Hostages flee after police raided the Lindt cafe. Photo: Andrew MearesThe 15 survivors bound together by tragedySydney siege ends – how it happened
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About 9.30am on Monday, barristers Katrina Dawson and Julie Taylor popped into the Lindt Chocolat Cafe. The pair worked together in commercial law, around the corner at the prestigious Eight Selborne Chambers next to the Supreme Court.

Ms Dawson, a 38-year-old mother of three young children, and Ms Taylor, pregnant, were among nine customers and eight staff inside that small cafe in Martin Place. They were there with Stefan Balafoutis, another young member of the NSW bar, from the 10th Floor Selborne/Wentworth Chambers.

There were some familiar faces in the crowded room: Elly Chen, their smiling barista, a 22-year-old student from the University of NSW; Tori Johnson, the cafe’s affable 34-year-old manager, and 30-year-old Harriette Denny, from the Sunshine Coast but working at the cafe in Sydney. A 75-year-old woman and a man in his 80s were also among the customers.

Then, through the cafe’s automatic glass sliding doors, entered a bearded 50-year-old man. This was Man Haron Monis. He was wearing a bandanna and carrying a blue bag that contained a shotgun.

The staff and customers could not have understood why Monis disabled the automatic glass doors, so nobody else could  enter.

They had no clues to his antecedents: the refugee who had fled from Iran to Australia in 1996, claiming he was persecuted for his liberal take on Islam; who became a self-proclaimed spiritual healer, peddling astrology and black magic, and a self-anointed sheikh; who would renounce his Shia roots to become a Sunni; who would be convicted of harassing the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and an Austrade official who died in the Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta; who was on bail for his alleged complicity in the brutal murder of his former wife.

Suddenly Monis ordered the 17 other people in the cafe to get on the floor. A woman trying to enter from Martin Place saw this happening. She called police.

A minute or so later, at 9.45am, a staff member called Bruno arrived for his shift but he also could not enter. He watched what was happening through the glass.

Soon the terrified face of  Ms Chen appeared. She was pressed against the glass and, on Monis’ orders, holding aloft a black flag scrawled with Arabic text in white, which translated as: “There is no god but Allah. And Muhammad is his messenger.”

Police began to evacuate Martin Place of thousands of people. Channel Seven’s news teams, in their studio opposite the cafe in Martin Place, were evacuated but their camera kept running on the action.

The startling images of Ms Chen and other hostages, the palms of their hands pressed against the glass, were beamed around the world.

Monis identified himself to his hostages as The Brother. But while police evacuated surrounding city blocks, nobody knew quite what the hostages were enduring inside the cafe.

Among them were four staff from the Westpac building across the mall. They included project manager Marcia Mikhael, a 43-year-old mother of three from Glenwood, in Sydney’s north-west.

The stakes became clearer when posts appeared on her Facebook page on Monday afternoon. “Dear friends and family,” Ms Mikhael wrote. “I’m at the Lindt Cafe at Martin Place being held hostage by a member of the ISI [Islamic State].

“The man who is keeping us hostage has asked for small and simple requests and none have been met.

“He is now threatening to start killing us. We need help right now. The man wants the world to know that Australia is under attack by the Islamic State.”

But about 4.35pm there came hope. Two of the hostages, Stefan Balafoutis and the man aged in his 80s, ran from the cafe, escaping through the automatic doors.  Soon after, a cafe worker fled through a service door. And just before 5pm, two women, Elly Chen and fellow cafe worker Bae Ji-eun, a 20-year-old Korean student, escaped.

Inside the cafe, however, this only infuriated Monis. The youngest of his captives, 19-year-old Jarrod Hoffman, from Bondi, called radio 2GB and The Daily Telegraph to relay Monis’s demands: he wanted a direct line to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and an Islamic State flag delivered to the cafe.

“He says an eye for an eye,” Mr Hoffman said. “If someone else runs, someone dies.”

He added: “I have had a shotgun put at my head. Yes we do need help, but that will only happen if demands are met.”

Media complied with police requests not to publish these messages or Monis’s demands while the siege continued. Monis was using the hostages to get his word out, and police did not want anyone playing into his hands.

But he persevered. He ordered hostages to deliver video messages shot on a smartphone. These were posted on Monday evening using the YouTube account of another hostage, 21-year-old Joel Herat, a staff member at the cafe. YouTube took down the videos, but they spread on social media.

“Hi everyone, I’m Selina Win Pe,” said Ms Mikhael’s colleague, from Westpac’s global transformation project. “We have three specific requests and none of these have been met.

“One is to send an IS flag as soon as possible and one hostage will be released. Two, please broadcast to all media that this is an attack against Australia by Islamic State.

“And number three is for Tony Abbott to contact The Brother on a live feed and five hostages will be released.

“Most importantly, there are three bombs around George Street, Martin Place and also at Circular Quay and in order for these not to be ignited we need these three things to be met as soon as possible,” Ms Win Pe said. “Please help us.”

Similar video messages were delivered by Ms Mikhael and barrister Julie Taylor, who began, “This is a message to Tony Abbott”.

But Ms Win Pe became more desperate in a call to the Telegraph, pleading: “We’ve got pregnant ladies in here and sick and elderly … We have not heard from Tony Abbott. We have been asking him to call us to have a long conversation. He clearly doesn’t give a shit because he hasn’t called us since 9.45 this morning … Help us. Help us to get Tony Abbott to call this gentleman to send the fricking Islamic State flag …”

The demands were not met.

But at 2am, more than 16 hours after the siege began, it appears the 12 remaining hostages seized their chance. Monis began to drift off to sleep. They dashed for the exit.

Monis roused and started shooting. Tori Johnson, the cafe manager, attempted to wrestle the gun from him. Monis shot him dead, although Mr Johnson’s wounds suggest he beat him severely before firing the fatal shot, one source said.

At 2.03am, six of the hostages ran out a service door. They included Harriette Denny, Jarrod Hoffman and software engineer Viswakanth Ankireddy, a 32-year-old from India who is living in Sydney with his wife and young daughter and working on a Westpac project.

Outside, police had heard the shots. And a sharp-shooter had seen Mr Johnson go down, one report said. Now they had to storm the cafe or many more people would die, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said later.

About 2.10am they shot down the glass doors and blazed into the cafe in a hail of gunfire and lightning flashes of light.

In those final seconds, they killed Monis. But the barrister Katrina Dawson – mother of three, and Julie Taylor’s coffee companion – was also killed in the firefight. Police believe it was Monis’s bullet that killed her.

Injured in those final violent seconds were Marcia Mikhael, shot in the leg, the 75-year-old woman, shot in the shoulder, a 52-year-old woman who was shot in the foot, and a 39-year-old policeman whose face was sprayed with pellets. He was released from hospital and Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said: “His only words to me were, ‘I’ll be back at work tomorrow’.”

Fifteen hostages were alive, but Ms Dawson and Mr Johnson became the victims of Man Haron Monis, a deranged lone wolf who wanted the world to believe he was an Islamic State warrior.

He had been born with the name Mohammad Hassan Manteghi.  He grew up to become a fake sheik, a pretend spiritual healer and a wannabe terrorist.

Nobody believed him. But he was dangerous and, for more than 16 hours, he did terrorise a nation.

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Jacques Kallis: “I still remember what the end of a bat looks like.” Photo: Cole Bennetts Jacques Kallis: “I still remember what the end of a bat looks like.” Photo: Cole Bennetts
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Jacques Kallis: “I still remember what the end of a bat looks like.” Photo: Cole Bennetts

Jacques Kallis: “I still remember what the end of a bat looks like.” Photo: Cole Bennetts

Legendary South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis believes the example set by the Proteas former leader Graeme Smith proves that Australia’s new Test captain Steve Smith can be a success despite his tender age.

The namesake of Australia’s incoming skipper at the Gabba on Wednesday was handed the reins by South Africa at the age of 22, and went on to not only steer his national team to the top of the international tree but become Test cricket’s most successful captain with 53 wins before his retirement in March.

At 25, the Australian Smith has three years on the imposing former opener from Johannesburg but against India will still lead a team in which only three players are his junior. Kallis, in Sydney to begin his first campaign with the Thunder in the Big Bash League, says the achievements of his countryman proved that Smith could enjoy his own rich tenure despite his date of birth.

“I can only speak from an outsider’s point of view that Steve looks like a guy that is well respected,” Kallis said. “I don’t know him in that team environment well enough to comment too much on that but certainly from Graeme’s point of view he was very well respected within the team and almost from the day he walked in he had those leadership qualities. So we kind of knew he was going to get groomed for that and certainly as senior players we backed him 100 per cent.

“And to be fair he relied a lot on the senior players early on when he was making decisions and that and rightly so and then obviously learned as he went along. Being 22 years old, sure he made a lot of mistakes when he was a youngster but I think the big thing is he learnt from that and it made him into the captain that he was and in my eyes one of the better captains we’ve ever had. Graeme certainly turned out to be very successful and I don’t think Steve will be too far behind that.”

Kallis arrived in Sydney on Monday night with the city’s attention on the Martin Place siege, and in Cape Town over the past few weeks has been deeply saddened by another tragic event, the death of Phillip Hughes.

“We went to bed the night that it happened almost expecting to wake up in the morning to say he’s fine, he’s out of ICU,” he said. “To wake up to that news was certainly tragic. I don’t think you ever play cricket and think your life is in danger. I think you know you can get hurt but I don’t think you ever thought you could get killed.”

After the darkness of Hughes’ passing the bright and bombastic BBL begins this week – Kallis’s Thunder start against Brisbane Heat at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night – and it’s a competition he says he was drawn to “because I heard it was so much fun”. At 39 he is in his twilight days as a cricketer but having played as recently as October’s Champions League in India, one of the game’s greatest players is not simply here for a holiday. “I still remember what the end of a bat looks like.”

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BATTLE: Port Stephens has two contenders for Liberal party preselection – Jaimie Abbott and Ken Jordan.THE Liberal Party will hold a ballot to choose its Port Stephens candidate with both Newcastle businesswoman Jaimie Abbott and councillor Ken Jordan nominating, despite claims of a deal done between the party’s head office and MP Craig Baumann for Cr Jordan to be his successor.
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A party spokeswoman rejected as ‘‘not true’’ the existence of such arrangement, amid vying for the safe Liberal seat that has a margin of nearly 15 per cent.

Nominations closed on Tuesday.

Ms Abbott, who runs her own Newcastle-based public relations business, lives at Nelson Bay, and previously ran for the federal seat of Newcastle, which takes in some areas of the state electorate of Port Stephens.

Cr Jordan appears the favourite to secure the nomination, and has the backing of federal Paterson MP Bob Baldwin, Mr Baumann, and state electoral conference head and fellow Port Stephens councillor Steve Tucker.

But some party members have objected to the notion that Cr Jordan has the nomination sewn up.

And it is understood least one Liberal parliamentarian has since raised with party officials Cr Jordan’s friendship with Buildev co-founder Darren Williams, questioning his candidacy.

It follows Cr Jordan dropping his nomination for the seat of Maitland and switching to Port Stephens when Mr Baumann announced he would withdraw as the endorsed candidate due to the indefinite delay to the Independent Commission Against Corruption handing down its Operation Spicer findings.

As the Newcastle Herald has reported, Cr Jordan was the best man at the wedding of Mr Williams –who was an ICAC target– but insists he no longer votes on council matters relating to the Newcastle development company because of their long-standing friendship.

A party review committee scrutinises all candidates. It would be unlikely a candidate would be chosen before Christmas if both nominees are required to go through the process.

Candidates are prohibited from commenting until they have been endorsed.

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Melbourne Victory skipper Mark Milligan has been suspended for three games after the A-League’s match review panel deemed him guilty of serious foul play when he elbowed Sydney midfielder Terry Antonis during the 3-3 draw between Victory and the Sky Blues on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.
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Milligan had claimed in mitigation after being cited for the offence that the referee had dealt with the matter during the game and had not awarded a free kick against him after the clash. Referee Peter Green was close to the incident and stopped play after blood began streaming from Antonis’ face, but did not give Milligan a card before he restarted the match.

The MRP thought differently, and gave the Socceroo midfielder the mandatory one-match ban, plus a further two games.

That means Milligan will miss Saturday night’s high-profile derby clash with Melbourne City as well as the home game against Newcastle Jets two days after Christmas.

Straight after that he will go into camp with the Socceroos for the Asian Cup, so he cannot serve the third match of his ban until the A-League resumes.

If Australia is knocked out of the Asian Cup early  Milligan’s final match ban might be served during Victory’s trip to Western Australia on January 25. If the Socceroos go to the semi-finals or final of the tournament then Milligan’s third match would be the February 7 game against Melbourne City at Etihad Stadium.

Antonis required 10 stitches after the game, Sydney boss Graham Arnold said in the post-match press conference.

Victory will now be forced into a reshuffle for Saturday night’s game, with utility Leigh Broxham, who has been playing as a central defender in recent weeks, moved back into the centre of the park with Carl Valeri. Centre back Nick Ansell, who has been regaining match sharpness off the bench, could be given an opportunity to start.

Milligan’s suspension is not good news for the Socceroos either. Milligan has been a starter in many of Ange Postecoglou’s first-choice line-ups and if he starts against Kuwait in the Socceroos opener on January 9 at AAMI Park he will not have played a serious game since December 13 – almost a month earlier.

Another who will be serving time on the sidelines is Wellington Phoenix skipper Manny Muscat. He has been given a two-match ban following his clash with Central Coast Mariners player Glen Trifiro in the 1-1 draw between the two last weekend.

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CELEBRATIONS: New Year’s Eve fireworks and markets will move to Honeysuckle this year. Picture: Simone De PeakNEWCASTLE’S New Year’s Eve celebrations will be moved from their traditional home in Foreshore Park to the Honeysuckle harbourfront this year.
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Australia Day celebrations will also be moved west to coincide with fan sites and community festivals being staged for the Asian Cup soccer tournament.

Newcastle council’s manager of tourism and economic development services Jan Ross provided an update on the ‘It’s On in Newcastle’ tourism campaign on Tuesday to volunteers who will be helping to showcase the city to Asian Cup visitors throughout January.

She confirmed that New Year’s Eve celebrations will move away from their spiritual home and be centred on Worth Place at Honeysuckle. While the council has again opted for 9pm-only fireworks displays this New Year, she assured that people will still be able to view them from Stockton and Foreshore Park but ‘‘all the action’’ will be held at Honeysuckle with stalls, pop-up food stalls and cafes and live entertainment.

It will be the same story on Australia Day with a ‘World BBQ’ being held in the vicinity of Worth Place and the adjoining harbourfront car park. Adjacent, in the area east of the Maritime Centre, the Asian Cup fan site will feature a giant screen which will beam live matches throughout the tournament (excluding the four Newcastle matches).

It’s the first time New Year’s celebrations won’t be based in the city’s east end. With the rail line into Newcastle closed from Boxing Day and interim public transport measures in place, extra bus services will be provided to ferry revellers between Honeysuckle and Broadmeadow.

Meanwhile, Ms Ross said a new Newcastle tourism website will be up and running from late this month, timed to coincide with a spike in international tourists flocking to the four Asian Cup matches scheduled for Hunter Stadium, or Newcastle Stadium as it will be known throughout the tournament.

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The starting point for any reflection on the tragedy that unfolded in the heart of Sydney is perspective – that this was a terrible crime committed by a sick individual, acting alone.
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The danger is that the tragedy will trigger a backlash against Muslims and undermine community solidarity at a time when tensions have been increased by events in the Middle East and the raising of Australia’s terrorism alert level.

Such an outcome would be a double blow. It would threaten the social cohesion that is one of this country’s greatest strengths and it would make the job of identifying other potential threats even more difficult for police.

But, amid the abundance of sadness and the outpouring of grief for those who died, there are signs in the response of police, politicians and the public at large that this will not happen.

The Prime Minister acknowledged as much late on Tuesday when he expressed unqualified confidence that “whatever happens in the days and weeks and months to come, Australia will always be a free and open and generous society”.

One example is the response of social media users who, under the lllRideWithYou hashtag, pledged their solidarity with those who fear racially motivated reprisals on public transport – and went global.

“Keep perspective,” was the message from one contributor. “1.5 billion Muslims in the world; 500,0000 Muslims in Australia; one mentally-ill criminal in a café.”

“The signs are extremely encouraging that people are saying, ‘For goodness sake, don’t let this infect our attitudes to the Muslim minority. This is the kind of madman that could have come out of any section of society’,” is how social researcher, Hugh Mackay, expressed it.

Paul Komesaroff, director of the Centre for Ethics in Medicine and Society, is similarly encouraged by some of the reactions.

“Obviously many people recognise that there are serious tensions in the community that could lead to damaging outcomes, and that has stimulated a number of people to respond in a supportive manner by expressing solidarity with the Muslim community,” he says.

There will be many lessons from the tragedy, including the need to avoid the danger in over-playing such a shocking incident, either by exaggerating links of the perpetrator to the ISIL “death cult”, to the extent to which the incident paralysed a city.

For law enforcement, one question to ponder is how potential perpetrators can be identified. “In the past, we’ve been able to focus on conspiracies, or the gathering of bomb-making or other equipment,” says Victoria’s deputy police commissioner Tim Cartwright. “But these guys are much harder to pick up, particularly when they don’t use sophisticated weaponry.”

One strength the police have, says Cartwright, is the trust that has been forged with all sections of the community over two decades. “We sit in Victoria and New South Wales enjoying the benefits of that cohesion and, in times of crisis, we can talk and share concerns and deal with them.”

His take-out is emphatic. “People should enjoy the Christmas period with their families, comfortable that law enforcement is doing everything it can to keep them safe. This is not about religion. It’s not about culture. It’s just about a crazed criminal act by a single individual.”

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Popular for the wrong reasons? Jennifer Lawrence topped celebrity searches on Google in 2014.The World Cup action stole Australian hearts in 2014 as the most searched-for term on the world’s number one search engine, Google.
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It was otherwise a macabre top five, however, with downed aeroplanes MH17 and MH370 seeing Malaysia Airlines at number two, and comedian Robin Williams, media personality Charlotte Dawson and cricketer Phil Hughes, all of whom died before their time this year, rounding out the top five.

MH370 and Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and campaigner Bob Geldof, and who died of a heroin overdose, were also the top two trending news searches.

Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence was the top-searched celebrity – no doubt spurred by news of the mass leak of nude celebrity photos by hackers, of which she was a prominent victim.

Topping the list of “Where is…?” search locations was Sochi, the little-known Russian city sparking lAustralian curiosity as the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

MH370 ranked second, while “Where is Perth?”, curiously, ranked third.

Either we’re stupider than we look, or people were searching for some geographical context in relation to the missing MH370 flight, which is believed to have disappeared into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth.

“This is where the surface analytics of Google’s top 10 trends can be misleading – we should understand that Google releases these figures as much to promote its own business,” said Deakin University Professor of Internet Studies Matthew Allen.

Far from the internet making us stupid, Professor Allen said today people mainly used search engines to drill down further into the 24/7 news cycle and find in-depth information about current events, rather than trying to find out something they did not already know, as they might have 10 to 15 years ago.

“These are people who know things are going on and want rapid access to a whole bunch of links to news providers or Twitter streams, and the simplest way to do that is go to Google and type it in,” Professor Allen said.

The data also showed an “ecology” had grown between social media, traditional media and search, he said.

Phillip Hughes’ death was also the most popular subject of discussion on Twitter in 2014 in Australia.

“Alex from Target” – the humble young Texas retail worker whose photograph went inexplicably viral on social media – was the sixth most searched-for news item of the year.

And, after Ebola, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neurone disease) was the second-most searched for “What is…?” term, boosted by the viral success of the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign on social media, which was launched to raise awarenes of the condition.

Google’s Shane Treeves said the increasing use of search terms reflecting natural speech – such as “What is”, “Where is”, “Who is” and “How to” – reflected both how Google’s algorithms had evolved and also the increased use of mobile and voice search apps.

“We are seeing more downloads of the Google search app across Android and iOS – more people are using Google on smartphones and tablets, not just on their desktop or browser,” Mr Treeves said.

Other popular search terms point not to news events but changing national trends.

Paleo Recipes slipped in at number 10 of the top recipe searches – the only diet that ranked anywhere – while apparently the humble pancake is back on the menu at number one.

Crochet, knitting and meditation were among the top five “how to” searches.

And in the constantly changing world of internet trends, 2014 was the year that popular hook-up app Tinder became mainstream.

It was the top trending digital/internet slang word, and also ranked number five among “What is…?” searches.

Google’s “Trending” searches are calculated by how much a term has spiked in use compared with the previous year, the company’s Mr Treeves said.

It was the second year that micro-video app Vine, and virtual currencies Bitcoin and Dogecoin, made it into the top 10 tech search trends.

Rival search engine Bing, powered by Microsoft, did not release its top 10 overall search trends, opting instead to list popular categories.

Its most popular celebrity search was Australian model Miranda Kerr, with Robin Williams coming in at number three and Jennifer Lawrence at number five.

MH370, Ebola and MH17 topped news and current affairs searches, and the World Cup was the most searched-for sports term.

Bing’s top three tech searches were the iPhone 6, Xbox One and iPad.

Google’s top 10 trending tech terms

1. Tinder 2. Neknominate 3. Goat Simulator 4. Ello 5. Bitcoin 6. Doge 7. Pixelmon 8. Vines 9. Dogecoin 10. Flipagram

Bing’s top 10 tech searches

1. iPhone 6 2. XBOX One 3. iPad 4. FitBit 5. Samsung Galaxy 5 6. Playstation 7. Surface Pro 3 8. Kindle 9. Google Glass 10. iPad Mini

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Doesn’t recall case: Former immigration minister Philip Ruddock said many people claiming persecution suffered psychological problems. Doesn’t recall case: Former immigration minister Philip Ruddock said many people claiming persecution suffered psychological problems.
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Doesn’t recall case: Former immigration minister Philip Ruddock said many people claiming persecution suffered psychological problems.

Doesn’t recall case: Former immigration minister Philip Ruddock said many people claiming persecution suffered psychological problems.

Former immigration minister Philip Ruddock has said that traumatised refugees with psychological problems are part of any humanitarian refugee program, as attention focused on the background of Man Haron Monis.

Monis, who carried out the Sydney siege that left him and two hostages dead, fled his native Iran and arrived in Australia seeking asylum in 1996. He was eventually granted refugee status in 2001.

Monis made grandiose claims in a 2001 ABC interview about being an Iranian spy and witnessing torture, saying his government had turned on him and he would be executed if he returned to Tehran. His former lawyer, Manny Conditsis, described him as “damaged goods” on Tuesday, in the aftermath of the siege.

Mr Ruddock, who was immigration minister across the period in which Monis’ refugee status was being considered, said he didn’t recall the case, but generally many people claiming persecution suffered psychological problems.

“If there were flaws in the decision-making, I’d be keen to know, but my judgment would be that decision-making is about a claim for protection and one assumes that some of the people you do give protection to are people who may have significant psychological and other problems,” Mr Ruddock said.

“The (Refugee) Convention doesn’t exclude them. In fact what we do is put very considerable effort into trying to deal with people who have suffered torture and trauma and to ensure they are adequately cared for and treated, recognising it is highly likely that people, if they have been through such circumstances, may be the sort of people who have been entitled to refugee status.”

After Monis achieved notoriety by sending offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, then prime minister Kevin Rudd said he would consider reviewing Australia’s immigration and citizenship laws.

But Mr Ruddock said it was impossible to deport a recognised refugee because they cannot be returned to the country in which they have been persecuted, nor sent to any other country.

The only exception, he said, would be if it were proved that the refugee status had been obtained by fraud.

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Melbourne Renegades chief executive Stuart Coventry says Peter Siddle could press his claims for a Test recall for Boxing Day with a good performance in the team’s opening Big Bash League match on Friday.
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Coventry said he assumed the decision of selectors to omit the 30-year-old from Australia’s team for the second Test would prompt Cricket Australia to release him for the Renegades’ match away to Sydney Sixers at the SCG on Friday night.

“If he’s not in the starting XI he’d definitely be available I’d think,” Coventry said.  “The [Renegades’] guys will no doubt be on the phone to him pretty soon. Knowing what ‘Sidds’ is like, a super-competitive guy, he’ll want to play. As long as he’s 100-per-cent OK I don’t see why he wouldn’t be available.”

Given the halt in the Sheffield Shield until February the BBL is Siddle’s only match opportunity to press his claims for a recall for his home Test in Melbourne.

Even though there are few similarities between bowling in Twenty20 and Tests the Renegades boss insisted playing could help Siddle’s cause.

“He’s a terrific talent,” he said. “He’s proved that for a long time. If he comes back and plays on Friday and takes a few wickets and get his eye back I can’t see why not.

“People will see him if he’s playing at a good level of cricket. He’s a first-grade competitor, so I hope he’ll be available. He’d be a fantastic acquisition for our bowling stocks and would complement the list.”

Coventry also confirmed that West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell was on track to complete a marathon flying haul that would see him arrive in the Australia on Wednesday morning, after more than 60 hours’ flying in the past few days.

Russell endured a 31-hour journey from South Africa, where he played in the just-completed domestic Twenty20 competition, and spent one night at home in Jamaica, because of the potential he may not return until late March if he is selected in the West Indies’ World Cup squad. He flew out of Jamaica the following morning for his 32-hour journey to Melbourne.

“He’ll be here tomorrow morning. That’s all been confirmed. He’s gone all the way through [back to the Caribbean] and hasn’t had any hiccups. I’ve been watching his progress,” Coventry said on Tuesday after the Renegades, including weekend arrival Dwayne Bravo, completed an intra-squad match at Junction Oval.

“His management company in the UK have been terrific in advising us all the way through and making sure he gets on stops. We’re ready to pick him up and we can’t wait for him to get into the squad.”

In the past two years the Renegades’ season has begun with the derby against the Stars. Coventry said he was unfazed they were playing their first two matches away, in Sydney and Perth, and would not play at home until December 30.

“I think the whole concept of having the two Melbourne derbies a bit closer together, in January, is because that’s the sweet spot for Melbourne. People come, it’s school holidays,” he said.

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“I’ll be doing more”: Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margaret arrive at Martin Place on Tuesday to pay their respects. Photo: James Alcock “Consistently weird”: Man Haron Monis. Photo: Channel Seven
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The 15 survivors bound together by tragedySydney siege ends – how it happenedMartin Place siege: more than 16 hours of terror

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australians are right to ask how the Sydney siege gunman, Man Haron Monis, was “entirely at large in the community”.

Mr Abbott admitted the national security committee of cabinet had asked itself, when it met on Tuesday, the same question after the tragic events in Martin Place had unfolded.

But the Prime Minister said that even if Monis had been “front and centre on our watch lists, even if this individual had been monitored 24 hours a day, it’s quite likely, certainly possible, that this incident could have taken place”.

And Mr Abbott vowed that if a review of Australia’s counter-terrorism measures found that a further strengthening of laws was needed “I’ll be doing more. My job is pretty simple, to try and protect and ensure the community is safe”.

“How can someone who has had such a long and chequered history not be on the appropriate watch lists and how can someone like that be entirely at large in the community?”

“These are questions that we need to look at carefully and calmly and methodically, to learn the right lessons, and to act upon them. That’s what we’ll be doing in the days and weeks ahead.”

Mr Abbott said that while he believed the federal government had responded appropriately to intelligence reports of “terrorist chatter”, “we do have to ask ourselves the question, could it have been been prevented?”

Mr Abbott said that Monis had been “well known” to the Australian Federal Police, spy agency ASIO and the NSW police “but I don’t believe that he was on a terror watch list at this time”.

“There was nothing consistent with this individual’s life except he was consistently weird.”

During the siege, Monis issued three demands – including for direct contact with Mr Abbott.

He forced three female hostages to record videos spelling out those demands, which he then uploaded to video-sharing website YouTube.

The three demands were for an Islamic State flag to be delivered in exchange for the release of one hostage; for media to broadcast that the siege was an attack on Australia by the Islamic State; and third, for Mr Abbott to contact “The Brother” – understood to be Monis – on a live feed in exchange for five hostages.

On Tuesday, after the siege had ended, Mr Abbott’s office would not formally confirm whether Monis’ demand to speak to the Prime Minister had been met.

However, it is understood that, acting on the advice of intelligence and security agencies advice, Mr Abbott did not directly engage with the gunman.

Late on Monday night, the Prime Minister left his office for a few hours but continued to monitor developments in Martin Place through official channels and the media.

He was alerted immediately the siege moved towards its conclusion and returned to Parliament House just after 2am.

After the siege came to its tragic conclusion, Mr Abbott and key advisers including chief of staff Peta Credlin and foreign affairs adviser Andrew Shearer received rolling updates from NSW Premier Mike Baird, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin.

Early on Tuesday, a lengthy meeting of the National Security Committee meeting was convened.

The committee is chaired by Mr Abbott and also includes Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General George Brandis, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Defence Minister David Johnston and Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Abbott flew to Sydney for further briefings from Mr Baird and Mr Scipione.

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