JOURNALIST: The Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is on the line. Minister, good morning and thank you for your time.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Alan.
JOURNALIST: The news from London is not good?
JULIE BISHOP: No, sadly, very sadly I can confirm that two Australians, two young Australian women were killed in the London attacks. The British authorities have asked the Australian Government to not publicly identify them until the official coronial processes are completed and the families have been officially advised. We have of course been in constant contact with the families who are on their way to London now. The families have asked for privacy, you can understand what a harrowing time they are going through. The two beautiful young women enjoying a night out in London, and I have to say the savagery of these attacks is just beyond belief.
JOURNALIST: Awful isn't it? Just I suppose in a procedural sense, why has it taken this long, do you think, to confirm a) that they are dead, and then their identities? It's hard to believe that something like this on London Bridge, I can understand someone who survived being missing, they've run and run and run and you don't know where they are, but if they're dead, how has it taken so long for Australians to know that?
JULIE BISHOP: Alan, the British authorities are being meticulous and methodical in the identification, the coronial processes and the notification process. There are a number of foreigners involved and foreign governments, and we also have to remember there have been a sequence of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom – Westminster Bridge and Manchester and now London – and I think the authorities are being absolutely meticulous about adhering to the international protocols to the letter, and this has meant that official notification has been somewhat slower than you might expect. But I can assure you we've been keeping the families informed and we've been in constant contact.
JOURNALIST: Terrible stuff.
JULIE BISHOP: We've been providing consular advice. I know it's frustrating for the media but this is the way the British have been handling it and we have to respect their processes. Sadly they're been through it a number of times in recent weeks and I think it's the involvement of foreign nationals that is meaning that they are being absolutely methodical and meticulous in it. It's just such a tragedy…
JULIE BISHOP: …and then of course coming on top of what we've seen in Melbourne yesterday, it really does make us re-assess once more to ensure that we have got the processes, the procedures in place to keen Australians as safe as possible.
JOURNALIST: Yes, that's the first obligation of government, to keep their people safe. We know about Kirsty tragically, can you give any detail about the circumstances surrounding the death of the second girl which is assumed to be the 21 year old Brisbane girl Sara Zelenak, but what are the circumstances around her death, do we know?
JULIE BISHOP: We do have the details. Again Alan, I'm going to have to wait until the coronial process is finalised, that should happen within hours I understand, so we will be advising the media of the details but I have to remember that the families are enroute to London. The families' last request of us before they got on the plane was that we not identify their daughters by name and that the details of it will certainly come out in due course. But they were both attacked savagely in London on the night of Saturday 3 June.
JOURNALIST: Julie, what advice or warnings is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade now giving to you and to us about Australians travelling overseas?
JULIE BISHOP: Our Smartraveller website is updated frequently to reflect events as they occur and to provide advice on the threat assessment, as far as we're able to keep it up to date. I urge people to log onto it. I'd also ask that people register online so that we know they are in the country and this is part of the concern: when we get messages on Facebook or phone calls saying that XYZ is in London, then if we don't have contact details we have to visit the hospitals, keep in touch with the authorities, try and get information out of the police and this can be really difficult and somewhat confusing, and I think gives you an indication of why the British are being so meticulous about official confirmation, because a lot of information comes in that has to be processed. So if people could register online so that at least we know that they are in the country and we've got their passport details and we can track them down should we need to. Of course the advice is to be vigilant, to be careful, to take the advice of local authorities. I have to say it, to avoid places where you don't feel safe, to avoid places where this type of event might occur and that will be set out on our travel advice.
JOURNALIST: It's so random and indiscriminate, isn't it? I mean basically that's why I think people say get on with life, it's so random, it's just unbelievable. We'll eventually win this battle, we're not winning it today but at least if we acknowledge there's a war out there and we're on one side and some of these people are on the other. It's good to talk to you and thank you for that information.
JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Alan.
JOURNALIST: Alright Julie. That's Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister.
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