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Did High Court loss trigger Monis siege?

By Max Wallace - posted Friday, 12 June 2015


‘I assure you that Sheikh Haron does not need a gun.’

In a 2008 video on Man Haron Monis’ website, in front of a screen with Monis’ web  address, a young woman in a black burka, with only her eyes revealed, spoke those words that now resonate with sad irony.

She goes on to criticise Nationwide News, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph, for daring to suggest that Islamic Jihad involves violence. In a script obviously written by Monis, there are assertions that violence is not the Islamic way.

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A year later, 2009, the message is dramatically reversed. Another, probably older, woman, again in a black burka with only her eyes revealed, and again reading from a Monis script, says Muslims ...

‘ ... must submit to God’s will. Yes, we are happy about the punishment of September 11. Yes, we are happy about the punishment in Bali. Yes, we are happy about the punishment of the Holocaust and any other punishment that God sends us.’

So, Monis openly displayed his approval of violence against the United States and its citizens murdered en masse; approved equally of the mass murder of the citizens of the country, Australia, that had given him refuge; openly displayed his anti-Semitism in the worst possible way.

Between 2007 and 2009 Monis wrote inflammatory letters to the parents of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, calling the soldiers murderers. He was charged with an offence against the Posts and Telegraphs Act, using a postal service to cause offence. 

In 2011 Monis received legal aid to contest his conviction for writing these letters on the grounds that the letters were an instance of free speech. The case was to go all the way to the High Court at considerable taxpayer expense.

On Friday 12 December 2014 he received bad news. His action in the High Court was lost on a legal technicality after the six High Court judges were split 3-3 in their judgments on his case  (Monis v The Queen; Droudis v The Queen [2014] HCATrans 280 (12 December 2014).

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It was after this bad news on the Friday that on Monday 15 December an armed Monis walked into the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney.

On 28 December 2014 on Radio 2GB, the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, questioned the rationale for Monis’ legal aid funding where it seemed taxpayers were ‘funding attacks on taxpayers’. Shortly after the siege he had called for a state-federal inquiry.

Much has also been rightly made of the fact that Monis was on bail regarding the other serious criminal cases  he was facing. His personal freedom on bail was surely a precondition for his siege. But, I suggest,  it is very likely the spark that lit the fuse for Monis’ siege at the Lindt cafe was in fact his loss on the technical, legal point in the High Court.

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About the Author

Max Wallace is vice-president of the Rationalists Assn of NSW and a council member of the New Zealand Assn of Rationalists and Humanists.

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