MP: fleeing hostages 'don't deserve bravery awards'

CONTROVERSIAL New South Wales MP Fred Nile has angered victims of the Sydney siege after saying the male hostages who fled the Lindt Cafe during the crisis did not deserve bravery awards.

He said if the men who fled the cafe were given one then it would cheapen the award.

Reverend Nile's insensitive comments came before it was revealed the inquest into the deaths of hostages Tori Johnson, 34, and Katrina Dawson, 38, would start on January 29 at Glebe Coroner's Court.

An interim report into the December 16 siege that was leaked last weekend revealed a ricocheting police bullet had killed Ms Dawson when heavily armed tactical officers stormed the cafe and opened fire, killing gunman Man Haron Monis.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrote to Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove this week to say Mr Johnson and Ms Dawson should be honoured with posthumous bravery awards.

Mr Abbott said in the letter that proper consideration should also be given to the actions of others involved, including other hostages and emergency services.

Rev Nile told Fairfax Radio that he was not suggesting the actions of those who fled were cowardly.

He agreed that Mr Johnson and Ms Dawson should receive bravery awards.

"Obviously they (the hostages who fled) were wanting to escape and save their lives, but normally bravery awards are given for an act of bravery, that somebody actually does something; and they have not done anything," Rev Nile said.

"I just do not think it is something that should be rewarded with a bravery award.

"I do not think we should do anything that cheapens those bravery awards for people who have risked their lives."

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird announced this week a permanent memorial will be erected in Martin Place to honour the victims, hostages and emergency services involved in the siege.

- APN NEWSDESK



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