The Daily Telegraph has taken the running in reporting the wash-up to the Sydney Muslim riots from last year.
This story ran in the weekend papers, with a follow up here today. Just amazing that the riotous hooliganism is met with this response from the bench.Life on the pension is a riot for Omar
- by: PETER BODKIN & CLEMENTINE CUNEO
- From:The Daily Telegraph
- January 22, 201312:00AM
The 19-year-old from Padstow last week escaped with a good-behaviour bond for his role in September's violent Muslim protest in the CBD - partly because of remorse, his previous clean record and health issues he suffers that include sporting injuries and literacy problems.
When The Daily Telegraph visited his home yesterday, Halaby did not wish to talk about his reasons for claiming the pension. His father also refused to comment.
In documents tendered to the Downing Centre Local Court, Legal Aid lawyer Sophie Edin said Halaby suffered from "certain disabilities" which had seen him claim the pension for the past three years."He has some physical problems in relation to some football accidents," Ms Edin told the court. "He has literacy issues, a short attention span, things to that effect."
Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin yesterday defended the eligibility criteria of the disability support pension, which can be paid up to a rate of $712 a fortnight, compared to the dole at $492.
A spokeswoman for Ms Macklin said recipients were forced to meet strict criteria to claim the disability pension.
"People do not qualify for the disability support pension because they are illiterate," the spokeswoman said. "To be eligible for the disability support pension a person must have a permanent disability or medical conditions that make them unable to work."
About 820,000 people are on the disability pension, costing $15 billion a year, which is predicted to balloon to $16.9 billion by 2015-16.
Halaby lives with his parents but, according to court documents, pays no board from his $200-a-fortnight taxpayer-funded allowance. He is not involved in any studies or community organisations, the documents said.
In court, Halaby said he was sorry for his actions and confirmed he had paid compensation to the police for the smashed windscreen.
Muslim community leader Keysar Trad said he was not aware of the nature of Halaby's disability but claimed it was often difficult for Muslims to find employment, even if they were able-bodied.
"If you have any name that is Middle Eastern or Islamic, you'll often find you don't get past the interview stage," Mr Trad said.
"We encourage all people to find gainful employment to both contribute to society and to improve their skills, but sometimes that is harder for Muslim people."
He said the riots were an "ugly time in our history".
But he said Muslim community leaders had taken steps to prevent a repeat of such a disgraceful episode.