JULIE BISHOP This is a time of great trial and trauma for the people of France, the French government and its security forces.
The Australian Government extends its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in these horrific attacks that have occurred in Paris overnight.
We understand that these six separate terrorist attacks commenced at around 9:30pm Friday, 13 November in the heart of Paris. The death toll is at least 100 and rising. The numbers are still very fluid and we are in contact with the French authorities. This is indeed a Black Friday for France and for the world.
I have been in contact with our Ambassador in France, Stephen Brady. There are no reports of any Australians killed or injured at this stage. However, there are 2,500 Australians registered in France at present. We believe the number of Australians in France would be much higher.
We have offered all assistance to the French authorities and we stand in solidarity with the French people in condemning these horrific and devastating attacks.
I have in the early hours of this morning spoken to the Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss and the other ministerial members of the National Security Committee of Cabinet. I've also spoken with our head of ASIO. Our national threat assessment centre within ASIO is currently monitoring the situation to assess whether there needs to be any changes to Australia's security assessment. At this stage we do not intend to change the threat level. The implications for Australia at this point are in relation to consular and travel matters for any Australians in France at this time.
I have spoken to Prime Minister Turnbull who is in Berlin and have shared with him all the information that I have received from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and more particularly our ambassador in Paris.
There was one Australian citizen who contacted our emergency consular line. He was in the vicinity of the attacks. We urgently made arrangements to locate him and I can confirm that he is safe.
Our advice is for Australians to take heed of the French Government's advice. President Hollande has declared a state of emergency. The French borders have been closed. The Paris Metro has been closed - given that a train leaves the Metro every two seconds in Paris, it means there is just no ability to travel around Paris at present. The Ambassador reports that the streets are empty and as people are being urged to stay home, they are heeding that advice.
For any Australians who have concerns for themselves or for their loved ones and friends in France, our consular emergency number, it's a 24-hour number, is 1300 555 135. That's 1300 555 135. If you are calling from overseas, another number is +612 6261 3305. That is +612 6261 3305.
It is apparent that the French people and their way of life are under attack. No organisation has yet claimed responsibility. We don't know who has carried out these horrendous attacks on innocent people but it certainly has all the hallmarks of the terrorist attacks we've seen in recent times by ISIL, Da’esh and similar organisations.
The French people have been through an exceedingly traumatic time with the Charlie Hebdo attacks and this again will test their courage and their fortitude. Australia and other like-minded countries around the world stand in solidarity with the people of France.
Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST What is your advice to Australians in Paris at the moment. Is it to stay put?
JULIE BISHOP Australians in Paris should stay where they are, ensure they are safe. Please contact the consular number so that we know where they are and we can maintain a register of Australians in Paris at this time. The embassy is staffed, fully operational and available to assist any Australians in trouble. No-one will be able to travel until the state of emergency and the closing of the borders order has been lifted.
JOURNALIST Everyone is advised not to travel?
JULIE BISHOP People should not leave their hotels, not travel, wait this out until there is further advice from President Hollande and the French Government. I understand there will be an emergency meeting of the French National Security Committee this morning, French time, so in a few hours time. There has been an emergency meeting of the French Cabinet and President Hollande has addressed the nation, but at this stage, my advice to Australians is stay put, keep safe. They won't be able to travel at present because of the national emergency measures but to contact our hotline so we can ensure we have contact with all Australians in France and we can assure their families they are safe.
JOURNALIST What about those people planning to travel to Paris sometime soon?
JULIE BISHOP Our Smart Traveller website has an updated travel advice. At this stage our advice is to not travel. Let's ensure that we can understand the situation a little better, a little more clarity. There is a state of emergency. The borders are closed so no-one will be able to get into France at this time.
JOURNALIST Is there any indication of how long Paris will be in lockdown for?
JULIE BISHOP Not at this stage. The French National Security Committee will be meeting in a few hours, I understand, so we will have a better understanding of the current situation. I have been in constant contact with our Ambassador and the death toll is rising. The circumstances are very fluid. The siege at the Bataclan Concert Hall has just ended. I understand it was a rock concert. It was anticipated that many Europeans would be at this concert. The Concert Hall has a capacity of something like - I think something in the thousands of people who could have been there, perhaps up to 1,500 capacity. I understand when the two terrorists entered many people were able to escape but not all. So the circumstances have been absolutely tragic and horrifying.
JOURNALIST Through your conversations, the death toll is about a hundred at the moment, is there any indication of what it could rise to?
JULIE BISHOP At this stage I understand the figure is about 112 but the official figures in relation to the Concert Hall, for a start, vary between 70 and a hundred. It's too early for us to be confirming any particular numbers. But I can confirm that no Australians are reported as being among those killed or injured. That's not to say we won't get other news later as the situation becomes clearer.
JOURNALIST Do you know if the G20 Summit is continuing?
JULIE BISHOP I understand that President Hollande will not be attending the G20 but he intends to send Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in his place so I’ve not heard any information to the contrary. I believe that the G20 will proceed in Turkey.
JOURNALIST So Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plans won't change at all?
JULIE BISHOP At this stage we are obviously seeking to clarify the situation. I will speak to the Prime Minister again shortly. He will continue to be updated by our intelligence community as well as Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
So we will speak again to the media if there is a reason to do so later today but in the meantime I repeat those numbers for those who are concerned about Australians overseas – 1300 555 135. If you are calling from overseas +612 6261 3305.
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- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
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