JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast. Julie I know you are so busy but the people of Melbourne appreciate hearing it right from the top. Good morning to you and another tragic day in the geo-political world that we live in.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Eddie, it is indeed. I am in Washington D.C. attending a meeting of the Coalition of countries that are determined to defeat ISIS, the terrorist organisation. During the course of the meeting we heard the news about the attack in London, in the Westminster region of London. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was here at our meeting and was obviously visibly shocked and saddened by this incident and he spoke to the meeting about it. The Australian Government has also extended our deep condolences to the British people and the British Government. A police officer was killed in this attack and others. We stand with Britain in our solidarity to defeat terrorism. This is being treated as a terrorist attack, unless the investigation shows otherwise.
JOURNALIST: At the moment four people are dead including the perpetrator, and at the moment 20 people injured, 12 severely, critical, catastrophic is what they have said, talking about the injuries that these people have received; a horrible situation. The centre of democracy in Great Britain, Westminster, locked down, the Prime Minister having to be taken away to a safe cell. It is just a horrible situation on so many points, the death and destruction but even the attack on the symbols of democracy. When you are in that room and you looked across at Boris Johnson, Julie, and the other people there, is it a sense of resignation almost these days or do people still get up on their toes saying ‘right, come on, we must continue to fight this’?
JULIE BISHOP: It is a sense of determination and a resolute resolve, if you like, to continue to fight against ISIS, to prevent ISIS from flourishing, to defeat it in Syria and Iraq and also to prevent terrorist inspired attacks elsewhere in the world. We have seen some shocking, tragic incidents over the years in Paris, in Nice, in Brussels and in London, in fact we have thwarted a number of terrorist attacks in Australia. They can occur at any time anywhere, all we can do is ensure our security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the resources they need and that the laws are there so that we can use them to keep Australians as safe as possible. But it is a terrible reminder of what can go on and yes, I felt very much for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as he was having to deal with this issue so far from home. Had he not been at this meeting he obviously would have been at the House of Commons, near where all this occurred. It is a terrible tragedy but we will continue to stand with Britain and other countries to defeat terrorism.
JOURNALIST: Julie, in the last couple of days we have seen the United States and the UK ban devices laptop sized and iPad sized on flights coming out of the Middle East. Is there added concern, is there a raise in the alarm and threats to terror on the back of that?
JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government is taking advice from our security agencies, our intelligence agencies in relation to it. Obviously if there is a change in advice we would react accordingly, but we have notified travellers on our Smartraveller website that this change has occurred. So if people are transiting from one of the ten airports that have been nominated then they must abide by these new restrictions, but the Australian Government will respond if we receive security advice to that affect.
JOURNALIST: Julie, it is 12 months since the Brussels incident and a similar situation, whether it is a copycat or a tribute, or whatever the case may be, we will find out in due course I suppose. Is there a raising, as far as the collective governments and intelligences agencies, is there a raise in concern at the moment of what is going on around the world?
JULIE BISHOP: People are deeply concerned about these attacks that may well be inspired by ISIS. The difficulty of course is detecting them. If someone self-radicalises or they haven’t been in connection with either a racialising group or a terrorist group, or they haven’t been in contact with our authorities before, it is very difficult, nigh on impossible to detect this in advance. That is why people have to be as vigilant as possible, be aware that this type of thing can go on, and obviously follow the directions of local authorities at any time. But we can’t let this stop people carrying on their lives as normal. We have to do all we can to keep Australians safe, but we also have to be aware that these kinds of attacks can occur. There is an absolute resolve on the part of the countries represented here at this meeting – 68 countries in the larger Coalition group and 22 countries, including Australia, of those who are making significant contributions to the fight against terrorism – an absolute resolve on their part to do all we can to defeat terrorism and keep people safe.
JOURNALIST: Julie, thanks very much for joining us. We really appreciate stepping out in the United States to take our call. Thank you very much for speaking to the people Melbourne this morning on Triple M.
JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Eddie, and thanks to your listeners too.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555