2nd June 2017
The Victorian Government has asked the state’s chief psychiatrist to urgently investigate the health care provided to a man who allegedly threatened to blow up a plane over Melbourne.
Police alleged the Sri Lankan national tried to enter the cockpit of Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday night while carrying what police described as a “speaker-type” object.
Marks, a catering student who was living in Dandenong, in Melbourne’s south-east, allegedly screamed that he had a bomb.
Police said Marks was released from a Monash heath facility just hours before boarding the flight to Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday night.
Victoria’s Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley said he had asked for an investigation into the care provided to Marks.
“Clearly a situation where a foreign national is released from our care and within a day is involved in a major security incident on an international flight is a pretty big red flag,” he said.
“That’s why I’ve asked the chief psychiatrist to get involved and provide and urgent report on what, if anything, needed to be done differently or could be done differently as to make sure this kind of situation does not occur again.
“Did the health service act in an appropriate way, or didn’t it?”
Mr Foley said a disproportionate number of people who come in contact with the criminal justice system also have mental health issues, and the Government was working to improve services and support.
“This is a long, historic, sad fact of our society. It’s a result of chronic intergenerational underinvestment. We have a long way to go in this space,” he said.
“We need to make sure that very small number who come in contact with the criminal justice system are supported and dealt with in such a way so as to keep them out of the mental health and criminal justice system,” he said.
“We need to make sure that we have the forensic support there that keeps them safe and keeps Victorians safe.”
Police to review response to MH128 bomb threat
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has defended the tactics but said there would be a full review into the incident, to see what lessons could be learned.
A number of passengers on board the plane have questioned why they were forced to wait 90 minutes on the tarmac for officers to board.
“[I have] absolute empathy for what they would have gone through being on the plane, but there were reasons for that,” he said.
It took 40 minutes for the Special Operations Group to arrive on the tarmac at Melbourne Airport.
Chief Commissioner Ashton quashed speculation special forces were delayed because they didn’t have their equipment on hand.
“They make acts of bravery look like an everyday trip to the milk bar, they’re so professional, and the thought of them fumbling around for equipment or things like that is just laughable,” he said.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy welcomed the review into how events unfolded on Wednesday night but said it must be made public.