice statistics, let me explain that the reason Shire Ali was on bail is simple: his state offences were minor ones of driving unlicenced and driving unregistered. The penalties for these are fines, not imprisonment. Even if the magistrate had known that he was on some terrorist watch list, there is no mechanism for putting him in remand for traffic infringements. Every day large numbers of people facing these charges fail to turn up in court for various reasons. 

Remand itself can be a miscarriage of justice and should only be applied when there is genuine risk from the defendant being at large. They are still presumed innocent at this stage. In South Australia less than a third of those in remand, sometimes for several years awaiting trial, end up with a custodial sentence. More often than not the prosecution withdraws the case or the defendant, though not guilty, realises a guilty plea will save them years in jail awaiting trial.

On the power battles of the Latrobe Valley

Graeski writes: It didn’t have to be this way. There was a time when Australia was a world leader in renewable energy. A planned, government-supported transition to a new economic base for the region could have avoided all the suffering and indignity that the region’s workforce has been forced to endure. After all, the government invested hundreds of millions of dollars over decades propping up multinational automobile manufacturers. Would it have made any less sense to pour the same funding into a local, state-owned industry that wouldn’t just pocket the money and run eventually anyway?

On Steve Bannon’s repeat ABC appearance

Vasco writes: The intrepid reporters and their enablers at the ABC have done nothing to help us understand anything new about Bannon. He’s a con and they’ve been conned. He and his message are not new, he’s not nice and remains a dangerous demagogue. Keep an eye on him by all means but don’t flatter him with fawning interviews. Decent investigative journalism and critical analysis would be a better use of their skills and time.

TheRabidHamster writes: It might be shocking to say but almost everyone is worth listening to. If we continue to use simple labels to compartmentalise people and then refuse to listen to them based only on these simplistic labels, we reduce our own tolerance of ideas.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and cock-ups to [email protected]. We reserve the right to edit comments for length and clarity. Please include your full name.

Peter Fray

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