Sunrise, interview with Samantha Armytage
JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop joins us now in the studio. Minister, welcome, thanks for your time. Two Australians as we're just heard injured in this attack, what's the latest update on them?
JULIE BISHOP: In fact Sam, there are three Australians affected by this savage terrorist attack in London, and I spoke to our High Commissioner, Alexander Downer just a short while ago. He confirmed that there are three Australians affected. One is in hospital and she is recovering and I have spoken with her family. Another, an Australian man, is on his way home, he had injuries but he's on his way home. In relation to the third Australian, we still making enquiries to determine the circumstances.
JOURNALIST: Right ok, that is new news this morning. Does this recent attack yesterday affect our terror threat at all do you think?
JULIE BISHOP: It does not change our terror threat assessment here in Australia. The Prime Minister and I had a meeting yesterday, a couple of meetings yesterday, with our intelligence, law enforcement and security agencies. There is no evidence at this point that would make us change a threat assessment, but it is at 'Probable', it has been at that level since September 2014. We have seen a number of savage and brutal terrorist attacks around the world since that time, in Paris, in Ankara, in Brussels and of course in Manchester and now again in London. We are not immune, but we keep a constant watch on the threat assessment and will advise the Australian public should there be any change.
JOURNALIST: Ok, now given we are now seeing cars, vans, kitchen knives being used as weapons, is it pointless to keep talking about how to stop these lone wolf attacks and shift the focus somewhere else?
JULIE BISHOP: Well in fact the mindless savagery behind this particular attack shows that people can use everyday items – motor vehicles, knives – to harm innocent people. This was part of the ISIS narrative, the Islamic State terrorist organisation was urging its demented followers to pick up a rock or a knife or use a vehicle. So whether this was inspired or directed by ISIS, we don't know, but nevertheless it is still this narrative that this kind of brutality is acceptable. Well it is not, and I admire the British Prime Minister's response.I certainly respect what the British police have done in responding so quickly. But these attacks must stop, and we are doing all we can to thwart any attempted attacks and keep Australians safe.
JOURNALIST: Just really quickly, there's a British election this Thursday. Jeremy Corbyn, the Opposition Leader has been on their TV this morning saying that difficult conversations are needed with Saudi Arabia about the funding of Islamic terrorism. Is that the conversation we need to start having now as the Western world?
JULIE BISHOP: Conversations have to be had with the Muslim world, with community leaders because we need the voices of moderate Islam to drown out the voices of extremism and terrorism and radicalisation. I spoke with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson overnight, and he indicated that they needed to have even greater discussions with the Muslim community in Britain because it is through connections, family, friends, religious leaders that they actually get tip-offs and information and intelligence that is of use in their counter-terrorism efforts. We have to have a very broad conversation with many communities. I'm meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the US Secretary of Defense today here in Sydney, and counter-terrorism, Islamic extremism and terrorism will be top of our agenda.
JOURNALIST: We look forward to seeing the outcome of that meeting. Foreign Minister, thanks for your time today.
JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Sam.
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