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I can't lay blame for Lindt siege: coroner

AAP logoAAP 7/09/2016 Daniel McCulloch

Laying blame over the fatal Sydney Lindt Cafe siege is not the coroner's role, Michael Barnes has declared as he prepares to consider his findings in the long-running inquest into the 2014 incident.

Mr Barnes said his task was to lay out the facts and instruct authorities on ways to prevent such events happening again.

"We have been well aware of the dangers of hindsight bias from the outset and have guarded against it," he told the inquest in closing remarks on Wednesday afternoon.

"Nor is it our role to ascribe blame. Commentary to the contrary is either mischievous or ill informed."

He expects to deliver his findings early next year.

It is unlikely we will ever know if Australia's intelligence agency ASIO could have done more to stop gunman Man Haron Monis before the fatal siege in December 2014.

The inquest into the siege has been told evidence relating to ASIO's involvement was unlikely to be publicly released when Mr Barnes releases his findings.

All evidence relating to ASIO has been gathered in private and counsel assisting the coroner, Jeremy Gormly SC, said it was crucial to examine issues surrounding the agency without compromising their work or breaking any laws.

"It continues to be the expectation that your honour will prepare a restricted report in relation to the ASIO segment containing your findings and recommendation on those matters that can't be made public," he said.

The coronial inquest has been examining what ASIO knew about Monis and whether it should have taken action against him before he staged the standoff.

The inquest has examined whether Monis should have been detected, kept under surveillance or on a security watch list.

It has also looked at whether Monis should have been predicted to commit a politically motivated attack, and what role ASIO played during the Martin Place siege.

Critically, it has explored the response to 18 National Security Hotline reports made days before the siege relating to violent and offensive images on Monis's Facebook page.

ASIO hadn't completed its inquiries by the time of the siege.

The coroner has looked at what roles Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers performed, and whether the force should handle all domestic terror matters.

The ADF could not have managed the Martin Place siege unless the NSW Police first declared a "lack of capability".

"No arrangements were triggered by the NSW Police so any question about what the ADF would have done if called upon is hypothetical and of limited evidentiary use," Mr Gormly said.

Mr Barnes paid tribute to the families of slain hostages Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson as well as those who survived.

"The inquest was obliged to start before many affected by the deaths could have been emotionally ready. That must have added to their pain and that is something I deeply regret," he said.

The legal teams at the inquest are expected to hand in their final submissions by the end of the year.

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