Sunrise - Interview with Natalie Barr

  • Transcript, E&OE
21 December 2016

NATALIE BARR: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us in the studio. Good morning to you. With the German authorities releasing this suspect, what's your advice to Australians who are still on the ground there? Lots of Aussies are in Europe this time of year.

JULIE BISHOP: Most certainly any Australians in Berlin at present should be monitoring the media and taking directions from local authorities. Our advice to Australians in Germany was to stay away from the Christmas markets and places where a lot of people are gathering, particularly at peak times, because they are vulnerable, as we've seen to this kind of attack. Although it has the hallmarks of a terrorist attack, the German authorities have not yet confirmed that it is. So we also ask that people register their travel plans so that we know who is in a particular country - our embassy, our high commissions are aware of the Australians who are there. I also suggest that they log on to our Smartraveller website for any updates on security and other advice.

NATALIE BARR: Were you surprised at the way this was released this morning? At the end of a news conference, a kind of, by the way we've released the guy, he's not the guy, the guy's still on the run?

JULIE BISHOP: Well clearly the investigation is still underway and the motive behind the attack hasn't yet been determined. The perpetrators have not yet been detained and so the investigation is clearly still underway. That's why I would urge Australians to exercise all precautions if they are in the area.

NATALIE BARR: But was that a bad way of going about it for the German authorities, to release it in such an ad hoc way and it took them so long?

JULIE BISHOP: Well I don't think it would be helpful if I criticised the German authorities. They are clearly in the middle of a very difficult situation where they're seeking to find the perpetrators, seeking to determine a motive and it does have the hallmarks of a terrorist attack because it may well just be a copycat attack from the incident in Nice or it might well have some ideological philosophy behind the attack, so we're yet to know that. So in the meantime I think we'll let the German authorities get on with the task of trying to determine what was behind all this.

NATALIE BARR: Does it make it more unsafe on our soil? We've seen this - as you say, it feels like Nice, if feels very similar. What are our authorities telling you about the chances of any more attacks here?

JULIE BISHOP: We have for some time had our threat assessment level at probable. That means it is probable that an attack could occur. In fact, over the last two or two and a half years, police and security and intelligence agencies have thwarted about 11 attempted terrorist attacks in Australia. So we are doing all we can to keep Australians safe. Police, our intelligence, have the resources and the powers that they need to keep Australians as safe as possible. But of course we can't give any guarantees that an attack like that won't be attempted here. There have been attempts in the past and we've managed to thwart them.

NATALIE BARR: Yeah. Unfortunately yes. Julie Bishop, thank you very much...

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

NATALIE BARR: ...and merry Christmas.

JULIE BISHOP: Same to you.

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