Today Show, interview with Lisa Wilkinson

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: For more on the reaction here at home I am joined now by our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who is in Canberra. Minister, good morning to you.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Lisa.

JOURNALIST: Any news yet on whether any Australians were caught up in this?

JULIE BISHOP: Lisa, just prior to coming on your show I spoke again with our High Commissioner in London, Alexander Downer and we still have no information that would lead us to believe that any Australians were involved in this cowardly, callous attack. In fact, the British authorities have informed us that they have no evidence to suggest any Australians were involved. But I must point out that the grisly task of identifying bodies continues and we are in touch with all the major hospitals in Manchester – there are eight hospitals. We are in direct communication with MI5, with the Metropolitan police, with the Manchester police. At this stage there is no evidence to suggest any Australians were involved in this. Our hearts go out to the people of Manchester, to the people of Britain. It's a horrible scene and I feel so very deeply for those affected by it, but we have no evidence, no information that Australians were involved.

JOURNALIST: Alright. Well Minister, Manchester comes just weeks after the terror attack on London's Westminster Bridge and the British Prime Minister Theresa May has just in the last few minutes raised the terror threat level there to critical, meaning more attacks may be imminent. Would you recommend Australian travellers stay away from the UK right now?

JULIE BISHOP: We would recommend that anyone seeking to travel to the United Kingdom read our travel advice which is under constant review and brings the latest information that we have to the Australian public. Obviously with the threat assessment being raised that will change our assessment of travel to the United Kingdom. I understand that there is a very wide investigation under way by the British authorities to determine whether there is, in fact, a terror cell, a wider group operating within Manchester and within the city. And so while that investigation is under way my recommendation would be not to travel to Manchester but of course the Australian Smartraveller website will have the latest information. The fact that the perpetrator died in the attack was cause for us to think this was perhaps a lone wolf attack, but it's now quite evident it's part of a broader effort and while the police investigation is under way clearly people need to be very cautious and take a great deal of care about their travel in the United Kingdom.

JOURNALIST: And another man has been arrested in in connection with the Manchester attack.

JULIE BISHOP: That's right.

JOURNALIST: So at this stage, do you expect that advice to travellers to change given what's just happened with the announcement from the British PM?

JULIE BISHOP: Lisa, last night our National Security Committee of Cabinet met, chaired by the Prime Minister. We had the heads of our intelligence agency and security and law enforcement – the Australian Federal Police, ASIO, Defence Force, ASIS – they were all there. We discussed this matter of course. We keep our threat assessment in Australia under constant review and we keep our travel advice under constant review. I act on the advice of those intelligence agencies and if there is any change in our advice then we will make that as public as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST: Well right now here at home our threat level stands at probable.

JULIE BISHOP: That's right.

JOURNALIST: But that is under review?

JULIE BISHOP: It is always under review Lisa. We constantly consider advice from our security agencies, from our intelligence agencies and if there is information that would lead us to believe that that threat level should change we will do that but it stands at 'probable' which of course means an attack is probable. We are doing all we can to keep Australians safe. We are reviewing all practices and strategies and procedures, particularly regarding mass gatherings, places of public interest, where tourists visit, sporting events and the like. That's under constant review, and we're developing a nationwide strategy that includes New Zealand to ensure we can keep Australians as safe as possible and that we're doing all we possibly can to keep Australians safe at home.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as always appreciate your time this morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you Lisa.

- Ends -

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