Premier, top cop knew Bourke St attacker was on bail
Premier Daniel Andrews was aware the Bourke St terrorist was on bail the day after the attack but he did not reveal that to the public until media reports surfaced a week later.
Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton revealed police were aware "there was the possibility" Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was on bail the night of the attack, but he dodged the question when asked directly by a journalist hours after the incident.
"There was the possibility he was on bail because we think we had a court date but it was all pretty sketchy information,'' Mr Ashton told radio station 3AW.
But he said his main focus then was to investigate if Shire Ali had any accomplices who were planning to launch a further attack.
Mr Ashton said he told the Premier Shire Ali was on bail the Saturday morning after the attack.
But the government did not reveal Shire Ali's bail status until after it was revealed in media reports six days later.
It was revealed on Friday that Victoria Police had extended Shire Ali's bail for driving offences about four weeks before the attack, despite his failure to appear in court multiple times, and warrants having been issued for his arrest.
Mr Ashton said he "absolutely" backed the officer who bailed Shire Ali.
He said even if Shire Ali was flagged as a person of interest to security agencies, it would not have affected whether he got bail.
"Being a person of interest is not a criminal offence," Mr Ashton said.
Restaurateur Sisto Malaspina, 74, was killed and two other men were wounded in the November 9 terror attack on Bourke Street.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said police dealing with Shire Ali's driving offences were "absolutely right in all of the decisions they made".
"This individual had no history of violence. The chief commissioner has made clear that being a person of interest alone is not a crime. The politicisation of this tragedy has been really unbecoming," Mr Pakula said.
"If we were going to be remanding everyone for drive whilst suspended, there wouldn't be enough prisons to hold everyone."
Shadow Attorney-general John Pesutto said Shire Ali was known for having failed to appear in court, in breach of bail.
"That was known on the night of this tragedy and we were not told that as a Victorian people. "We should have been told that," he said.
Yesterday, Mr Pakula said that before the Bourke St attack Shire Ali's extremists leanings were the subject of an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation investigation.
"Unlike others, I won't criticise Victoria Police for bailing this individual or ASIO, who had responsibility for monitoring this person," Mr Pakula said to The Australian.
"Following his passport cancellation, federal authorities didn't refer this person for further investigation and Victoria Police officers dealing with his driving offences some years later had no knowledge of those matters.
"That is our advice and is entirely consistent with my previous comments,"
Shire Ali was shot by police and died in hospital.
Federal authorities cancelled his passport in 2015 amid concerns the Somali-born man would try to go to Syria to fight for Islamic State.