Doorstop interview

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: I've spoken overnight with Australia's High Commissioner to London Alexander Downer. He has confirmed that at this stage there is no evidence to suggest that any Australians were affected by the horrific bombing in Manchester yesterday. Our authorities are continuing to contact the hospitals in Manchester – there are eight hospitals – and we are working very closely with the British authorities, including MI5, the Manchester Police and the Metropolitan Police. We note that Prime Minister May has changed the threat level in the United Kingdom. We also understand that there is an ongoing investigation into the perpetrators behind the attack and that while one died at the scene, it appears that is at least one other person involved, and the investigation is currently focused on whether it is part of a wider terrorist cell. The National Security Committee of the Australian Cabinet met last evening, chaired by the Prime Minister. Present were the heads of all our security and intelligence, law enforcement agencies and Chief of the Defence Force, and at this stage there is no evidence to suggest any connection between the bombing in Manchester and Australia and our threat level remains 'probable' and remains under constant review.

JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, do you know if security has been lifted or will be lifted at sporting events, let's say in Sydney tonight, I think Liverpool is playing Sydney FC or something like that?

JULIE BISHOP: Most certainly the security arrangements for those sporting events, including the Vivid Festival, the sporting events that are being held here tonight are under review and we are doing all we can to ensure the highest level of security to keep Australians safe at these events.

JOURNALIST: Now that the threat level has been raised to critical in the United Kingdom, there are soldiers on the street there. If Australia's threat level were to also be lifted would that something you would consider doing in Australia to protect public places?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia's threat level at this point has not changed. We have no evidence to suggest that it should change, but if it were to change then of course we would act on the advice of our security, intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies as to what would be appropriate.

JOURNALIST: Is there any chance the military could be deployed to events such as the Commonwealth Games next year?

JULIE BISHOP: That is at least 12 months away, we are obviously dealing with the situation that occurred in the United Kingdom. The authorities in the United Kingdom are determining whether it is part of a broader terrorist cell. I note Islamic State has claimed responsibility on social media but it is yet to be determined whether Islamic State were directing this horrific, horrendous attack or whether it was merely inspired. We will keep all major events under review. We are also reviewing places of mass gathering, crowded places, to ensure that we can keep those locations as safe as possible for Australians, for tourists. We are working with closely with New Zealand on a strategy to ensure that public places, places of mass gathering, can be as secure and safe as possible.

JOURNALIST: It appears to be a perpetrator who is home-grown in the United Kingdom. How are we viewing that scenario here because it does seem to be not people that have come from countries of concern?

JULIE BISHOP: There is no one-size-fits-all terrorist attack these days. The terrorist threat, the terrorist activities are evolving, we are seeing different forms of attacks take place. Some people are home-grown, as it is put; others have come from elsewhere. If you are looking at the terrorist attacks in Europe, it has been a range of factors that have led to it. So we keep this under very close review. We are constantly considering ways to ensure that Australians are kept as safe as possible. This is why we must be ever vigilant and why we have increased the resourcing for our intelligence agencies, to our law enforcement agencies to ensure that we can keep ahead of the practices of the terrorists. This is a particularly brutal and heartbreaking attack, targeting children, young concert goers, these are innocent people. We have seen terrorist attacks in the past that have been directed at governments and military, but these kind of attacks are so particularly callous, particularly brutal because they were targeting young children.

JOURNALIST: Is the National Security Committee of Cabinet meeting again today, for example, if you are constantly reviewing?

JULIE BISHOP: That would be a matter for the Prime Minister to determine if there was a necessity for the National Security Committee to meet, but we did meet last night and all the heads of our relevant agencies or the relevant ministers were present at that meeting.

- Ends -

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