VIRGINIA TRIOLI: The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now from Parliament House on that matter though.
Minister, good morning and thanks for making time for us.
JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Minister, can you update us on what security changes have been made around Parliament House this morning?
JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Parliament House has had increased security for some time. There's no specific threat against Parliament House here and so we have had increased security arrangements for some time. But in relation to the incident in Canada, obviously security arrangements there will be increased substantially as a result of this dreadful incident that has occurred.
It really is grim news from Ottawa and quite shocking. I did have the opportunity to make contact with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird who was inside Parliament House in Ottawa, and was only about 50 feet away from the gunman who made his way into their Parliament House. So it's very grim news indeed from Ottawa today.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Do you know the status of our High Commission in Ottawa at the moment? I understand it's actually quite close by to the War Memorial where the first shooting incident took place?
JULIE BISHOP: Indeed our High Commission is only two blocks from Parliament Hill. You can see the Parliament House from the High Commission. I have spoken to our High Commissioner, Louise Hand, earlier this morning and she confirmed that all Australian Embassy staff were fine. They had been in lockdown because our High Commission is within the cordoned-off area around the Parliament House. So all our embassy staff have been inside for the entire day, but just a short while ago, they were told by the authorities that they could leave on foot to go home but public transport had been redirected away from the area.
So it is a shocking event and I know that the Canadian people will have been stunned by this and our thoughts and prayers are particularly with the families of the soldier who was shot guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at their War Memorial.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Do you believe it's too early to be speaking about terrorism in relation to this?
JULIE BISHOP: The Canadian Authorities haven't made the connection, but I have to say it does have the hallmarks of a terrorist attack. We don't know the motivations of the gunman who was killed and that occurred in the Hall of Honour within the Parliament House, very close to where the parliamentarians were meeting for their parliamentary party meetings. In fact, Prime Minister Harper was inside Parliament House as well as the Cabinet Ministers.
But it does have the hallmarks. It was an attack on Canadian armed forces at a War Memorial. There was an incident at their Parliament House. For quite some time these murderous, brutal terrorist organisations have been speaking about attacks on those sorts of institutions and in those sorts of countries including Canada, Australia, United States, any country that opposes their ideology, any country that embraces freedom and tolerance. So it's too early to say but I am concerned.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: And in your mind, do you link it also to that incident that took place just yesterday with another soldier run down?
JULIE BISHOP: This is another disturbing incident, where soldiers again were under attack. I mean Canadians are rightly deeply troubled when their Defence Forces are under attack in their own country, just as Australians would be. And so they are two very troubling incidents. But the Canadian Authorities have not yet made any connection and so it's too early to say whether they are related in any way.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Now, it is indeed early days, this has on been going on for a couple of hours and just as we went to air but do you have any sense or any intelligence that Australians have in any way been caught up in this?
JULIE BISHOP: I understand from our High Commissioner that all Australians have been accounted for, that no Australians were caught up specifically. There is a consular number that people can ring if they have any concerns – it’s 1300 555 135. We have also amended our travel advisory for those travelling overseas to inform them of this incident and if they are in Canada to take note of what local authorities are saying. Also, log on to our website to see if there's any update to travel advice.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Now, on the emergence of Australian teenager, Abdullah Elmir in that ISIS propaganda video, what do you think is the best way of preventing local youth being radicalised in this way?
JULIE BISHOP: We need to work with the communities, with religious leaders, with teachers, with parents, with communities generally and that's what the Australian Government is seeking to do, also State Governments. This is an issue for all of us to deal with. For a young person living in Australia with all the freedom and the tolerance and the support that we have in this country, to become so radicalised that they would leave the country, leave their family and friends and go over and join a terrorist organisation that exalts in executions and crucifixions and mass killings is just shocking.
So it's an issue for the entire community to try to embrace these young people and engage with them and ensure that they don't believe in this brutal ideology. It's illegal, it puts their lives at risk. Indeed a number of Australians have been killed fighting for ISIL or Da’esh as it's called in Iraq and Syria.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: We hear that phrase a lot, about working with communities. I am just wondering, practically and specifically do you as Foreign Minister have a sense of exactly how that's achieved? It seems at least in this case the battle has been lost?
JULIE BISHOP: We're battling an ideology, we're battling the radicalisation, the brainwashing if you like of young people. Parents and teachers and people of influence over young people must come together to see if we can engage with them. Now, I'm not a psychologist, I'm not a social worker, but the Australian Government will provide support to groups that can work with young people. We do it in many areas. We do it in relation to the vulnerability of young people across the board. So we must continue to try to ensure that our young people are not attracted to this brutal ideology.
That's why we have taken steps to prevent so-called foreign fighters from leaving this country, by cancelling their passports so that we can work with them here. If they are overseas we cancel their passports so that they have to seek our permission to come back into the country. And then we can arrest them or detain them so that we can take them into our care again to try and stop them taking part in this terrible ideology.
As you know, I was in Baghdad over the weekend and the Iraqi Government is deeply grateful for the assistance that Australia and other nations are providing to them, so that they can combat ISIL, take back the territory that's been taken from them, and try and rid their country of this horrible, terrible organisation.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Our time is tight just before the news but I did want to ask you about a story that AM is reporting today that the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison wants to try to take control of the Ebola threat with new powers to force visitors from West Africa to be isolated in quarantine. Do you believe this is a good idea?
JULIE BISHOP: We've had a number of discussions in our National Security Committee about Australia's response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We have been discussing this on a regular basis for some time. We are still in negotiations with other countries about how Australian health workers could be evacuated or treated should they be working in West Africa. We're providing funding to the United Nations, to front line services. In fact the United Nations has praised Australia's quick and immediate response to provide funding. So there's a very detailed process that we're going through across government and we'll continue to do that.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Just to jump in, but specifically on this suggestion, on this push by Scott Morrison, do you think it's a good one, would you support that?
JULIE BISHOP: Well, we're discussing a whole range of issues about Australia's response and we'll continue to do that. There are a number of issues we're looking and there's no one specific matter I want to dwell on today. We are looking at a number of ways we can assist West African countries in trying to combat this terrible outbreak of Ebola.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: We'll leave it there, thanks for your time this morning Minister.
JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.
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