90,000 sign petition to toughen up bail laws after siege

MORE than 89,000 people have signed an online petition calling for tougher bail laws in NSW which may have prevented the Martin Place killings on Tuesday.

Man Haron Monis was out on bail facing dozens of sexual assault and an accessory to murder charge when he took 17 hostages in a cafe in Sydney's city-centre.

NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard has publicly stated an investigation was needed to see how Monis "slipped through the cracks" and "did not come to the attention of state and federal agencies for more urgent action".

A tightening of bail laws is already underway in NSW, but is not expected to come into effect until next month.
 

Mr Hazzard said he believed the new-look legislation would have kept the killer under judiciary lock and key had they been implemented sooner.

"It's very frustrating for us," he said.

"It's frustrating for me as Attorney-General, it's frustrating for the Premier, it's frustrating for the entire Government, it's frustrating for the entire New South Wales community."
 


Whether the new laws could have prevented Monis carrying out his murderous fanaticism is still up for debate.

Either way, they will have come too late for Tori Johnson, Katrina Dawson and the 15 surviving hostages whose lives have forever been transformed.

Too late, too, for the millions of Australians who watched on as the terror unfolded.
 

Floral tributes are being placed near the Lindt Chocolate café in central Sydney's Martin Place
Floral tributes are being placed near the Lindt Chocolate café in central Sydney's Martin Place

 

A Change.org petition to NSW Premier Mike Baird has already garnered more than 88,000 signatures since starting on Tuesday and is growing by the minute.

The two Sydney women behind the petition, Sarah Langston and Dr Miriam Giugni, wrote:

"Bail laws were meant to have been changed already, but 'administrative bungles' have stalled them until late January.

"That's not good enough.

"We need stronger bail laws that would have kept this dangerous man behind bars right now".

The NSW Bail Act was changed in June and again in September, though its effects will not be felt until January.

NSW Bar Association president Ros Everett applauded the State Government for its June legislation changes, saying it balanced community protection with the preservation of legal rights.

"Until a person is convicted there must be a presumption of innocence, this is a fundamental legal right. The system is not intended to constitute a form of punishment prior to trial," she said.
 

The scene changed starkly within just four months, when the stricter bail conditions promised by the NSW Attorney-General were brought in.

Man Monis, also known as Sheik Haron leaves the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney in 2010.
Man Monis, also known as Sheik Haron leaves the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney in 2010.

Ms Everett slammed the government for "pushing through" laws she said undermined the fundamental principle of "innocent until proven guilty".

"Unfortunately this is a return to the reactive approach which has historically dominated the debate on bail in NSW," Ms Everett said.

"This new law appears to be in response to a small number of individual bail decisions which were met with criticism from the media.

"This style of law-making increases the risk of unintended consequences in the system.

The New South Wales Bar Association has declined to comment out of respect for the family of Ms Dawson, who was a well-known Sydney barrister.

Further comment has been sought from the NSW Law Society.

-APN NEWSDESK



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