ABC Radio National - interview with Fran Kelly

  • Transcript, E&OE

FRAN KELLY: Julie Bishop, can you tell us anything more about the situation in Ottawa?

JULIE BISHOP: We are waiting for the Canadian authorities to conduct an investigation into the motivation behind this shooting. It is grim news indeed. It is shocking to think that Parliament House has been locked down with parliamentarians inside. In fact at about 4am Canberra time this morning I made contact with the Foreign Minister John Baird and he was about 50 feet away from the shooting in the Hall of Honour and he was in lockdown. He said it was a terrifying event and he was concerned that they were safe.

It does have the hallmark of a terrorist attack although the Canadian authorities have not made that link yet – the gunman or gunmen targeted a military guard guarding the War Memorial and then the Parliament. And this is the kind of attack that these terrorist organisations have been threatening for quite some time in countries that oppose their murderous and brutal ideology. It is a deeply disturbing issue. I have spoken to the Canadian High Commissioner here in Canberra this morning and passed on our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the soldier that was killed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

FRAN KELLY: I guess we shouldn't lead to conclusions as you say until the Government confirms one way or another. But it is easy to assume this might be terror-related given those warnings we have come to see from those IS statements and videos in recent weeks and also particularly in Canada given what happened the day before?

JULIE BISHOP: That's right. There was an incident in Quebec where armed forces were again targeted and this is a disturbing and shocking element to it that Canadian armed forces are under attack in their own country. Just imagine how Australians would feel. It is a terrible incident, but the authorities will obviously investigate this and try and determine a motivation or whether the gunman was affiliated with terrorist organisations or acted alone. These are details still to emerge. I did speak to our High Commissioner in Ottawa, Louise Hand, and of course our High Commission is only two blocks from Parliament House and it was within the area cordoned-off by the police. I can confirm all Australian staff are safe and accounted for but it is obviously concerning that they were also in lockdown but I believe they have been allowed to leave on foot in the last few moments, public transport has been diverted away from the area, but they have been allowed to go home.

FRAN KELLY: This occurred in what is called the Parliamentary Precinct in Ottawa, in Canberra, we call that the parliamentary triangle. Could this kind of event play out in the parliamentary triangle? I was speaking to Paul Bongiorno earlier who said we have tighter security controls in our Federal Parliament – because there is no way someone with a gun could get in the Federal Parliament – but I guess someone with a gun could do a lot of damage on the way through.

JULIE BISHOP: It is a terrible reminder that violent incidents can occur anytime and in any place. The Government has acted in recent weeks to increase security in Parliament House here in Canberra and that is obviously justified. It is a priority of the Government to keep all Australians as safe as we can. That is why we are working so hard to prevent foreign fighters leaving our shores and going over to fight with ISIL or other terrorist organisations because history shows that if these radicalised extremists come back into this country they can engage in terrorist activities so we are doing all we can to ensure that we can keep Australians safe.

FRAN KELLY: Will there be some kind of emergency security meeting in terms of upgrading security around Parliament today in the wake of what's happened in Canada?

JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister has called the National Security Committee together. We will be meeting in a short while, obviously to discuss the implications of this for Australia.

FRAN KELLY: Julie Bishop, thank you very much for joining us at this busy time.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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