POLITICS

Turnbull Calls For Changes To Parole To Combat Terrorism

'How was this man on parole?' PM asks of Melbourne gunman.

06/06/2017 9:51 AM AEST | Updated 06/06/2017 12:00 PM AEST

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has signalled he will push for changes to parole conditions nationwide, as it was revealed the gunman in the Melbourne siege had been released on parole.

Police shot dead gunman Yacqub Khayre, 29, at an apartment block in Brighton around 6pm on Monday, ending a two-hour hostage situation and rescuing a woman who was held captive. Police had earlier found the building's attendant shot dead in the foyer.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the man had a "criminal history going back many years".

"I describe it as an extensive criminal history involving a whole range of offences. He has recently done some jail time, got out late last year, and has been on parole at the time of this offending last night," he told ABC on Tuesday.

Responding to the incident on Tuesday, Turnbull said there were "some very, very grave questions" to be asked around the incident, including the gunman's parole status.

"I have raised these today with the Victorian Premier, whom I called last night and I called again this morning. How was this man on parole?" Turnbull said.

"He had been charged with a terrorist offence some years ago and had been acquitted. He was known to have connections, at least in the past, with violent extremism. But he was a known, violent offender. How was he on parole?"

The PM signalled that the parole issue would be raised at the next COAG meeting with state and territory premiers and chief ministers on Friday.

Earlier, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews defended the state's parole laws, which he called "the toughest parole review system anywhere in Australia", saying the gunman had complied with all the conditions of his release until Monday night.

"I would make the point that he had served significant jail term and become eligible for parole at a later point than he might have hoped because his sentence had been increased because of poor behaviour... He's been compliant, including drug tests, attending appointments and observing a curfew," Andrews said.

"As with all of these matters, though, we'll look at each and every element of in act and if there are learnings and improvements that can be made, we stand ready to do that."

"The important thing to note is that not only was he eligible and received parole but it would appear on advice to this point that he'd been compliant with the terms and conditions of the parole granted to him."

"I will get a report from my counter terrorism coordinator and we will discuss a number of issues in relation to terrorism, including the protection of places of mass gathering, which has been a key priority work that is going on at the moment. But this issue of parole has to be addressed. There have been too many cases of people on parole committing violent offences of this kind," Turnbull said.

"We now need to address this issue of parole. That will be a high priority at the COAG meeting."

The PM raised the case of Lindt cafe gunman Man Monis, who was on parole at the time of the Sydney siege.

"These are important issues and Australians need to be assured that people who are a threat to their safety are not being released on parole," he said.

"More investigations and explanations will be given, but plainly it is very hard, I think, to understand why [Khayre] was released on parole given the nature of his record and the nature of his offence."

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