Monis letter chronology

Monis letter chronology

AG      Attorney General
AGD  Attorney General’s Department
DCoS  Deputy Chief of Staff
DLO    Departmental Liaison Officer
PMC    Prime Minister & Cabinet
PMO   Prime Minister’s Office
QON   Question on Notice
QTB    Question Time Brief





Australia’s Terror alert level raised to its highest level in history.


Haron Man Monis writes to AG Brandis

Monis asks whether writing to “Caliph Ibrahim” is illegal.


Letter received, DLO refers it to AGD Ministerial Correspondence Unit noting it should be referred to the National Security Law and Policy Division.


Acting Assistant Secretary of National Security Law and Policy Division Karen Horsfall writes back to Monis


Sydney Lindt Café siege commences.


Joint NSW Cth Review (Siege Review) and coronial inquest announced


AGD begins to conduct search of documents relevant to review and identifies 68 documents held by the Department within the terms of reference of the review.

According to AGD Deputy Secretary Sheehan 19.06, the Monis letter was identified in the searches and provided to the co-ordinating Division of the AGD. The letter and its response, and four other documents, was listed on the second tab of a spreadsheet provided to the Division. When the documents were collated by the Division, the second tab was missed by human error. 


AGD provides documents to review, but not the letter and 4 other documents.

(AGD QON 03.07)


AGD becomes aware that review has not considered Monis correspondence and that its non-provision is related to an “administrative error related to a spreadsheet”. Review team member advises AGD the text of the review had been finalised and, therefore, did not want the letter.

Note: Discovery of the “second tab” seemed implied as information related to the Sheehan review but was known in February .


Review provides its final report to PM.


PM releases report


Monis letter to AG Brandis mentioned by counsel-assisting in opening address to inquest

Letter and contents are reported in Advertiser, Canberra Times, Australian, Tele and the SMH, ABC Radio and 7.30 Report.


Senator AG Brandis and Ms  Jones, Deputy Secretary of National Security and Criminal Justice Group AGD, advise a Budget Estimates hearing that a) AGO did not refer letter to agencies; b) the letter was provided to and considered by the review; and c) there was nobody at the AGD who was concerned about Man Monis.

19.06, Ms Jones gave evidence that this was not based on an Estimates brief or document but on her personal recollection. Ms Jones also states Monis had written “hundreds” of letters across the government.

28.05.15 10.50

Question Time Brief provided to the AGO by Ms Horfsall.

(AGD QON 03.07)


14.00- 15.30

Foreign Minister Bishop answers eight national security questions in QT. Without prompting, Bishop raises the Monis letter “I understand where [Dreyfus] is heading ...” and at Question 4 says “the letter and the AGD’s reply were both placed before the inquiry into the Martin Place siege [which] did not have any criticism of the way in which the Monis letter was dealt”. Reiterates twice in further questions. Describes Dreyfus and Sen Collins as contemptuous for politicising a national tragedy.




AG Brandis publishes media release “Dreyfus’ Cheap Shot” stating letter had been provided to review and stating ASIO D-G Duncan Lewis, had “examined” the letter and said it was appropriate that the letter only be referred to the AGD.

At least nine articles (MX Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) The Age, The Australian, ABC On Line report on the matter, the letter, Labor questions and Bishop/Brandis responses.

28.05.15 15.11

Hansard of Legal & Con Budget Estimates hearings from 27.05 published on the APH website.

28.05.15 15.42

PMO to PM&C (ALL Senior Executive) noting eight questions to Foreign Minister in Question Time related to the handling of the Monis letter.


AG Brandis reiterates at Estimates that the letter was considered by the review.

ASIO D-G Lewis gives evidence that on the morning of 28.05 he had been given the letter to read but that it had not been “assessed” by ASIO. Confirms the ASIO assessment of Monis (which was referred to the review) did not consider the letter.


Various print articles appear sympathetic to Labor questions including Monis Letter a red flag that was ignored (Australian), Labor slammed for questioning Monis response: Attorney General in spotlight (SMH) and Killer’s interest in terror ignored (West Australian).


Before  12.40

Link to “Dreyfus’ cheap shot” media release disabled on the Attorney General’s website.



Ms Jones has “long-planned” lunch meeting about a range of matters with PMC Deputy Secretary (National Security) McKinnon from review taskforce. “In passing”, discusses Estimates evidence from 27.05. Realises she was thinking about other correspondence when she gave evidence on 27.05. Determines to check her evidence.

On 19.06,Ms Jones says she did not take any notes of this meeting, takes on notice precise nature of the other letter. Jones also agreed to provide, on notice information about which letter she was thinking about.

On 23.06, Mr McKinnon says “I immediately felt it had not been provided ... I said, ‘No, we never discussed that’”.



Ms Jones discusses the matter with Mr Sheehan who testified he did nothing about it.

On 23.06 Mr Sheehan states discussion occurred after COB.



Ms Jones reviews Estimates transcript from APH website. Decides to take further steps to clarify whether letter had actually been provided.



Mr McKinnon takes call from AGD officer (“I don’t recall who”) who asked whether "we had that letter ... I immediately rang Kath”.

24.06 Mr McKinnon is “unable to identify or recall who rang me about the Monis/Brandis letter” (QON Response).



McKinnon receives email from AGO

“Further to our conversation earlier, please find attached QTB concerning the Monis letter” indicates the caller to McKinnon’s call is from the Attorney-General’s Office.



Ms Jones advises McKinnon (Tel contact) she thinks letter “may not have been sent” to the review.

(AGD QON, 23.06)


(approx 10.45)

Ms Jones calls Mr Sheehan. Discussed potential need to correct Jones’ evidence to Senate.

(Oral testimony, 19.06) Note: On 23.06, Mr Sheehan states this call occurred “in the vicinity of 10.45”.



AGD asks PMC whether correspondence had been provided. 

(AGD QON, 23.06)

01.06.15 11.30

McKinnon is aware that the letter was not received by the review.

(Oral evidence, 23.06)



McKinnon to PMO (email) describes the AGD as “ducking for cover”.



PMC to AGD “we have checked the index for AGD documents very carefully. The letter is not there ... the PMO says the AGD can answer any questions on this issue now that they know the review team didn’t receive it”. Enclosed attachment says “The Team was never aware of the existence of the letter”.

Separate PMC to AGD email between non SES officers candidly says “no record of a letter from October 2014 has been found ... you’re more than welcome to come and look through the files”.   



Email Chidgey to redacted.

“Grateful for your assistance in identifying a reason the following items were not provided to the review”.



First DRAFT email (Chidgey to AG Brandis’s DCoS) appears.

Ms Chidgey sends the draft email to Mr Sheehan at 13.25.

At 13.37 Ms Chidgey sends the draft to Ms Jones and Mr Moraitis “here are proposed points for the AGO”. Mr Sheehan is copied in.

Ms Jones responds at 13.46 “I think it’s broadly okay” and suggests amendments. Mr Sheehan and Mr Moraitis are copied into this email.

On 3 August at a public hearing Mr Sheehan tried to distance himself from correspondence he’s had the opportunity to comment on -  “it is not a particularly well written email”.

01.06.15 12.39-13.22

AGD to AGO/AGO to AGD emails copying Assistant Secretary, Counter-Terrorism Law Branch about the QTB advising “Update not necessary. We’re just leaving it as it is”.

01.06.15 13.50

Ms Jones identifies that she was “confusing this was the one Monis wrote, I think to an Attorney-General , asking permission to register Hizbollah in Australia. Can someone please confirm for me that such a letter was provided by AGD to the Review”.

01.06.15 13.54

AGD to AGO email Chidgey to the Attorney General’s Deputy Chief of Staff (DCoS) (includes Mr Sheehan, Ms Jones & Mr Moraitis) says Jones had “concluded that her evidence was incorrect [and that she would] correct her evidence ... at the earliest opportunity”. Email refers admin error in spreadsheet.

On 19.06 Mr Moraitis said “I provided an update to the Attorney late on 1 June to the effect that it was unclear whether the department had provided the letter to the siege review ... of Monday night I still did not understand whether the letter had been passed or not”.



AGD to PMC to confirm Chidgey to Attorney’s DCoS email has been sent.  

(AGD QON, 23.06)



Iain Anderson (First Assistant Secretary, Criminal Justice Division, AGD) asks Ms Jones “would you like me to have a draft letter to Hansard prepared for you to consider”.

Ms Jones answers (@14.06): “I think the sooner we do that, the better. I can come in to sign. Should clear it with Chris” [Moraitis].



Ms Jones offers to break leave and come into the office to sign a letter to correct the record: “I think the sooner we do that, the better ... Should clear it with Chris [Moraitis]”.

(@ 15.19) Draft letter of correction first appears.



PMC to AGD: PMC Secretary Thawley, who is at the PMO wants to know has “AGD corrected the Senate Estimates Record [of] K Jones”. Refers Bishop “has repeated the same line today”

(PMC QON, 24.06)


Approx. 18.00

Mr Moraitis meets AG Brandis. According to Sheehan’s evidence 19.06, the AGD has come to the view that the letter had not been given to PM&C in “the first batch”.

AG Brandis statement 04.06 says that he ordered Mr Moraitis to conduct a review at this time, but this conflicts with 19.06 evidence (Sheehan) that a review was ordered on morning of 01.06.



Post meeting with AG Brandis – Mr Sheehan emails key staff in AGD outlining a timeframe for the review (three days) and stating that Ms Jones will correct the record after the internal review is done.



Sheehan to McKinnon email requesting a meeting the next morning “I think we have all the information we will need”.


Approx. 10.15

McKinnon & Sheehan meet at PM&C.

02.06.15 13.15

Internal AGD Email states that the “the [Question Time Brief] has been amended to reflect but not highlight that not all documents were provided to the Siege Review”. 

Note: FM Bishop is in Paris. Warren Truss is answering questions that would normally be directed to the Foreign Minister.


13.53 onwards

AGD officers work all day on a detailed email documenting the steps its Criminal Justice Decision took in relation to the coordination process for the Siege Review.

Email states that the National Security Law Policy Division “identified that the correspondence ... had not been provided to the Review”.



Ms Chidgey responds to Mr Sheehan’s 1 June email requesting she draft a letter from Mr Moraitis to AG Brandis. The draft responds to Mr Sheehan’s “skeleton”. The draft states “Ms Jones will correct the record at the earliest opportunity”.

Unclear if the draft was copied to the Attorney-General’s office.


Officers in the AGD spend the day nuancing draft letter from Mr Moraitis to the Attorney-General. At 14.49 email from AGD to AFP sent with extracts from draft Moraitis letter for comment without notifying the Secretariat of Ms Jones’s incorrect evidence.

04.06.15 13.00

AGD realises that it has not actioned Ms Jones 1 June request to find Monis correspondence relating to Hizbollah. “Further to my previous calls – there is a letter that needs to be located urgently”.

This email sets off an urgent search within the AGD. @13.05, email PM&C to AGD “I was able to track down the attached copy of the letter to former AG McLelland”.


AGD arrives at a “complete understanding” of the matter [according to Sheehan 19.06].


AG Brandis Media Release: “My office received Mr Moraitis report early this afternoon ... the Foreign Minister was advised shortly before Question Time”.

Bishop: (@15.09) “Madam Speaker, I wish to correct an answer I gave in the House in response to a question from the member for Isaacs”.

AG Brandis (@15.15, 6 minutes after Ms Bishop corrects the record) correction delivered to the L&C Secretariat – Ms Jones correction arrives at the same time.

On 24.06 – Foreign Minister Bishop in QT claims she was informed “at 2.43pm”, not before QT as stated by the AG.

On 25.06 – AG Brandis in Question Time:  “I believe that the foreign minister was herself advised during the course of question time, which is what she said. Her office was advised shortly before question time.”

04.06.15 15.45

After an exhaustive search, the AGD acknowledges another correspondence item has not been provided to the Review.

This email indicates yet another letter that was not provided by the AGD to the Siege Review and, alarmingly, was not even behind the second tab because “AGD did not have the letter” (it was from 2008).

We suspect that the letter was likely provided by PM&C to the review as then Prime Minister Rudd was copied into the correspondence.


Secretary Thawley writes to PM advising he has now seen the Monis to AG Brandis correspondence and says it would not have made a difference to the outcome of his review.

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