Kevin Rudd and Mark Dreyfus touring the new ASIO HQ in 2014
by Mary W Maxwell
I thought the hearings for the Inquest were finished, but apparently there was a directions hearing and smartie media knew about and attended (or got the report of it). So here is the bad news. I am quoting Jessica Kidd writing on September 7, 2016 at mobile.abc.net.au. The title of her article was the neutral sounding “ASIO’s role may never be publicly revealed”:
“It is expected the findings in relation to ASIO will be available to a select few. The findings arising from the coronial inquest into the Sydney siege will not be handed down until next year, New South Wales state coroner Michael Barnes has confirmed, but ASIO’s involvement will likely remain confidential.
“Mr Barnes said the inquest into the Lindt Cafe siege was one of the most complex in the state’s history, hearing evidence from 119 witnesses, during 23 weeks.
“A directions hearing heard the role that Australia’s spy agency ASIO played during the siege may never be publicly known. ASIO officers gave evidence about what contact they had with gunman Man Haron Monis prior to the siege in lengthy closed court hearings last year.
The agency also tendered documents and evidence explaining what, if any, surveillance the former Iranian refugee had been under.”
I don’t know exactly which documents were tendered recently but we did already know of ASIO’s involvement with Monis as the Inquest’s website has posted documents on that for quite a while.
There is also a report from a joint effort by the NSW premier and cabinet and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. I will quote (and abbreviate) only the bits about the year 2014 – the year of the December siege:
“Monis was the subject of many law enforcement and security investigations and assessments over the period of his residence in Australia. None provided any indication he had the intention to commit an act such as the Martin Place siege.”
“The NSW Chief Psychiatrist has reviewed the medical documentation and concluded that at no time in his multiple encounters with mental health professionals was Monis assessed to represent a potential risk to others or to himself, and at no time was it necessary to admit him to hospital for treatment of mental illness, or for him to receive coercive or more restrictive care.”
So either those psychiatrists should declare themselves incompetent, or they are competent and made the correct assessment that Monis was no madman.
Again quoting Kidd’s ABC article:
Counsel assisting the inquest Jeremy Gormly SC told Wednesday’s hearing it was important that the ASIO segment of the inquest be conducted outside “the public eye.”
“‘That came at the cost of public exposure, even to other parties,” he said. ‘It was, however, sensibly endorsed by all parties.’ Mr Gormly told the inquest it was his expectation that the coroner would deliver a restricted report of his findings and recommendations relating to ASIO.
Some of the other items from that “Report on Man Haron Monis” prepared jointly by NSW and Commonwealth are:
March 2014: On 31 March 2014, INTERPOL Tehran advises that Monis does not have a criminal record in Iran, but was wanted for ‘defrauding Iranian citizens’.
(Quel surprise that the contact from Iran was so recent. Or was it “Iran’? Interpol is sort of a private thing.)
14-15 April: NSW Police Force charge Monis with three sexual assault charges dating back to 2002. He is remanded in custody.
(Just wondering: How did the charges come up 12 years after the event?)
16 April: Requests that the Parramatta Local Court investigate his allegation that NSW Police Force and ASIO are involved in the murder of his former partner. The request is denied.
26 May, 2014: Monis is granted conditional bail for the sex offence charges and released the following day.
9-13 December: NSH receives 18 calls and emails drawing attention to Monis’ Facebook page. It is decided they do not indicate a desire or intent to engage in terrorism. Nor are the postings assessed to meet the threshold for prosecution under new ‘advocacy of terrorism’ legislation.
12 December — Monis appears in the High Court (in Sydney) seeking to appeal his conviction for postal offences.
The ABC’s report on the Inquest’s directions hearings ends by saying that the Inquest’s findings:
“would only be made available to federal Attorney-General George Brandis, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Margaret Stone, and ASIO.”
Personally, I can’t think of any reason (except one) why ASIO would be unwilling to make known its dealings with Monis.
— Mary W Maxwell is preparing a book on the Sydney siege Inquest.