Urgent security review ordered after tragic Martin Place siege


Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New South Wales Premier Mike Baird have announced an urgent joint federal and state probe into the Lindt café siege in Sydney’s Martin Place this week which resulted in the death of two hostages and the fatal shooting by police of gunman and hostage taker Man Haron Monis.

Hostages Tori Johnson, manager of the café and barrister Katrina Dawson both died as a result of the siege that lasted for almost 17 hours until specialist operations police stormed the building after gunshots were heard following the escape of some hostages.

The review comes after it emerged that the Iranian born gunman was already extensively known to both police and intelligence agencies for his extreme views and was on bail for a large number of alleged offences ranging from being an accessory before and after a murder as well as sexual assaults.

Man Haron Monis had previously come to the attention of national security agencies because of extensive his letter writing campaigns that included sending deeply offensive letters to the relatives of both military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and a highly respected government official killed in a terrorist bomb blast at the Jakarta Marriot hotel in Indonesia in July 2009.

Man Haron Monis was charged in relation to the hate letter campaign and subsequently convicted of using a carriage service to menace people.

The Prime Minister on Thursday conceded that Man Haron Monis had dropped off intelligence watch lists of potentially dangerous individuals considered to pose a threat of violence to the community usually monitored by agencies.

The incident has raised logical questions as to whether so-called ‘control orders’ that give security agencies the powers to detain or heavily restrict the movements of people to prevent terrorist incidents occurring could and should have been used when they were not.

“The Commonwealth and New South Wales governments will urgently conduct a review into the Martin Place siege and what lessons can be learned from the events leading up to and surrounding the siege,” the joint statement from Mr Abbott and Mr Baird said.

“The review will examine and make recommendations about a wide range of issues including the circumstances surrounding hostage-taker Man Haron Monis’ arrival in Australia and subsequent granting of asylum and citizenship; what information agencies had about him and how it was shared; and whether relevant national security legislative powers could have been better used.”

The Prime Minister and NSW Premier said that the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Secretary of the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet have been asked to “commence the review immediately, drawing on expertise from within our relevant jurisdictions and consulting as necessary with other States and Territories.”

A report is due back to the PM and the Premier by January 2015.

The terms of reference for the probe are as follows:

Martin Place Siege – Terms of Reference*

On 17 December 2014 the Prime Minister and Premier of NSW established a review, for consideration by the Commonwealth and NSW Cabinets, of lessons learnt from the Martin Place Siege of 15-16 December 2014.

The aim of the review is to identify lessons for the future: what worked well and what might be improved.

The review will examine and make recommendations in respect of Commonwealth and NSW agencies and the cooperation between them, in relation to:

•    the arrival of Man Haron Monis in Australia and subsequent grant of asylum, permanent residency and Australian citizenship;
•    support received from, or any other interactions Man Haron Monis had with, government social support agencies;
•    information held by Commonwealth and NSW agencies about Man Haron Monis for the period prior to and following his arrival in Australia up until the siege including how any information relevant to public safety was shared between, and used by, agencies;
•    the interaction of Man Haron Monis with the NSW justice system;
•    Man Haron Monis’ access to firearms;
•    whether, how and at what stage relevant national security legislative powers including Control Orders were or could have been used in relation to Man Haron Monis’ activities of security concern;
•    any lessons learnt by the NSW and Australian Federal Police about the handling of the siege;
•    the effectiveness of public communication including coordination of messaging between the Commonwealth, NSW and jurisdictions; and
•    the effectiveness of coordination more generally between the Commonwealth and NSW.

The review will take account of the parallel investigations into the incident including by the NSW State Coroner, and NSW Police and Australian Federal Police.

The review will prepare a report for consideration by the Commonwealth and NSW Cabinets by the end of January 2015.

[* Source: Prime Minister’s Office]

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