TRANSCRIPT INTERVIEW – 6PR – WEEKENDS WITH SIMON BEAUMONT
Topics: National security, Escape. Hide. Tell. campaign
SIMON BEAUMONT: Minister Andrews is the Minister for Home Affairs and joins us on the Weekend program. Minister, thank you for your time.
KAREN ANDREWS: Pleasure.
SIMON BEAUMONT: Is this a legit poster? Is it current? Is it contemporary? Is it from your agency?
KAREN ANDREWS: It is a legitimate poster that you have seen and just spoken about. That material was actually launched in 2019, so it has been around for a couple of years. People should not be alarmed at that – but we do want people to actually be aware of what they need to do in the event of an attack. So that’s why it talks about Escape; so move quickly away from the danger. Hide; stay out of sight and be as quiet as you can. And when it’s safe to do so, call the police.
SIMON BEAUMONT: It’s a fairly heavy duty poster, isn’t it? Escape, move quickly and quietly away from danger, stay out of sight and silence your phone, and tell or call the police by dialling 000. So we can confirm it does come from a Federal agency. Would you expect that you know where these posters are and who may have printed them and stuck them up?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well they have been broadly distributed throughout the community. So right across Australia these are available and have been put up. They’re there to give a very strong message about what people need to do. I know that really for the last 18 months, many people have been very focussed on COVID, but the reality is that the threat of terrorism hasn’t gone away. Our national terrorism threat level is ‘probable’. ASIO has basically the lead on determining what our threat is. Obviously, other agencies – including the AFP – feed information into that threat assessment, but it does remain at ‘probable’. And what we do know has happened, is that during COVID, people have had more time at home, they have more time to be online, and we know that radicalisation in particular is increasing. So this is a really timely reminder to people of what they need to do in the event of an attack.
SIMON BEAUMONT: I think you’re right. I haven’t thought about a terror attack for quite some time. You know, working in the media or being a citizen, it’s all about COVID – and various sporting competitions come and go as well Minister. So ‘probable’ is in the middle of the spectrum. We go from ‘certain’, ‘expected’, ‘probable’ – where we are now – ‘possible’, and ‘not expected’. So our general terror threat level at the moment – ‘credible intelligence assessed by our security agencies indicates that individual groups have the intent and capability to conduct a terror attack in Australia’ – so it’s on; it’s happening.
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes, and we should be alert to that possibility. Now this is not to frighten people, but it is to make people aware that the threat still exists and we do need to be vigilant. There are individuals and there are groups out there that do have the intent to cause harm to Australians, and they do have the capability to do that. In fact, arguably there’s an increased capability because of the information people have accessed online from home over the last 18 months. So there’s a heightened level of radicalisation here.
SIMON BEAUMONT: Do you have an understanding of where these posters are? Do I sense that you are a little frustrated that we are probably not aware of our ‘probable’ status at the moment?
KAREN ANDREWS: It’s not a level of frustration about people being aware of the ‘probable’ status, because I understand that many people wouldn’t have or wouldn’t want to have a clear understanding of what that means. But what we want to get through – particularly with the messages of what to do in the event of an attack – is to make sure people are aware of what they should do. These are distributed; they are in shopping centres across Australia; they are available very broadly through the community; in public places so that people can look at that information, they can be aware of it. And often people will just recall this, in the unlikely case that they will need to take themselves away from a terror attack. I mean, we clearly hope that this is not going to be the eventuality, but we have to be prepared for it, and people have to be prepared and understand what they need to do.
SIMON BEAUMONT: Just finally – and back to your comment about radicalisation being on the increase – how are you keeping tabs on that and is it in the places where we’ve seen this happening before in, you know, the western suburbs of Sydney, some parts of Perth have had it happening as well as? Is it still in the usual spots, Minister, or is that changing?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, it’s not changing dramatically, but it is becoming more widespread. And it really is one of the implications of the COVID pandemic. So – unfortunately – we are going to have to deal with this particular issue where we know that people have had access to a lot more material. A lot of those people are in the cities, but not exclusively. So all of our security agencies are very mindful of this, ASIO in particular, and they do a lot of intelligence work in the area of counter-terrorism, as does the Australian Federal Police working with State Police. So WA police are certainly involved in the work that AFP does.
SIMON BEAUMONT: Well, Minister, thanks for enlightening us. I haven’t seen this poster anywhere in where I’m doing my rounds. So we’ll see what our listeners think. We really appreciate your time on 6PR Weekends. Thanks Minister.