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Bourke Street attacker identified as police raid Melbourne properties

As Victoria Police raid properties in Melbourne's north and west following yesterday's ter..

As Victoria Police raid properties in Melbourne's north and west following yesterday's terrorism attack, the identity of the man who carried out the fatal stabbing in Bourke Street has been confirmed as Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.

Key points:

  • Three people were stabbed in the attack; one died on the scene and two are in hospital
  • Properties in Werribee and Meadows Heights have been raided by police
  • Authorities said there would be an increased police presence around the Melbourne CBD

The Somali-born man, aged in his early 30s, crashed his car loaded with gas bottles in the Melbourne CBD and stabbed three people before he was shot by police and died in hospital.

The ABC understands he is also known as Hassan Ali and Hassan Khalif, and recently moved from his family's Werribee home because of problems with substance abuse.

His family is well-known and respected within the Somali community in the region, and attended the Virgin Mary Mosque in Hoppers Crossing.

It is believed Shire Ali most commonly attended prayer in Melbourne's northern suburbs.

Shire Ali is understood to have previously been investigated for his association with others linked to terrorism.

Police also said in a statement that investigators were "executing search warrants at two addresses in Werribee and Meadows Heights".

Police were confronted by a knife-wielding man after responding to a car fire.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton last night confirmed Shire Ali died in hospital, and that he was known to intelligence authorities.

One man, who is yet to be formally identified, died at the scene after the stabbing.

A 26-year-old man is in a stable condition in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, while a 58-year-old also remains in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Authorities said there would be an increased police presence around the Melbourne CBD and at major events in the coming days so the public could feel comfortable going about their business, but they did not believe there was an ongoing threat.

Victoria Police officers cordon off a road with flames in the background.

Police courage praised

Police are treating the attack as terror-related at this stage, and counter-terrorism investigations are continuing into Shire Ali's background.

Mr Ashton said he believed the suspect moved to Australia from Somalia in 1990s, and that his family members have been known to police on terrorism-related matters.

Police treating Bourke Street attack as terrorism

Mr Ashton said the Myer department store's Christmas windows opened last night and other key events were being held this weekend, and he said there was "no ongoing threat at the moment".

"We have a number of events going on in Melbourne, Stakes day at Flemington, soccer at AAMI Stadium and also Remembrance Day so we are doing security reassessments in light of those events.

"At this stage we are encouraging people to go to those events and there will be additional police over the weekend."

A line of uniformed police in central Melbourne.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews strongly condemned yesterday's attack and thanked police as well as bystanders who courageously stepped in to try to help.

"This is an evil and terrifying thing that has happened in our city and state today and we condemn it," the Premier said.

External Link: Daniel Andrews tweet

"Victorians can be assured that every member of Victoria Police … are equal to the task and will do everything they can in any circumstance to keep Victorians safe."

Victoria's Opposition Leader Matthew Guy also denounced the attack.

"I'll never accept that violent extremism should be a way of life for a big city like Melbourne," he said.

"All the resources of our state should be directed towards keeping Victorians safe. Victorians would say we do not have to live like this."

In a statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he condemned the act of terrorism in Melbourne, describing it as an "evil and cowardly attack".

He said he had been briefed by law enforcement and security agencies and acknowledged the investigation by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, led by Victoria Police.

"Australians will never be intimidated by these appalling attacks and we will continue to go about our lives and enjoy the freedoms that the terrorists detest," he said.

'Don't let fear dictate'

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Road blocks in the area are expected to remain in place until at least mid-morning and members of the public are asked to avoid the area on Bourke Street between Russell and Swanston Streets.

Police have asked the public to submit any images or video footage of the attack to help them with their investigation.

Authorities said it was normal for people to have strong emotional or physical reactions after such a distressing or frightening event, and people should seek help from their doctor or by calling a helpline if they needed support.

Melbourne's Lord Mayor Sally Capp sought to reassure the public and praised the police for their swift response.

"Melburnians should feel reassured of the swift reaction from our police and emergency services who were so quickly, effectively and bravely at the scene dealing with the situation and minimising harm to the public," she said.

"I hope that we can pull together as a community to really support each other."

Trauma specialist Rob Gordon urged the Melbourne community to learn from the incident and be aware of dangers, but to also not let fear dictate.

"We need to understand and become familiar with risks and hazards," Dr Gordon said.

"Unfortunately the present time has got hazards of this sort where people take in to their minds to attack innocent people.

"It's very important to recognise that we live with all sorts of hazards but we do it successfully by being aware and understanding and careful.

"Fear doesn't help you get more prepared — it makes you jump at shadows and then you tend to get overwhelmed or exhausted and then you shut off."

Close up shot of a lamp post with blue and white signs for Bourke and Swanston streets on it

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Why are Tory rebels pushing for a confidence vote they might not win?

What will happen if Conservative MPs manage to trigger a vote of no confidence in Theresa May? As th..

What will happen if Conservative MPs manage to trigger a vote of no confidence in Theresa May? As the letters to 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady stack up, that is the question members of the European Research Group are considering this evening.

Until the contents of the prime ministers draft Brexit deal were revealed yesterday, the received wisdom and public preference of senior members of the ERG was that they had the numbers to force a change in policy, not personnel, and should work to that end. By the time Cabinet met yesterday, that logic had given way to resignation that it was no longer possible to prevail upon May to change course and that a confidence vote was the only way to go.

Government sources are struck by their change in tune – and by the very public way in which Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker announced it earlier. It was only a month ago that Baker, who is essentially the ERGs chief whip, said the numbers to force a change in leader simply did not exist. The reasonable suspicion on the part of those still loyal to the prime minister is that he would not have licensed the attack were he not sure that the rebels could not at least hit the 48 needed to trigger a confidence vote.

Will they? The first thing to note is that the ERG is not as coherent a group as it is often portrayed as, and not all of its members believe that a vote of no confidence is necessarily the right gambit. Members of its WhatsApp group note that some of its veterans are urging caution – Bernard Jenkin, for instance, has told colleagues to be “lucid and calm”, while Edward Leigh has refused to submit a letter and says Mays deal should be defeated in parliament.

One cool-headed member, however, says proponents of that strand of opinion are very much in the minority. They reckon conciliatory voices are outnumbered “ten to one” by those congratulating those who have quit government posts and calling for the submission of letters to Brady. It remains to be seen whether that means the rebels will actually end up hitting the threshold. But what today has made clear is that we are much closer to it happening than at any point in recent months. If it doesnt, then Mays position will look much stronger, even if her majority remains non-existent and the chances of no deal remain non-trivial and rising.

Separate to all of that is the more pressing question of whether May would win a confidence vote. A simple majority is all that would be needed for her to do so, and most Tory MPs still think she could clear that bar, even if, as some loyalists predict, a not insignificant number of the payroll votes against the prime minister along with the rebels. Asked whether the numbers exist to win the confidence vote, a source close to Baker says: “I cannot be sure.”

For the ERG leadership, though, the real victory would be demonstrating conclusively that Mays Withdrawal Agreement did not have a chance of passing parliament. Arguably, hitting 48 would do that, as there is no way that 58 Labour MPs will vote for Mays deal and cancel out those votes and the 10 of the DUP.

The prime minister has insisted that she will fight on should she win the ensuing ballot. But one ally of David Davis says its result, even if it fell short of 50 per cent, would serve to illustrate the number of MPs willing to go “on strike” should she do so. Many are convinced that her position would be just as untenable, especially if the number of votes against her hit treble figures (the gamble, of course, is that May would decline the opportunity to take advantage of her years immunity by returning to Brussels after a first defeat and seeking a deal that Labour could vote for). They could well be right. But first, they will need to trigger a vote.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent.

(more…)

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In one letter, Esther McVey misleads us seven times over the DWPs impact on minorities

Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary who resigned over the Brexit deal this morning, depart..

Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary who resigned over the Brexit deal this morning, departed in true DWP style: disingenuously.

After her argument against Theresa Mays draft withdrawal agreement, the departing cabinet minister listed her “achievements” at the Department towards the end of her letter:

Earlier this morning I informed the Prime Minister I was resigning from her Cabinet pic.twitter.com/ZeBkL5n2xH

— Esther McVey (@EstherMcVey1) November 15, 2018

​“It has been a huge honour to serve as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, and I am immensely proud of the part I have played in the record levels of employment we have seen in all parts of the UK.

“Youth unemployment has halved since 2010, and we now have record number of women and BAME in work and since 2013, 973,000 more disabled people in work.

“With employment over 3.3million more than in 2010 we have helped 1,000 more people into work each and every day since we took office.”

Lets take a closer look at these boasts, shall we?

1. “Record levels of employment”

Well, employment did reach a record high this year. The unemployment rate is at its lowest since the Seventies. Sound good?

These figures disguise the increasingly precarious nature of work for British people. Last November, the number of people who did not have enough work, who were on temporary or zero-hours contracts, or who were classed as “self-employed” but actually only working for one employer still remained higher than before the 2008 crash. (more…)

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Theresa May prolongs her Brexit crisis as she insists nothing has changed

Nothing has changed. That, in short, is Theresa Mays holding line. Despite a string of ministerial r..

Nothing has changed. That, in short, is Theresa Mays holding line. Despite a string of ministerial resignations and an imminent confidence vote in her leadership, the Prime Minister has signalled her intention to fight on.

Addressing reporters at Downing Street, May – who appears to be occupying a different plane of reality to the rest of Westminster – insisted that her deal was in the national interest and still represented “a Brexit that delivers on the priorities of the British people”.

She might think so, but as far as its chances of passing parliament are concerned, that is irrelevant: what matters is that the DUP, several dozen of her Tory colleagues and the vast majority of the Labour Party disagree with her.

Mays wilful refusal to engage with that fundamental truth stood out. She repeatedly insisted that she was in the business of taking the right decisions, rather than the easy ones, and again attempted to frame her deal as the only one that could possibly meet her own red lines, and protect jobs and the Union. This Brexit, or no Brexit. Her survival is its survival.

Despite an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary, she has staked everything on convincing people who have hitherto shown absolutely no side of wanting – or, as far as their political self-interest goes, needing – to be convinced. The fundamental irony of this approach is that it is likely to only strengthen the resolve of her internal critics, hasten a leadership challenge, and see the time and energy of parliament wasted on voting on a deal that will inevitably be rejected. And all that will do is prolong a crisis that, far from protecting the national interest, looks increasingly likely to end in Britain crashing out without a deal.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent.

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