Sydney cafe siege: Australia 'must compensate' victims

Emergency workers at Sydney cafe siege Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Four people were injured in the Sydney cafe siege

Australia has been urged to compensate the victims of domestic terror attacks as it does those harmed abroad, after the Sydney cafe siege last month.

The New South Wales attorney general, Brad Hazzard, said current payouts, limited to attacks in other countries, were "more than a little anomalous".

The siege in Sydney's Lindt cafe ended with the deaths of two hostages.

Meanwhile, New South Wales MP Fred Nile has said male hostages who fled the siege should not get bravery awards.

The MP, who is known for his controversial views, told the 2UE radio station that the awards were normally given "for an act of bravery" - but men who had fled from the siege "haven't done anything".

Men and women were filmed escaping from the cafe during the 16-hour siege, but Mr Nile's comments referred specifically to men.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tributes were left to Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson at a memorial site outside the Lindt cafe

The gunman, Man Haron Monis, was killed as police stormed the cafe. Cafe manager Tori Johnson and barrister Katrina Dawson were also killed at the climax of the siege.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week called for Mr Johnson and Ms Dawson to be honoured with bravery awards.

Mr Abbott said "proper consideration" should also be given to the actions of surviving hostages and police, which may be "worthy of recognition".

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Nile said he did not believe the male hostages who had fled the siege deserved an award - but he also said he did not regard them as cowards.

In a tweet over the weekend, Mr Nile had questioned whether "the men who fled leaving women behind" should receive awards for bravery.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Man Haron Monis was well known to Australian police

Meanwhile, Mr Hazzard said in a statement that he had asked the country's attorney general, George Brandis, to extend a scheme to compensate the victims of terror attacks abroad "to cover acts of terrorism committed on home soil".

Mr Hazard said those harmed by the Sydney siege could so far only apply for compensation under the New South Wales' victim support scheme - and some had already done so. Four people were injured in the siege, including a policeman.

A spokesman for Mr Brandis said he was considering the issues raised by Mr Hazard's request, the Guardian Australia reports.

The federal government offers a one-off payment of up to A$75,000 (£40,400; $61,300) to those injured in terror attacks abroad, or to the family members of those killed.

The money is only given for attacks that the prime minister declares to be eligible. These have included the 9/11 attacks in the US, as well as the 2002 and 2005 bombings in Bali.

Mr Abbott has described the Sydney cafe siege as a "brush with terrorism", and has referred to Monis as a "madman" and a "deeply disturbed individual".

An inquest into the deaths at the Lindt cafe siege is to begin on 29 January in Sydney.

The inquest will investigate whether any of the deaths could have been avoided.

Related Topics