Sunrise, interview with David Koch
JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins me now from Canberra. Foreign Minister, thanks for joining us. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has just increased their terrorist threat level to the top level, critical, have you assessed ours?
JULIE BISHOP: Our threat assessment level is under constant review. We had a meeting of National Security Committee of Cabinet last night, all the heads of our intelligence, security, defence and law enforcement agencies were there, and of course our threat assessment is under constant consideration and review. The British authorities are currently carrying out an investigation into the possibility that the perpetrator of this horrific attack was part of a wider cell, a terrorist cell, and another person whom I understand was the perpetrator's brother has also been arrested. So the British authorities are actually in the midst of an investigation to determine if there is a broader group of people behind this callow, horrendous attack in Manchester.
JOURNALIST: So you're keeping our threat level where it is?
JULIE BISHOP: At this stage, on the advice of our security and intelligence agencies our threat level remains 'probable', which means that it is probable a terrorist attack could occur. Of course we have seen in the past that they have been attempted attacks that are been thwarted by our agencies. So the Australian Government and all our relevant agencies, our cooperation with State and Federal Police is of course ongoing to ensure that we can keep Australians as safe as possible.
JOURNALIST: Are you assessing whether we need military, our military to be involved in big events? You can understand the nervousness of Australians particular with big soccer match in Sydney tonight, Vivid launches in Sydney on Friday, we have got AFL games. In the UK they are mobilising their military for big public events. Will you consider that?
JULIE BISHOP: All of those events are currently under review, the security arrangements for all of the events you have mentioned and others are under review now. We constantly assess the threat level, the information that we have and we act accordingly. So we're doing everything we can to ensure those events proceed without incident. What has happened in Britain though is a grisly, ugly reminder that terrorist events can take place. This attack on innocent people, children as young as eight, is horrifying for us all and that is why we continue to ensure that Australia remains as safe as possible.
JOURNALIST: So no military being used on the streets in Australia for these big events at the moment?
JULIE BISHOP: Kochie, these events are constantly under review, our military are part of our considerations. Of course the Chief of the Defence Force is present at our National Security Committee meetings. We will respond to the advice that we receive from our intelligence agencies.
JOURNALIST: We just received the first picture of the terrorist behind this barbaric act, and he is born in Manchester, Muslim by background, and our Muslim leaders here in Australia have been strangely silent in condemning this ac. Have they spoken to you privately to share their horror, their concerns?
JULIE BISHOP: I have not had any contact from Muslim leaders in Australia…
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about that?
JULIE BISHOP: I'm always deeply concerned if people are not united in their condemnation of such an horrific act. I note that ISIS, the Islamic State entity, has claimed responsibility for this brutal act but it is still too early to say whether it was merely inspired or directed…
JOURNALIST: Should our Muslim leaders be more vocal though?
JULIE BISHOP: Well of course we want to ensure that we counter the Islamist terrorist ideology; we must continue to present an alternative narrative.
JOURNALIST: Are we not hearing from them?
JULIE BISHOP: Well that's not fair, Kochie, to the extent that there are statements by Muslim leaders. I have not had contact personally, I don't know whether the Prime Minister has, but of course the entire community must condemn this brutality and the Australian Government has certainly sent the strongest possible messages publicly and to the British people and to the British Government that we stand with them in our fight against terrorism.
JOURNALIST: And that's our challenge to our Muslim leaders this morning to do exactly the same.
JULIE BISHOP: Yes I agree.
JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop, thanks for joining us.
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