There can be consolation in disappointment, although it sometimes requires a moment’s reflection to locate the pony in a room full of the most malodourous manure — in this case the bipedal ordure known as Abdul Nacer Benbrika (above). For those whose memories have faded, the imam was arrested in 2005 with 16 of his acolytes and convicted three years later of planning attacks on numerous targets, including the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, the AFL Grand Final and, swept away by vaulting jihadist ambition, the assassination of the infidel John Howard. At his Melbourne trial Benbrika made his contempt for Australia manifest. Rejecting any authority but Allah, he refused to stand when the judge entered or left the courtroom and thus put his contempt on the record for the institutions of the country that granted him residency in 1989 and citizenship nine years later.
Today the High Court ruled Benbrika is an Australian citizen — and an Australian citizen he must remain. The judgment, which can be read in full here, hangs on the majority view that stripping him of his Australian passport, as did then-minister Peter Dutton in 2020, violates the Constitution because only the courts, never a minister, can impose punishment, which the stripping of his citizenship was deemed to be.
So, like it or not, this preacher of homicidal hatreds can’t be packed off back to Algeria, where he also remains a citizen. A cheerful note is that, despite completing his sentence, Benbrika remains a bottled spider, held indefinitely in a maximum security lockup as an acknowledged danger to the country. Some will regret that bread, water and a touch of the cat are no longer part of the hard-cell treatment; warm surroundings, a comfy mattress and halal tucker must suffice.
But there’s a perhaps less obvious upside to the result of High Court’s deliberations, one that demands to be framed in memories of the past few years. Here thoughts turn to a general practitioner of my acquaintance — no name, he has been through enough — who copped grief from the authorities during the great COVID panicdemic. His offence was to advocate treating the Wuhan virus with ivermectin, which at the time was neither opinion nor option tolerated by bureaucrats and lawmakers. The Therapeutic Goods Administration, many will recall, almost immediately banned its prescription, with professional medical bodies no less adamant that the cheap, affordable and effective off-patent drug* was not to be advocated. So monolithic was the consensus of those who presume to know better and are empowered to enforce those views that the Pharmacy Guild instructed its members not to dispense ivermectin even when presented with a doctor’s prescription. That’s how crazy things became: pill-counting vendors of corn plasters and jellybeans were allowed to police the doctor/patient relationship
Well, my friend the medico hails from a foreign land, was at odds with official opinion and thus might have been decreed a menace to his fellow Australians. As he is in Victoria, it is also conceivable to imagine him charged by then-premier Dan Andrews’ praetorian guard, aka Victoria Police, and appearing in the dock before a Labor clubhouse judge. Convicted as a threat to the safety of the public, the same reason reason Benbrika remains behind bars, what might have stopped a stroke of the ministerial pen sending the dissident doctor on a one-way trip to Melbourne Airport?
Nothing, absolutely nothing if not for today’s High Court ruling.
The downside is that we’re stuck with Benbrika unless and until the Albanese government enacts what it has today promised would be legislation to tighten the law. Given form and the Albanese government’s limp and qualified condemnation of Hamas, it is reasonable to suspect few of Minister Tony Burke’s more volatile Lakemba constituents, plus those sure to arrive with the government’s 500,000-per-year population Ponzi scheme, will find reason to review their words, hatreds and conduct.
Just how the government intends to “strengthen” the citizenship laws has yet to be explained, but one amendment springs immediately to mind.
What, say, if citizenship came with a ten-year probation period? That would have snared Benbrika, already known as a firebrand when naturalised nine years after his arrival. It would likely also snare quite a few other troublesome members of the New Australian-criminal community.
But that would be sensible, so it won’t happen.
* The editor of this site came down with COVID in January 2022, confirmed by three RAT tests, and immediately began taking ivermectin, plus daily antibiotics and zinc supplements, all of which were packaged in a single sheet ordered from India. That was on Sunday night. By Friday, he was playing nine holes of golf. Sadly, whatever its other recommendations, ivermectin has no observable effect on a player’s handicap.