Today Show, Perth - Interview with Lisa Wilkinson

  • Transcript, E&OE
03 October 2017

JOURNALIST: Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins me live. Good morning to you Foreign Minister.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Lisa.

JOURNALIST: First of all can you tell us about any Australians you know of that are amongst those injured in Las Vegas?

JULIE BISHOP: First Lisa, I am deeply shocked and saddened by this massacre in Las Vegas. We extend our sympathies to the families of the victims and our thoughts are with those who were injured. At least 58 people have been killed, at least 515 injured and our thoughts are with the people of the United States who are suffering through what is the deadliest mass shooting in US history. I have been in contact throughout the night with Australia's Consul-General in Los Angeles and she has confirmed that at this point no Australians have been identified as having been killed or injured. We know that a number of Australians were in the vicinity or are in the vicinity but at this stage, and the situation is evolving, no Australians have been identified amongst the victims or those injured. We are making inquiries of the local authorities, we are systematically going through all the hospitals in the vicinity and we are seeking to account for all Australians. Given the large number of Australians who do visit Las Vegas – it's been estimated that about 365,000 Australians visited Las Vegas last year – this will obviously take us some time and we do urge anyone who has concerns about their loved ones who might have been in Las Vegas at this time to make direct contact with them and if they're unable to do so then call our hotline on 1300 555 135.

JOURNALIST: 1300 555 135 is that number to call. Are you aware of many Australians reaching out to Australian authorities over there seeking help?

JULIE BISHOP: We have been contacting Australians that we know are in the region, they have been registered on our Smartraveller website. We have obviously received contact from families and friends concerned and so we're doing what we can to make contact with all Australians who might be in the area. We have bolstered our consular team in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas. We have people in from Washington, specialist consular advisors. We're working with the British and the Canadian consulates as well to ensure we can also identify any dual nationals. At this stage the hospitals aren't giving out information on nationality but we are methodically working through all the information we have with local authorities to ensure that all Australians can be accounted for. The situation is very complex. Given the large number of people involved, this will take some time.

JOURNALIST: We know this is a very popular holiday destination for Australians as you mentioned. What would your advice be to anyone planning to visit Vegas at the moment?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, clearly there is still an investigation under way. Australians who are in Las Vegas should obviously abide by the directions of the local authorities. It seems that the perpetrator was acting alone, he has taken his own life and so the incident, as such, is over. But of course if people are seeking to travel to Las Vegas, please let the Australian Government know, register on the Smartraveller website and exercise a high degree of caution. Clearly an investigation is still ongoing.

JOURNALIST: We have seen so many of these mass shootings. This is now officially the worst and the largest. Do you think it's time for the US to tighten its gun laws?

JULIE BISHOP: I have no doubt that a debate will be raised again about United States gun laws. Each state have different laws. What Australia can do is share our experience after the mass killing in Port Arthur back in the late 1990s when 35 people were killed by a lone gunman and you will recall that John Howard then introduced national gun laws which banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons and included a national buy back scheme. So we have had this experience. We acted with a legislative response and it will be up to US law makers and legislators to deal with this issue.

JOURNALIST: OK Julie Bishop, we will have to leave it there. This vile act really makes us rethink what is possible for humankind these days. It's just awful. We really appreciate your time this morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Lisa.

Media enquiries