Federal government to consider Lindt Cafe siege findings

The federal government will consider mandating all of its agencies to forward any correspondence that may raise national security concerns to ASIO.


It follows a recommendation made by NSW Coroner Michael Barnes, who delivered his findings into the deadly Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney on Wednesday.

The man responsible for the act of terror in December 2014, Man Haron Monis, wrote a number of letters to senior government figures between 2007 and 2014.

A letter addressed to Attorney-General George Brandis two months before the siege stated: “I would like to send a letter to Caliph Ibrahim, the leader of the Islamic State, in which making some comments and asking some questions. Please advise me whether the communication is legal or illegal.”

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The Monis letter was passed on to the attorney-general’s department’s national security law and policy division.

A month later senior official Karen Horsfall replied to Monis.

She noted Islamic State was listed as a terrorist organisation, but that the department did not provide legal advice and could not specifically address the legality of his proposed actions.

Mr Barnes, in his 495-page inquest report, said there did not appear to be an effective policy in place to require the commonwealth bureaucracy to forward concerning correspondence to ASIO.


He recommended the attorney-general develop a policy to ensure such letters should be referred to ASIO and an agency known as the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre – which currently only exists in Queensland.

“If the FTAC system had existed in NSW and Monis’ letter to the attorney general had been referred to it that letter could have been placed in its proper and complete context,” he said.

“That, in turn, would have permitted the hyperbolic escalation of Monis’ ‘warning behaviours’ to be identified and then addressed.”

Senator Brandis, addressing a Senate hearing on Wednesday, noted the coroner did not make any findings adverse to the Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police or ASIO but welcomed the constructive recommendations.

“The government will study (them) closely and as a matter of high priority, and which will be acted upon as appropriate,” he said.

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Senator Brandis said his department had routinely referred correspondence that might raise national security concerns to ASIO – at his behest – since 2015.

“In light of the coroner’s recommendation, we will, of course, consider whether to extend such procedures more broadly across government.”

The hearing was told that, following a Senate inquiry in 2015, officers from his department sought assurances from other agencies that they have procedures in place to deal with letters of that kind.

But they did not mandate a policy to be deployed across government.

Earlier, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull assured Australians that agencies were working tirelessly to keep them safe.

“We do that by destroying Daesh in the field in the Middle East and by destroying their networks here at home,” he told parliament.

“We continue to use every avenue available at our disposal, providing additional resources whether they be financial or legal, whether it relate to signals intelligence or human intelligence or hard power.”

Since September 2014, when the threat level was raised to probable, there had been 64 arrests for terrorism offences and 12 major plots disrupted.


Tasmanian MPs vote down euthanasia bill

Despite passionate support from some Tasmanian MPs, a bid to legalise voluntary euthanasia has failed in the state’s lower house.


Parliamentarians spent hours outlining reasons for and against the legislation with a conscience vote late on Wednesday night defeating the move.

The final count was eight in favour and 16 against.

Liberal premier Will Hodgman was one of those to oppose the bill but insisted members of his party voted with their heart, and indeed one – Nic Street – was among the ayes.

“It is a very confronting and challenging issue and I have no fear in saying that I am personally very confronted by it and very conflicted,” Mr Hodgman said.

“We are all being asked, in fact challenged, by some people in this place to make a decision on this bill and I will: I can’t support it.

“It contains significant shortcomings, (which) emphasise the difficulty in constructing a framework to safely provide for voluntary assisted dying.”

Opposition Labor MP Lara Giddings and state Greens leader Cassy O’Connor jointly authored the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, with the latter using the death of her father as an example.

Shane O’Connor, 78, a former state press gallery journalist, died in early May from melanoma.

“I thanked him in that very brief window of hospital days before he was sedated into pharmacological oblivion,” Ms O’Connor said.

While grateful for the chance to say goodbye she said her dad’s final days could have been different if he had the option to end his life.

“I don’t know what dad would have said if given the choice but he wasn’t asked.”

The bill had proposed an avenue for Tasmanians with an eligible medical condition, who are judged competent, access to a lethal drug to end their life.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said it would leave vulnerable people exposed to exploitation and remove protections safeguarding the sanctity of life.

“This is in fact a dangerous bill that will in fact create a different group of cruel tragedies,” he said.

“We’ve said every suicide is too many yet before us is a bill that would sanction suicide.”

Former Tasmanian premier Ms Giddings stressed the proposed law would act as a last resort for people suffering intolerable pain.

“You can only access this pathway when all other care and treatment options have been exhausted,” she said.

In many cases palliative care options were failing patients, who were being subjected to “state-sanctioned torture” that prevented them from ending their lives with dignity, she added.

Three of Ms Giddings’ Labor colleagues voted against the bill.

Senior Liberal Rene Hidding said the proposed legislation was fundamentally flawed.

“You might shoot dogs and horses but you can’t treat humans like they are suffering animals,” he said.

Parliaments in NSW and Victoria recently considered similar legislation amid growing public support for euthanasia rights.

Outside Tasmania’s parliament, people holding banners such as ‘My life, my choice’ rallied in support of legalising euthanasia.

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

‘Sing with the angels’: More victims named in the Manchester attack

Here is what we know so far about the victims of the terror attack, the deadliest in Britain since the 2005 London bombings.


‘Sing with the angels’

Olivia Campbell, 15, has been named as a victim of the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester attack.

Her mother, Charlotte Campbell, paid tribute to her on Facebook saying: “go sing with the angels”.

Post by Charlotte Campbell.

‘Beautiful little girl’  

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland, a town in Lancashire, northwest England, is so far the youngest named fatality.

She attended the concert with her mother and older sister. Friends said they were both being treated for their injuries in hospital.

Chris Upton, headteacher at the Tarleton Community Primary School, described Saffie as “a beautiful little girl in every sense of the word”.

“She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was quiet and unassuming with a creative flair,” he said.

“The thought that anyone could go out to a concert and not come home is heartbreaking.”

Saffie Rose Roussos, one of the victims of a attack at Manchester Arena, in Manchester England which left more than twenty dead on Monday. PA via AP

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The death of Georgina Callander, believed to be 18, was confirmed by her school, the Runshaw College Sixth Form Centre in Lancashire.

“It is with enormous sadness that it appears that one of the people who lost their lives in Monday’s Manchester attack was one of our students here,” the school said, adding that she had been studying health and social care.

Her former school, Bishop Rawstorne Church of England Academy, added: “Georgina was a lovely young student who was very popular with her peers and the staff and always made the most of the opportunities she had at the school.

“All of our students will gather together today for a time of prayer and reflection and to give thanks for the life of Georgina.”

An image of Georgina Callander on a Go Fund Me page set up to help her family pay for funeral costs.GoFundMe

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John Atkinson, 26, from Bury in Lancashire, was named by friends as one of those killed.

His Facebook account has been “memorialised” — a process only made possible by verified family members contacting the website directly.

John was “one in a million and loved by so many,” wrote Hayley Turk, who organised an online fund for his family.

“A true gentleman,” she added.

John Atkinson’s image on a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for his funeral costs.GoFundMe

Polish couple

In a Facebook post soon after the attack, York College student Alex Klis made a plea to help find her parents, Angelika and Marcin Klis.

“If anyone comes across my parents please, please let me know as they’ve been missing ever since the attack, this is a picture taken tonight so this is exactly what they were wearing,” she wrote.

Polish parents died in the suicide attack in the English city of Manchester, Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski confirmed on Wednesday.

“The parents came after the concert to collect their daughters and unfortunately we have information that they are dead,” Waszczykowski told private radio RMF FM.

“The children are safe.” 


Two mums

Alison Howe and her friend Lisa Lees, who arrived at the arena to pick up their children, have been named victims.

Ms Howe’s stepson Jordan Howe posted a photo of her on Facebook, saying: “They took a caring beautiful mum and stepmother away from us all she was amazing to us all x love you loads Alison Howe xx.”

Lee Hunter, the brother of Lisa Lees, posted to Facebook: ‘For those who don’t know, Lisa is gone but never ever forgotten.

“I love you Lisa, I’ll miss you so much.”

An earlier Facebook post by Lisa Lees’ daughter, Lauren Ashleigh Lees, shared a photo of her before her death had been confirmed:

“Recent picture of my mum, she’s no longer blonde like the photo originally shared.

“We are all really worried, still haven’t heard a thing, thank you all for your amazing support.”


‘You died a hero’

Kelly Brewster, 32, is another victim of the terror incident. 

She helped protect her niece, Hollie Booth, who broke two legs during the attack, and her sister Claire Booth, according to Hollie’s grandmother Tracy Booth.

“Would just like to say Kelly Brewster, you died a hero,” Tracy Booth wrote on Facebook.

“You saved your sister Claire Booth and my granddaughter Hollie Booth, so Kelly, you fly high with the angels.”


“We got the news last night that our wonderful, iconic and beautiful Martyn didn’t survive,” Mr Hayward wrote.

“Thankfully I have his wonderful family and amazing friends to keep each other strong.”


59 wounded

Among the scores of wounded who were treated at Manchester Arena after the attack, 59 people were taken to hospital, including 12 children under the age of 16.

There were also walking wounded who presented themselves at Manchester hospitals.

“There are a number of individuals who have very, very serious injuries and are requiring intensive care and people who are going to be in hospital for a long time,” said David Ratcliffe, medical director of the North West Ambulance Service.

In a statement outside Downing Street on Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May said that many of the wounded were being treated for “life-threatening conditions”.


The Manchester Evening News, the city’s main newspaper, launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the families of those affected by the attack.

The fund had raised more than £500,000 ($650,000, 580,000 euros) by 1800 GMT Tuesday.

Crowdfunding was also under way for individual victims, and for a homeless man begging at the venue who cradled a woman who died in his arms.

Pope asks Trump to be peacemaker

Pope Francis has urged US President Donald Trump to be a peacemaker at their highly anticipated first meeting, and Trump promised he wouldn’t forget the pontiff’s message.


Under clear blue skies, Trump, who exchanged sharp words with the Pope during the US election campaign last year, received a tribute from the Swiss Guard in a Vatican courtyard when he arrived.

He entered a small elevator taking him to the third floor of the Apostolic Palace and, after a long ceremonial walk past frescoed corridors, shook the Pope’s hand at the entrance to the private study, which the frugal pontiff uses only for official occasions.

Before the door of the wood-lined elevator closed, a Vatican protocol official was heard quipping to the president that it was not “like Trump Tower in New York”.

Francis smiled faintly as he greeted Trump outside the study and was not as outgoing as he sometimes is with visiting heads of state. Trump, seeming subdued, said “it is a great honour”.

Even when the two were sitting at the Pope’s desk in the presence of photographers and reporters, the Pope avoided the small talk that usually occurs before the media is ushered out.

The two talked privately for about 30 minutes with translators.

Both men looked far more relaxed at the end of the private meeting, with the Pope smiling and joking with Trump and his wife Melania.

Francis’s interpreter could be heard translating a comment by the Pope to the First Lady: “What do you give him to eat?”

Francis then gave the president a small sculptured olive tree and told him through the interpreter that it symbolised peace.

“It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace,” the Pope said, speaking in Spanish.

Trump responded: “We can use peace.”

Francis also gave Trump a signed copy of his 2017 peace message whose title is Nonviolence – A Style of Politics for Peace, and a copy of his 2015 encyclical letter on the need to protect the environment from the effects of climate change.

“Well, I’ll be reading them,” Trump said.

During his election campaign, Trump described as a hoax scientific findings that human economic activity contributed to global warming. As president, he has proposed deep cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and the elimination of many environmental regulations.

Trump gave the Pope a boxed set of five first-edition books by murdered US civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

As Trump and the Pope said goodbye at the door of the study, Trump told the Pope: “Thank you, thank you. I won’t forget what you said.”

Asked how the meeting with the Pope went, Trump said: “Great. He is something. He is really good. We had a fantastic meeting.”

Bombers consider making AFL bid for Martin

Essendon have confirmed they are considering a bid for Richmond star Dustin Martin when he becomes an AFL free agent at the end of the season.


The Bombers’ potential interest in Martin comes as the AFL weighs up relaxing the rules surrounding free agency.

Any changes to free agency would be part of the new players pay agreement, which is understood to be close.

Martin and Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe are the biggest names among the players who become eligible for free agency at the end of the 2017 campaign.

St Kilda and North Melbourne have also been linked to Martin.

Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell said on Wednesday that their list management committee were considering a range of potential targets.

He admitted that they are keen to see how the scenario unfolds with Martin, but added it was “very preliminary stages”.

“We’re open to exploring all those ways that we can add value to our list, and we’ll continue those discussions,” Campbell told SEN.

“We certainly haven’t been to the point where it (going after Martin) has been raised anywhere outside list management or certainly at a board level – when it gets to the free agency market, that’s a pretty pivotal part of the process.

“Dustin’s a super talent and he’s a genuine match-winner, and we’ll see what happens.”

Also on Wednesday, The Age reported that the players association is pushing for free agency changes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

One proposal is free agency for life, where a player remains eligible after eight years in the game, no matter how many years he has been at a club.