The Federal Government has been forced into an embarrassing admission that it did not send a letter from Man Haron Monis to an inquest into the Sydney siege, in contradiction to its prior statement, according to reports.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made the admission after Question Time on Thursday, a move queried by the Opposition.
Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke has questioned the timing of the admission – after Question Time, on the last sitting day before the weekend.
“There’s no way in the world that the first moment they had to correct the record was at the end of Question Time,” Mr Burke said.
Monis reportedly penned a letter to the Attorney-General George Brandis in October 2013 asking whether it was lawful to write to the leader of Islamic State.
The letter was never sent to the joint Commonwealth-New South Wales inquest being held in Sydney, but last week Ms Bishop told Parliament that the letter and Mr Brandis’ reply were provided to the inquiry.
The Deputy Secretary of the Attorney-General’s office, Katherine Jones, provided the false advise, Ms Bishop said.
“The letter and reply were not provided to the revue due to an administrative error in the Attorney-General’s Department,” Ms Bishop said.
“Ms Jones has written to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs [Committee] to correct her evidence.”
Looking for answers
Monis was free on bail facing serious charges including being an accessory to murder, and sexual assault, the inquest heard on Thursday.
The families of the two hostages killed in the firefight which ended the 17-hour ordeal are seeking answers as to why Monis was free, the inquest heard.
Café manager Tori Johnson and lawyer Katrina Dawson were killed when police raided the Lindt Café in Martin Place in the early hours of December 16, 2014.
The Commonwealth and NSW directors of public prosecutions supported excluding the details of the bail order that freed Monis two weeks before he entered the café, the ABC reported.
The NSW and Commonwealth DPPs argued the bail issue is too broad and beyond the scope of the inquest.
The lawyer for Ms Dawson’s family, Phillip Boulten SC, said police should explain why they did not try to have Monis’s bail revoked.
“Why he was there in Martin Place with a gun is central to the inquest,” Mr Boulten said.
He noted that nobody took any specific steps to “restrain his liberty”.
The lawyer for Mr Johnson’s family, Dr Peggy Dwyer, said they had “burning” questions on the issue of why Monis was on bail.
“They have burning questions that they want answered by this court,” Dr Dwyer said.
“His family are entitled to know how his bail was assessed,” she told the coroner.
Mr Gormly said facts emerged early in the investigation that the bail needed to be looked at and it was “common sense” that they were examined.
He said Monis was in “an advanced stage of an accumulated criminal history” just before the siege.
The coroner will decide on the matter on Friday.
– with ABC/AAP