Topics: Victorian State Government release of man convicted of terrorism related offences.
MATT DORAN: Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews joins me now. Minister, morning to you. Thank you for your time. A lot of people looking at this and understandably a little worried. The question is how is a man who has been convicted of a terrorist-related offence, released early. I understand the nuances as related to the pandemic discounts, but does this seem right to you?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, I think many people would say that this is an absolutely outrageous circumstance. Here we have an individual who was convicted of terrorist-related offences, who should have been serving an additional nine months, but they were- he was released within nine hours of the sentence being handed down, simply because he was locked up during COVID. I mean, it’s outrageous.
MATT DORAN: Well, looking at some of the posts that were, you know, that were mentioned throughout the trial, he spoke about a love of a gun which he called both a beast and a baby. I mean, we don’t need to get back into the nuances of what happened at trial, but safe to say, some concerns about the welfare of the broader public. And we have to now stand back and say, has his ideological stance shifted enough and should he have been released early. What do you do now?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, we’ve brought in the Australian Federal Police. They were actually very well prepared for an eventuality that this individual may be released. So they had already started to put measures in place to make sure that the Victorian community was kept safe. But quite frankly, this is a Victorian Government policy failure. And yes, the Federal Government has stepped in through the Australian Federal Police to make sure that the Victorian community are safe. But really, the Victorian Government needs to reassess its policy immediately and change it. I mean, we can’t have these serious criminals out on the streets, simply because there’s been a discount on their sentence. And the obvious question is, how many others are out there that we don’t know about, that have been released early? Who may have committed crimes, they may have murdered people, raped people, committed very serious offences and they’re out on the street because of a discount in their sentence.
MATT DORAN: Well, as the Home Affairs Minister, how do we go about urgently answering that very question that you’ve posed there, in tandem with the Victorian Government, of course? But how do we find out that there aren’t people poised for release that might have similarly concerning backgrounds, that we don’t end up having to have this discussion again, after the fact?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes. Well, firstly, the Victorian Government needs to say how many people have actually been released, how many serious offenders are out there on the streets. Then they need to take action to stop this. It is an absolute nonsense. Now, we will look very closely at what we can do with the likes of things such as control orders for this particular individual. So, that application is being prepared now for me to have a look at. I will give that my immediate attention so that there are some controls on this individual out in the community. It’s essential that we put those things in place so that the Victorian community is protected.
MATT DORAN: Yeah. It’s great to hear that. There is a limit on timing of those control orders, but it’s certainly a start. Minister, thank you for joining us this morning.
KAREN ANDREWS: Absolutely.