“New South Wales MP Fred Nile has recanted an earlier statement that Sydney siege gunman Man Monis was the “only man” inside the Lindt café, claiming he “misspoke.”
The leader of the Christian Democratic Party made the comments on Channel 7’s Sunrise program this morning after saying in a radio interview on Tuesday that the hostages who fled should not receive bravery awards.
“Usually men try to protect the women and it seems that the men were saving their own skin and leaving the women there,” he on Sunrise.
“Where were the men?”
“The only man there was the man with the gun.”
“I respectfully ask for your support in ensuring the (Bravery Decorations) Council gives proper consideration to the actions of those involved in this tragic event,” Mr Abbott wrote.
“There may well be other significant acts by surviving hostages, police and others involved that are worthy of recognition”.
In a interview with 2UE Radio on Tuesday, Mr Nile responded to that suggestion.
“Obviously they 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 haven’t done anything,” he said of those who fled.
“But I think the awards, as Tony Abbott suggested, for the two hostages that died, I think they certainly should be given the awards.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports…
“From attacking advances in gay and lesbian rights to dog-whistling on Muslims and seeking to wind back women’s abortion rights, statements designed to spark outrage have been stock in trade for the Reverend Fred Nile in his more than 30 years in the NSW Parliament.
Members of the media often need to second-guess themselves when considering whether Nile’s latest inflammatory statement is worth reporting.
After all, the shrillness of his outrage and the offensiveness of his utterances often soar as the next NSW election draws closer.
So it is tempting to see Nile’s bizarre statement on the hostages taken by Lindt cafe Seige gunman Man Haron Monis in this context.
Nile is the face, heart and soul of the Christian Democratic Party. A few years ago his loyal followers voted him “president for life”. It is because of his profile alone that the party maintains its representation in Parliament.
Nile, who turned 80 last September, is facing re-election on March 28 and is likely to be returned to the upper house for another eight-year term. (It is highly likely he will hand over his seat to his younger wife Silvana Nero sometime during the next four years.)
Nile’s success has delivered him enormous power. As in parliaments past, for the past four years he and CDP colleague Paul Green have shared the balance of power in the Legislative Council with the Shooters and Fishers Party.
This means the government needs one of his party’s two votes to pass legislation blocked by Labor and the Greens. So the government does deals to ensure Nile’s support.
On current polls, Nile and the CDP have a decent chance of achieving a share of the balance of power again after the March election.
So a greater level of scrutiny needs to be applied to his latest offensive statements.
Nile says he “misspoke” on Channel Seven on Thursday morning when he suggested the “only man” in the Lindt cafe siege was the man with the gun, Monis.
The clarification that followed claimed he had meant to say the only “cowardly” man in the cafe was Monis. Nice try, Fred, but for many that’s going to be about as believable as, well, creationism.
He also tweeted the more believable explanation that he meant to say the real man was the man “wrestling” with the gun.
It appears Nile has cynically tried to exploit a tragedy for his own political gain and it has backfired spectacularly.
Let’s not forget that the reason he was on television in the first place was his earlier, deliberately controversial tweet that male hostages who fled the siege should not receive bravery awards.
As Nile prepares to face the people for re-election, perhaps he should pause for some self reflection and ask: am I really up to the job any more?
Equally, those electors who have supported his career should be asking themselves: is this the type of man we want to represent us in the Parliament?”