Topics: Terrorist incident in New Zealand.
SCOTT EMERSON: Following on from that attack in New Zealand this afternoon, where we saw people stabbed – three are in critical condition – in what Jacinda Ardern has confirmed was a terrorist attack at a supermarket in Auckland – we’re now with Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews. Minister, thanks for being on the line.
KAREN ANDREWS: Good afternoon Scott.
SCOTT EMERSON: What’s your reaction to today’s attack?
KAREN ANDREWS: It’s a terrible, tragic incident and, of course, on behalf of the Australian Government I offer my sympathies to New Zealanders – particularly those who were injured in the attack this afternoon and to their families. It’s absolutely tragic that this has happened.
SCOTT EMERSON: From the little we know – this has only happened in the last couple of hours – do we know anything more about the attack, and if there are any concerns for us here in Australia?
KAREN ANDREWS: I am in close contact with the Commissioner of the AFP, Reece Kershaw, this afternoon. We are both across the issues as much as we can be – the situation is still unfolding in New Zealand. The information we have – and which Prime Minister Ardern has already outlined – is there are six people who were injured as part of these attacks; three of those we believe have been critically injured; the individual who undertook these attacks was known to New Zealand authorities; and the New Zealand police were able to deal with the situation very quickly within – I believe – around about 60 seconds. The individual concerned was shot. It’s clearly evidence of the fact that the New Zealand police were aware of the risks this individual posed and they were doing all that they could to keep New Zealanders as safe as they possibly could, and they were able to act very quickly.
SCOTT EMERSON: Given the recent fall of Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban there and the anniversary of 9/11, are you concerned that possibly this attack could be related to either of those two events and we could see similar attacks happening here in Australia?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well it’s too early to say at this point in time. The belief is that this was ISIS inspired, so it may well have had some sort of link – in the mind of the individual concerned – to what has been happening in Afghanistan.
I can say the risk of a terrorist attack in Australia remains at ‘probable’. It was raised to ‘probable’ in 2014 and has remained there ever since. We know that there are people out there who do want to do Australia and Australians harm. We do have our authorities – and that includes the Australian Federal Police – very actively monitoring people we know who are already in this country, but also making sure that they are using all their available powers to get the information that they need to alert us to any potential attacks. In the situation in New Zealand – I believe at that point in time that the individual was acting on their own; so it was a lone actor attack and we do know that lone actor attacks pose significant risk. So, yes, it’s of concern.
SCOTT EMERSON: Is this the challenge for our security and authorities? As the New Zealand Prime Minister did say – this individual was being monitored since 2016. Clearly they were aware that he was an extremist but they couldn’t provide enough information or evidence to take him into custody.
KAREN ANDREWS: That’s my understanding of the situation of that individual, and Prime Minister Ardern has made comments to the effect that by law they couldn’t keep that individual in custody. Now, there obviously is a risk. We’ve talked previously in the Parliament and debated control orders – which is where people come out of prison and the controls that we can put in place. We can look at continuing detention orders – they’re not always easy to get through, but we do everything that we can to make sure that we keep people behind bars that need to be kept there.
But the situation remains under the law that some of these people – and there will be continuing numbers of people starting to come out of prison – they will come out and we will apply for control orders, which means they’re not able to do things such as access particular sites on the internet; they are not able go out in certain circumstances; they have to stay at home for curfews. We can apply for all of those sorts of things as well, and I’m sure the New Zealand authorities are doing all that they can, including having a significant police presence there to monitor what the individual was doing.
SCOTT EMERSON: All right, Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews. I do appreciate you joining us on 4BC Drive this afternoon.
KAREN ANDREWS: It’s a pleasure. Thank you very much.