MARK RILEY: Bash victim Ninette Simons is the face of political and systemic failure

Headshot of Mark Riley
Mark Riley
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Ninette Simons and Philip Simons speak out after the shocking home invasion at their Girrawheen home.
Ninette Simons and Philip Simons speak out after the shocking home invasion at their Girrawheen home. Credit: The Nightly

Perth grandmother Ninette Simons’ injuries are difficult to look at.

But every legislator in Australia should take time today to make a long and deep examination of her confronting image.

Ninette Simons is the face of political and systemic failure.

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Every cut and bruise and contusion that brutalises the 73-year-old cancer patient’s complexion exposes the inability of our criminal justice, immigration detention and community safety systems to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.

Our political leaders at all levels need to do better to provide that protection.

They need to act.

And they need to act now.

There is justifiable outrage that one of the men accused of the crime that left Ninette in such a sickening state was among the 153 criminal detainees released into the community as a result of the High Court’s NZYQ decision in November.

That outrage has been magnified by revelations that Kuwaiti-born Majid Jamshidi Doukoshkan has also been bailed at least three times since his release.

The first and third of those occasions related to State criminal charges in WA for driving and trespassing offences.

The second of his appearances was for alleged Federal breaches of the strict visa conditions imposed on him on his release from detention.

The magistrate granted him bail with a warning that he was “on thin ice”.

But a monumental Federal Government stuff-up removed him from that precarious position.

Seven News revealed that the visas he and the other 152 detainees had been issued were invalid.

The Federal charges against him and nine others were immediately dropped.

Two who were being held in prison on remand were released that day.

The visas were invalid and, therefore, so too were any charges brought against their holders for breaching their conditions.

One of the trio accused of bashing a pensioner in WA is an immigration detainee released after a landmark High Court ruling. Pictured is victim Ninette Simons.
Ninette Simons after she was allegedly bashed . Credit: WA Police/TheWest

In the realm of political bungles, this was a whopper.

But there are questions, too, for the West Australian Government and its court system.

Why is it that a former criminal detainee was bailed twice on serious State charges within the space of just a few months, and once on Federal charges — albeit ones that were later withdrawn?

Majid Doukoshkan is entitled to the presumption of innocence on the charges relating to Ninette Simons.

Under our justice system, he will quite rightly get his day in court with appropriate legal representation.

But the court of public opinion requires answers at the same time to the broader questions about the adequacy or otherwise of the measures being put in place to protect vulnerable people like Mrs Simons.

The Opposition is again calling for Immigration Minister Andrew Giles and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neill to be sacked.

Neither has made any public statement while this controversy has been erupting.

The Opposition is demanding to know why none of the released detainees has been placed back in custody under a preventative detention order.

But they already know the answer to that.

Those orders are necessarily difficult to get and can only be considered by the courts after a long and involved application process.

The relevant minister, Mr Giles, has to first compile a detailed personal and security history of each individual as well as an exhaustive and independent psychological assessment.

That can take up to a year or more to complete.

Most of the necessary records are held in the illegal immigrants’ home countries and their governments are often unwilling to offer them up.

The court has a very high bar for issuing preventative detention orders.

That is as it should be.

These are extreme measures that severely restrict liberties on the presumption that something might happen at some time in the future.

The courts are being asked to exercise the wisdom of Solomon in determining not just that a person has the potential to commit future crimes but the intention of doing so.

Giles and O’Neill say through their spokespeople that they can’t comment on these issues for fear of prejudicing the case against Doukoshkan.

That is a cop-out.

Both are qualified lawyers who know very well how to speak to issues in the broad without cutting across the details of individual cases.

And now is a time when Australia needs to hear from them for reassurance.

It is a time when having reflected on what has happened to Ninette Simons, the ministers should be showing their own faces.

MARK RILEY IS SEVEN NETWORK POLITICAL EDITOR

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