OVER the past 48 hours there has been a lot of energy wasted debating the merits of the social media campaign #illridewithyou, which started in the middle of Monday’s siege.

The campaign urged people to tweet their public transport route and invite Muslim Australians in their neighbourhood to travel with them the following day to ensure their safety.

Many people thought it was a kindly gesture, others deemed it a guilt trip aimed at solving an illusory problem.

I didn’t really care about it either way. When I went to bed on Monday I did so hoping to wake to the news that the siege was over and that one man had surrendered or died — but, tragically, that was not the case.

Given this sickening result, the only ride which should be of real interest is the one which Man Haron Monis took us for during his 18 useless years in this country.

The Monis case is a spectacular failure on every level. It is a failure by the Immigration Department, a failure of the welfare system, a shocking failure of surveillance, a failure of our biggest State Parliament and a failure, most of all, by our criminally insipid courts.

It shows us for a bunch of saps in our determination to extend the hand of friendship and a suite of easily abused civil liberties to those who are consistently unfriendly and wholly uncivilised.

NOT JUST A CRACKPOT: Sheik Man Haron Monis’s protest at Lakemba train station.

NOT JUST A CRACKPOT: Sheik Man Haron Monis’s protest at Lakemba train station.

If there is one phrase that should be eliminated from the language it’s the assertion that “some good will come” from the most sickening and horrendous of events.

Just to be clear, no good has come, nor will come, from the events in Sydney this week. But there’s a number of things that should come from it on the grounds of public safety.

The first is a whole more forensic and hard-headed approach from the Immigration Department when it comes to verifying claims of asylum.

We now know (in fact the authorities had known for ages) that Man Haron Monis was a pathological liar whose claim that he was being persecuted in his Iranian homeland was almost definitely nonsense.

The Iranian State Department warned Australia about Monis before he arrived in the country almost 20 years ago after he stole $200,000 for bodgy tourist visas while working as a travel agent and was actually wanted on fraud charges when he was snowing us with his sob story about political persecution.

The second thing that should change is that there should be much closer links between the police and the welfare arm of government when it comes to underwriting the unproductive and potentially dangerous lethal existence of nuts such as Monis.

This man had been on the dole almost since he got here and while being subsidised by the taxpayer was delivering ranting sermons and sending monstrous letters to the widows of Diggers, his every stupid move paid for by us.

The third thing that must change is a total rethink of the grounds by which people are subjected to ongoing and close surveillance. It appears the police went easy on this guy because it had been concluded that he was some kind of harmless crackpot.

Surely being a crackpot is an essential precursor to this kind of activity, not a reason to look the other way.

I can readily think of at least three other men who, like Monis, have engaged with the Sydney news media over the past decade with all sorts of fundamentalist grandstanding.

And, like Monis, their behaviour could also be regarded as evidence that they’re just a bit nutty — until they turn up in a shop holding a gun, that is.

The parole question is the most disturbing of all. This is the terrorist equivalent of the Jill Meagher case, in which someone with such shocking priors was allowed to be on the streets because the parole board didn’t regard the threat they posed as serious, or the promised new parole laws hadn’t quite been passed yet, or some judge shrugged their shoulders and decided to give the defendant yet another chance.

It is the worst case of institutional failure you can imagine. We have all been taken for a ride by a bloke who sought sham sanctuary in a nation he hated and our institutions were dumb enough to let him get away with it, right up to the bloody, avoidable end.

Blog editors note

It appears that the event was trained for months previously