Prime Minister of Australia

04/14/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/13/2024 22:19

Radio interview - ABC Sydney

SARAH MACDONALD, HOST: The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, is in Canberra and about to fly back to Sydney, his city. Good morning - or good afternoon now - Prime Minister.


MACDONALD: Where were you when you heard this news?

PRIME MINISTER: I was just on my way to Canberra for meetings that I have this week, and back home. And the news came through. Of course, it was uncertain for some time about how many perpetrators there were, whether there was one or two, what the nature of this terrible events were. And so I sought briefings and received them from the Australian Federal Police, who were working in close cooperation, of course, with the NSW Police. I spoke with the Director-General of ASIO as well about national security issues and the implications that potentially could have been there, as well as speaking with the acting NSW Premier, Penny Sharpe. And last night, of course, I stood up with Commissioner Kershaw in Parliament House to make a statement there. And I will travel back for the laying of wreaths that will occur at Bondi Junction this afternoon.

MACDONALD: And will you be there in time for that?

PRIME MINISTER: I will be. And I've spoken as well to Allegra Spender, the local Federal MP there. I spoke with her last night and again this morning. And I think it's important that leaders at a time like this, whether they be Federal, State or local government, I know that the Mayor, Paula Masselos, will be there this afternoon as well, will be united in our grief and solidarity for those who've lost loved ones. For those who are still concerned about those who've been injured in this dreadful attack, and all those as well, who will be doing it extremely tough. For people who were there yesterday at Westfield, at Bondi Junction, at such a large facility, there would have been thousands of people there on site. This will be something that will have caused them enormous distress as well. Whether they be people who witnessed the savagery of these attacks, or whether there'd be people who were just frightened because they were locked in stores, not knowing what was going on. People have spoken about hearing the gunshots. It would have been a terrifying experience. And that's why it's important that we reach out and wrap our arms around each other today and in the days ahead as well.

MACDONALD: So, you'll be laying a wreath with the Premier this afternoon as you come back to Sydney. I mean, it's your city, you know this city well, you would know Bondi Junction as well. What are your messages to Sydneysiders today as more information comes in? And the police have said very clearly, there appears to be no ideological motivation for this and that the perpetrator had a history of mental health problems.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that certainly is consistent with the briefings that I received, that have now been made public. I spoke with the Premier when he landed this morning as well, and I'll be speaking with him personally, of course, this afternoon. Look, this is a tough time and there's no getting around that. But what there is as well is a story of bravery, of courage, of the inspector who took out the perpetrator, but others as well, who, as you could see from the footage, and I'm sure everyone has seen it now, the fellow who was holding up a bollard to stop this guy going up the escalator to attack more people, that's extraordinary action and bravery that, at the worst of times, we do see some extraordinary acts of courage. And the best of the Australian character.

MACDONALD: Yes, he's already been called 'bollard man', I think a lot of people wanting to track down who he is because we don't know what happened after that. So, the investigation is complex and ongoing.

PRIME MINISTER: Look, it is, and it's been very important as well, and I pay tribute to the media that this could have been speculated more on, without detail. The police have been enabled to do their investigative work. They've been extraordinarily professional in difficult circumstances. They have been transparent and releasing information to the public, so the public could have confidence going forward that there wasn't, for example, an ongoing threat from this incident. And I think as well, for those people who are continuing to work, providing support and assistance to those who've been hospitalised, those who are still undergoing severe health difficulties - the doctors and nurses and paramedics, the ambulance personnel, all those people who provide us support on the scene - it's a reminder of how vital the work of our police and emergency services is.

MACDONALD: Indeed, there's been incredible people. The Prime Minister is with me, Anthony Albanese, who's coming back to Sydney to go to Bondi Junction. This afternoon I read a statement from the family of Ashlee Good, the woman who died after handing her baby, who was also stabbed, to people who were there to look after. Great loss in the community. We're hearing now a security guard has also died. I mean, what do you say as Prime Minister to the families who have lost a loved one?

PRIME MINISTER: My heart goes out to you and the heart and sympathy of every Australian. This is a tragedy that should never have occurred. People should be able to go about their Saturday afternoon shopping in peace and in security without thinking that there is a risk involved. And this will be extraordinarily difficult. That young mother has shown the extraordinary spirit that mothers have, of thinking not of themselves but of their child, in this case, a nine month old baby. And my heart goes out to all of the loved ones of the victims of this extraordinary tragedy and this just terrible, unspeakable event.

MACDONALD: It is indeed. Prime Minister, I think a lot of us are thinking, though, you know, thank god guns are not as available in our society as they are in other countries, though, this could have been worse.

PRIME MINISTER: There's no question that that is the case. This man wielded a deadly weapon in the form of a knife. But if it was an automatic gun, then we would have been speaking about hundreds of deaths. And it is important reminder of how important it is that we do have strong gun laws in this country. Just this year as well, we are getting a national firearms register that will provide police and the authorities with further necessary information and complete the work that people, the Howard Government with the support of, importantly, Tim Fisher, who showed great courage as leader of the National Party, and Kim Beazley as leader of the Labor Party, but also the work of people like Walter Mikac, who lost his wife and children in the Port Arthur Massacre. The work that he did in encouraging gun control has been so important here.

MACDONALD: Indeed. I mean, there are people saying that we perhaps need to increase security at shopping centres, have such metal detectors and things like that. We now know that a security guard is one of those who has died. Do you have any initial thoughts on this?

PRIME MINISTER: I think now's the time to express our condolences for those who have suffered. There will be a time for an appropriate, considered response to any security lessons that need to be learnt from an incident such as this. An incident like this will provoke a necessary review that should be done in a considered way, based upon a proper assessment.

MACDONALD: I understand. So, you're heading back to Sydney. You'll hopefully be here this afternoon to lay a wreath with the Premier, is that correct?

PRIME MINISTER: I will be. And along with the federal member, Allegra Spender, and some of the state members and the local Mayor of Waverley as well.

MACDONALD: Yeah, and we'll be talking to them this afternoon on the show. Thank you so much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Sarah.