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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 23819

Joint Press Conference, Melbourne

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/09/2014

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23819

Subject(s): National Terrorism Public Alert level raised to High

Location: Melbourne

PRIME MINISTER:

As I've often said, the first duty of Government is the safety of our community and it is to the safety of the community that the announcement today is directed. Last night the Director-General of Security, ASIO head David Irvine, raised the terror threat to high. Consequently, today, the Government is raising the public alert level to high.

I want to stress that this does not mean that a terror attack is imminent. We have no specific intelligence of particular plots. What we do have is intelligence that there are people with the intent and the capability to mount attacks – I want to stress that. There are people with the intent and the capability to mount attacks here in Australia.

Our security agencies have raised the threat level based on an accumulation of indicators – the numbers of Australians in the Middle East fighting with and supporting terrorist groups; the numbers who have returned from the Middle East having fought with terrorist groups; the numbers here in Australia who are known to be supporting these terrorist groups; and the exhortations that are coming from the Middle East to the supporters of these terrorist groups here in Australia to prepare to launch attacks here in Australia.

I want to stress that for the vast majority of Australians, the rise in the threat level from medium to high will not make any difference to daily life. What people will probably notice though is more security at airports, more security at ports, more security at military bases, more security at Government buildings, and more security at large public events. I do think people need to be aware of the advice that we've received from the Director of National Security, but I also want people to be reassured that we do have highly capable security and intelligence services. We have highly capable police forces right around the country who will act with professionalism in these times as they do in all times. The public should have complete confidence in the ability and the professionalism of our agencies and our police forces.

Of course, if members of the public do notice anything out of the ordinary, if they do notice anything that concerns them, they should ring the national security hotline: 1800 123 400. I would urge people who do notice things that are out of the ordinary to ring that particular number which I repeat: 1800 123 400.

There will in coming weeks be a modest public information campaign. I want to stress at this time as I always do that nothing that I have said today or nothing that I ever say about national security threats has anything to do with religion. This is about crime, potential crime, and combatting crime. That's what it's about.

I should also let you know that about an hour or go I briefed the Premiers and the Chief Ministers. The Opposition Leader has also received a briefing on these matters and I do want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the general support that he has given to the Government on these issues.

I'm now going to ask the Director-General of ASIO, David Irvine, to make some observations. Then I’ll ask the Acting Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Andrew Colvin to offer some thoughts and the Attorney-General Senator Brandis is also here to answer questions. So, David?

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

Thank you, Prime Minister.

For some considerable years, indeed since perhaps the Bali attacks, Australia and Australian institutions and people have been regarded by al-Qa'ida and its offshoots as they would say legitimate targets for terrorist attack. And in that time we've had of course the terrible loss of life in Bali, attacks in Jakarta, but here in Australia a number of plots have been this thwarted, including the famous Pandanus activities in Sydney and Melbourne and so on. The threat therefore has always been with us. What's happened in recent months and certainly over the last year or so has been that the events in the Middle East have increased the level of activity amongst people who support some pretty distorted views, extremist violent views, and we've seen a growth as the Prime Minister said, an accumulation of indicators which give the security authorities and law enforcement increasing cause for concern.

So, we've had as I say, there are now I think 10,000 roughly foreign fighters in the Middle Eastern conflict and a large number of those are Australian, between 60 and 70 are Australian, so it's a large number proportionally. In addition to that, we've had 60 to 70 people fighting in the Middle East at the present time, we've had people who’ve come home and I use the figure tens of people who’ve come home and there is a group of people who haven't gone to the Middle East yet, someone who would like to go, who are of concern to the security authorities as well.

Actions that we've taken so far have included the removal of passports from considerable number of people who wanted to go to fight with the various factions in the Middle East. When I look at these issues I think the Prime Minister is right in outlining three separate categories: people who are over there and fighting who may come home, people who are here in Australia, people who have already come home, and people who are in Australia. All of these people have to be because of their views and the sorts of things that they would like to do, have to be of real security concern.

So over a period of the last few months, the concern has been mounting and we have been considering raising the security threat level from medium to high from meaning that an attack was possible to now to consider that attack is now much more likely. And it’s a result of that accumulation of factors, the long history of al-Qa'ida-types targeting Australia, the rhetoric that is now coming out of the Middle East which is encouraging Australians to take violent action and therefore increases the possibility of attacks here. And so we see an increase particularly in intent, I won't go into all of the details but I think it is important that we raise awareness partly by raising the threat level and to assure people that the authorities both law enforcement and the security intelligence service are very concerned about this and are watching it with great care.

Thank you, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Acting Commissioner.

ACTING COMMISSIONER COLVIN:

Thank you, Prime Minister and Director-General.

The message that we wish to pass this afternoon is a simple one: we want people to be more aware, but we also want them to be reassured. While we're asking for increased vigilance from the community, we certainly want to assure the community that there is no need to be unnecessarily concerned and in fact we want them to go about their normal business as they would on any other day.

The response to the raising of the national alert level is that the security agencies will work more in a whole of government response. I think the community can be extremely confident in the network systems that we have across this country between police and our security agencies to deal, not only with the increased threat level but with any counterterrorism investigation or operation that we have to mount.

Our counterterrorism arrangements in this country are very well entrenched, they're practiced, and the national network exists. While it's too early at this stage and not appropriate for me to go into exact detail of what the full extent of the requirements may be, I think it's important that the public should not expect to see significant changes in the way that police operate. As the Prime Minister has said, we can expect to see increased security at some events and establishments, but I repeat we shouldn't expect to see significant changes in the way police will operate across the country.

We're asking the community to be more vigilant, we're asking the community to be aware, we're asking the community that if they see something, if there's something that is unusual and they're concerned then as the Prime Minister has already said we would strongly encourage them to ring the national security hotline, we can't say that number enough: 1800 123 400. If they want more information can I also encourage the community to go to the Government's website: nationalsecurity.gov.au – where there will be more information available to inform the general public.

All police in this country remain committed to the response that is required, we work very closely together with our security partners and as we've said on many times and as the Prime Minister said today, the protection of the Australian community is our number one objective.

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok. Are there any questions?

QUESTION:

In terms of some fairly big major events we have coming up, particularly the AFL grand final – what extra security will need to be in place to ensure people feel safe going to those events?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'll ask Acting Commissioner Colvin to add to this answer, but essentially we want people to go about their normal lives and we certainly want people to enjoy the football if their teams are lucky enough to be in the grand final. But what you almost certainly will notice is some additional security; the presence of perhaps somewhat more police than might otherwise be the case. But normal life in Australia can and must go on. But we need to be aware that there are people who wish to do us harm, and are preparing to do us harm, but we think that our security, intelligence, and police organisations are smarter than them and are one step ahead of them and can protect us.

Andrew?

ACTING COMMISSIONER COLVIN:

Thank you, Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister said, if people are fortunate enough to have tickets to the grand final or the finals of the football, or any other sporting event we encourage you to just go about your day as you would normally. It needs to be said that police in this country have very well worked plans with major sporting events, with any major public event. Those plans include considerable security considerations and we put those in place on a daily basis. This is in many cases business as usual for us. Of course, it is a heightened threat environment, so as the Prime Minister has said you may expect to see heightened police presence, but it won't be intrusive I’m sure. I’m sure it won't affect the enjoyment that the public can expect from their finals football or whatever event they go to and I'm sure that our state police partners will send very similar reassuring messages as well.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, our decision to support the American-led coalition in Syria and Iraq, do your announcements on that, do you think contribute to the decision to raise the threat level?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'll ask Director-General Irvine to add to this, but the short answer is no.

We have experienced significant levels of threat for a long time now and you might remember that the terrible Bali bombing in which 88 Australians were killed long preceded our involvement in Iraq in 2003. The September 11 atrocity in New York long preceded the United States' involvement in Iraq in 2003. There are people, I regret to say, out there who wish to do us harm, not because of anything that we have done, but because of who we are and the life we lead. I regret to say that there are some people who believe that a tolerant democratic pluralist society where people are free to worship their God in their own way, to choose whether or not to worship a God, that kind of a society, they regard as an abomination and that's why I regret to say we are targets, and we would be targets regardless of anything that we did. So, I just think it's important to keep all of this in perspective. Should the Government decide at some point in the future, and I stress, there have been no specific requests and no specific decisions, but should at some point in the future the Government decide to add to the humanitarian work that we are already doing in the Middle East, I'm sure the rhetoric from some of these organisations will increase, but I think we can be confident that that would merely be an excuse not the reason, so David I might ask you to add to that.

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

Thank you, Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister has said, Australia has, in fact, been a target of these sorts of groups for a very long time, and the decision that I took on the advice of my experts was one that was developed over a period of time – quite a period of time – as our concerns rose and it was taken independently of any decisions that the Government might make in relation to interventions or whatever in the Middle East. It was taken on the basis of Australian factors as they exist now.

QUESTION:

Inevitably there's going to be some people who find this scary. Do the Australian people have the right to have faith in this system, in this rating system? There were concerns raised earlier this week that it was too big a leap from medium to high, that there needed some further gradation?

PRIME MINISTER:

To give you a proper answer, there are I regret to say, people who would do us harm and regrettably, some of them are Australian citizens, Australian residents. We know from previous experience that people who have been enculturated to terrorism abroad, back here at home will retain the inclination to engage in terrorist activities. Some 30 Australians we know went to Afghanistan and Pakistan a decade or so back to work with the Taliban. Some 25 of them returned to Australia and about two-thirds of those were subsequently involved in terrorist activities here in Australia. I think nine were convicted of terrorist activities here in Australia.

So, we do know that people coming back from the Middle East, militarised and brutalised, accustomed to kill without compunction, do pose a significant threat to our community should they not be under the closest possible supervision. The best place for most of those people given that they've broken our laws, is in a maximum security prison. But what I want to assure people is that we have very capable police, very capable security agencies. I am confident that our agencies are smarter than terrorists and would-be terrorists and will remain one step ahead of them and their malice. And certainly if you look to the past, there were some four significant potential mass casualty terrorist plots that were successfully interdicted by our security agencies and the potential perpetrators have been prosecuted and jailed.

QUESTION:

But can they have faith in the system? There's been talk that the ratings system may be flawed. Is there any thought to changing it? Are you satisfied that we really have gone from medium to high?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sure. Well, it's not the Government's decision to raise the threat level; it's the experts' decision to raise the threat level. It's not a ministerial decision to raise the threat level itself; it's an official decision to raise the threat level itself. All I'm doing today is communicating that threat level to the public by raising the public alert level to match the alert level as set by our security experts.

Now, other countries have slightly different ways of doing this. The UK system for instance is slightly different from ours, although we have now raised our threat level to that which is broadly comparable to the threat level in the United Kingdom. We are constantly keeping all of these systems under review. I did announce a few weeks ago a national security review that will be reporting before Christmas and this is one of the matters that will be covered by that review.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you said a considerable amount of people have not gone overseas because they've had their passports cancelled. That can obviously lead to frustration on their part. What's your assessment as to any sort of risk that some of those people might pose?

PRIME MINISTER:

I might ask the Director-General to deal with this in a second, but if I could give you my take on it. I've heard it said in the community that if they want to go, let them go, good riddance to bad rubbish. I've certainly heard that said, but if you're talking about people who have a right of residence in Australia, if you're talking about Australians born and bred, Australian citizens who are born in this country and that's the case with the vast majority of these people, they have a right to be here. They have a right to be here, and frankly if they have a right to be here, I'd rather that they are here without the kind of experience and capability that they will gain over there than with the kind of experience and capability that they can gain over there, because frankly, if they do gain that experience and capability and they do come back to our country, the only safe place for them is in a maximum security prison.

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

I think there are two issues. The first is that yes, amongst the people whose passports have been cancelled, clearly all of them are of considerable concern, and we have an obligation in my view – under international conventions if nothing else – not to export criminals and terrorists to other countries knowingly. And the second issue is, as the Prime Minister said, if people are going to go overseas and get additional training, heightened commitment to terrorist activities, and then come back to Australia, those people represent a significantly greater threat, both in terms of intent and capability than they had before they left.

QUESTION:

So when we think of terrorist threats, Bali comes to mind. If the threat you are considering is now higher that we now have that kind of threat, or do these people returning from overseas pose some different kind of threat?

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

I think people returning overseas and the people who are here who support this violent extremism represent a general threat that can manifest itself in many ways. It could manifest itself in a Bali-type attack or it could manifest itself in the various other sorts of attacks from loners through to small groups through to large activities such as Bali that we've seen elsewhere in the world. They're the sorts of things that we're concerned about.

QUESTION:

You said you made this decision last night. Why was it made last night? What was the tipping point that led you to come to this decision?

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

This decision has been growing or building if you like as our concern has been building over the past year and particularly over the last 3-6 months. We came to that decision over a period of time, but certainly in the last couple of weeks we've been focusing on it very, very heavily and we got to that point last night, where I was able to sign off on it.

QUESTION:

But you say there's no link between the announcement that President Barack Obama made and where Australia might sit within that and your decision-making?

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

No, our decision-making is based on the circumstances in Australia as we see them.

QUESTION:

You said, Prime Minister, that you want people to go about their ordinary business as much as possible. Do you have a message of reassurance for sections of the community? I'm thinking particularly the Muslim community within Australia who might feel targeted by raising the threat level in this way?

PRIME MINISTER:

The only people who should feel in any way impacted by this are would-be terrorists and the supporters of would-be terrorists. I can't make myself plainer. This is not about any particular community, this is about crime and potential crime. I might ask George Brandis to add to this, but as far as I am concerned, every Australian is part of our team. Every Australian is part of our team. The phrase I like is ‘Team Australia' and the beauty of team Australia is that anybody who is prepared to show a commitment to this country is part of it. The great thing about all of our migrant communities is that they have come to this country, they've voted with their feet for our country and no-one loves Australia more than the people who have come to this country through deliberate choice and their children. Generally speaking, no-one loves Australia more than people who are conscious of all the benefits of life in this country.

So, I just want to completely dispel any idea that this is about religion. It's not. I want to completely dispel any idea that this is about particular communities. It's not. This is about ensuring that this marvellous country of ours, a beacon of hope and optimism to people from all around the world, continues to be just that amongst the freest, the fairest and the most prosperous countries on earth.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL:

You've mentioned the Muslim community and what the Prime Minister says is absolutely correct. This is not about any particular community, but it is a sad fact that the wicked people who recruit and exhort to violence – Australian citizens – are preying upon the Muslim community. So, as to encourage their young men – it's almost always young men – to fight in wars in the Middle East.

So, the Prime Minister and I have had several meetings in recent weeks with leaders of the Muslim community and we've been at great pains to make this point to them. Their communities are victims of these wicked people. All of us as Australians are potentially victims of these wicked people, but the Muslim community in particular is exposed and, therefore, the steps that we are taking and the legislation we are preparing in consultation with that community in particular, is designed to protect them, to protect them and their interests and their communities.

QUESTION:

What's actually being done in terms of these 60-120? Do you know who they are? Are you keeping tabs on them? Can the Australian people be reassured that nothing is going to happen? Do you know who they are? Do you know what's going on?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I'll ask the Director-General to add to this, but there are at least 60 that we know about that are fighting in the Middle East. These are people who, obviously, we are able to keep tabs on to some extent and as far as we humanly can. If these people were to come back to our country, we would arrest them, we would prosecute them, and we would jail them, because the only safe place for people who have been militarised and brutalised by terrorist experiences in the Middle East, which are utterly repugnant to Australian law, is a maximum security prison. The difficulty is that some of these people are quite sophisticated. There may be some that we don't know about. There may be some that we do know about who are able to evade us, and that's why it's important to be constantly vigilant at every level. This is why it's important to be in the closest possible cooperation with the intelligence and security agencies of other countries and certainly this is what Australia has long been, a very reliable and trustworthy partner to the security agencies of other countries. Not just our five eyes partners, but the security agencies of the countries in our region and increasingly the countries in the Middle East, as well.

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

I think that no Director-General of security in a truly democratic country can give you an absolute guarantee that there is not going to be some sort of incident. I worry, and worried for five and a half years, about lone wolves popping up who've avoided the radar in some way or another. So yes, that is a risk. At the same time, I think the public should be assured that law enforcement throughout Australia, Commonwealth and Federal Police working with ASIO are doing their very best and their very professional best to monitor the situation.

We work on the basis that if we do discover something that is moving from, say, talk and chatter to real intent and actual planning, then we would try to stop things as quickly as we could. Rather than letting them going on, which often enables you to build a stronger legal case, because on the other hand if you do let them go on, then you pose ultimately a greater risk to the public if something goes off prematurely. So, that's the sort of parameter, set of parameters within which we're working.

QUESTION:

You've said that the only safe place for those who come back is a maximum security prison. How confident are you that all of those who are likely to come back or do come back will be able to be charged, found guilty and put into a maximum security prison?

PRIME MINISTER:

Ok, look, that's a good question, Tony. As you know there are several tranches of legislation that are either in the Parliament or soon to be in the Parliament. We've got an agency powers piece of legislation that is currently before the Parliament and I hope might be dealt with in the next sitting fortnight. In the next sitting fortnight I'm hopeful that we will also bring a further package of legislation into the Parliament dealing with actual terrorist offences and before the end of the year I believe that we will have ready, thanks to the Attorney and other ministers, a package of legislation on things like metadata.

So, we are determined to ensure that we have the legal tools at our command to effectively prosecute and jail people who have been working with terrorist organisations overseas. We have significant powers already, largely those that were put in place under the Howard Government. The legislation that is currently in the Parliament is designed to extend those powers, many of which sunsetted, but there's new legislation that we hope to have in the Parliament in the next fortnight that will make us more confident that we do have the legal tools necessary to ensure that people who are participating in terrorist activity overseas can, in fact, be dealt with appropriately.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL:

Well, as the Prime Minister says, there are basically three tranches of legislation. I won't repeat what the Prime Minister has said, but I can tell you that in relation to the foreign fighters’ legislation, it is my intention, subject to the ordinary processes of the Government, of course, to introduce that legislation in the first sitting week of the next sitting fortnight. I've had meetings with officials as recently as the day before yesterday to finalise the bill. It will extend, in some careful and targeted respects, the reach of the existing law to deal specifically with the foreign fighters’ problem.

The other point I'd make to you, Tony, is that law reform is only an element of a totality here. The Cabinet has signed off on a range of measures; including additional resources for the agency, community engagement strategies which are terribly, terribly important here, the legislation of which we've been speaking, governance structures within the government to ensure we adopt a whole of government approach to this matter.

So, we are absolutely determined to ensure that Australia is ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting our people from this threat.

QUESTION:

Is there any suggestion that there ought to be a special maximum security prison set-up for a specific class of prisoner – i.e. terrorists?

PRIME MINISTER:

That's not part of our current planning.

QUESTION:

You compared the Australian system, the rating system, with the UK. As I understand it, the Americans have done away with their system. They used to have a colour-coded system. Do you have a concern that over the weeks ahead, hopefully there's no terrorist attack, but that people might think that the Government is crying wolf on this issue? That the danger of raising it to high now, that people will become complacent, that they'll think this is not a real issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again I stress that the actual terror threat level is not determined by government, it's determined by the experts. It's the Director-General of security, David Irvine, who makes these decisions based on his expert advice and we simply respond to the expert advice that we've received.

Now, having received the expert advice that the threat level has gone from medium to high, I think we are duty-bound – duty-bound and honour-bound – to do what we can to take the public into our confidence and that's exactly what I'm doing today.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can I ask you on a couple of unrelated matters?

PRIME MINISTER:

We might take another couple of questions. But have we dealt with security-related issues?

QUESTION:

Can I ask a follow-up on that same issue. Doesn't it then become a risk that this sort of ratings system, lowering it becomes very difficult, because as you've been talking about, we don't have a full picture of what may be a raid against Australia? So, it's a risk then, is it not, for security agencies to be forced to say ok we can go back to medium at some stage in the future?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, as I said at the beginning, the threat level has gone up because of an accumulation of indicators. If those indicators change, the threat level can go down. For instance, if the numbers participating in terrorist groups in the Middle East were to reduce, if the potency and power of those terrorist groups in the Middle East were to be degraded, if the numbers supporting them were to reduce, if there were no exhortations coming from the Middle East to supporters here in Australia – if all of those things were happening, obviously, that would be a sound basis for our experts to reduce the threat level.

QUESTION:

Mr Colvin, we hear at the airport there'll be greater security. What does that mean?

ACTING COMMISSIONER COLVIN:

Thank you, I think what we can expect to see at places like airports, increased police presence, but as I said before, I don't think the community or the public should be concerned that that will be intrusive or in any way impede with them going about their normal daily business. Airports obviously are always something that we pay particular attention to and in the case of our international airports the AFP will be looking very closely at our patrolling patterns and what our police presence should be. But I want to reassure the public again that we want them to be aware, but we want them to be assured. While they may see more police, it won't get in the way of them going about their daily business.

QUESTION:

At special events where you said there would be extra police in attendance, as a lay person I would have thought if someone intending to do something, a couple of extra police in the building wouldn't change anything?

ACTING COMMISSIONER COLVIN:

I think what you will find for major sporting events now there's already very good sophisticated layers of security. So again, I don't think we should expect to see massive changes to that. I don't want to speculate on particular grand finals or particular events. Of course my state police colleagues have a large role to play in that and they'll be in close contact with event organisers, as they would be. So, the NRL the AFL, any other event organisers - it's a normal part of our business. I think on that though, it's important to get the message out there that if there are businesses or event organisers that have security plans, now is the time to check them, now is the time to have a look at them. Make sure contact details are right, make sure they're relevant, that they've updated them and be confident if they have those security plans that the law enforcement and security agencies in this country will be able to support them.

QUESTION:

David Irvine, I'm just wondering given you're about to retire, is there anything with the benefit of hindsight you might have done differently, knowing what you know now, looking back at your time?

DIRECTOR-GENERAL IRVINE:

I think, probably not. I inherited a very, very professional security intelligence organisation and I hope I leave it at least as professional an organisation that works with the community and we've put a lot of effort into that. An organisation that is technically able to collect the sort of intelligence you need and I think we put a lot of work into that, as well. There's always more you want to do, but I'm very happy to be handing over an organisation to Duncan Lewis who succeeds me, an organisation that I believe is in good shape.

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just add that David, in all sorts of capacities has given sterling service to our country over 40-odd years now and the decision that he's made to raise the threat level is the product of many years of public service, many years of consistent steady judgment and obviously of five years in this particular job. I should also stress that there will be a seamless handover to Duncan Lewis. I believe the precise point of handover is midnight on Sunday. That's when David's tenure ends and Duncan Lewis's tenure begins.

Duncan Lewis is an official of immense experience and expertise. Former Special Forces commander, former national security adviser in the Prime Minister's office, former secretary to the Department of Defence and until very recently, Australia's ambassador to NATO, so I think the public can be confident that the security of our country continues to be in the best possible hands.

Ok, if there are no further questions on security issues, I might bid the Attorney, the Director-General and the Commissioner goodbye and I'll take a couple of questions on other issues.

QUESTION:

Can I ask you firstly what you think of Daniel Andrews's new position on the East West Link and does this impact on Federal money that's been promised?

PRIME MINISTER:

I just think it's bizarre to have a would-be Premier say one day that contracts are sacrosanct and then the next day that contracts will be torn up, because he's in the pockets of the inner city Greens. The East West Link is an absolutely vital piece of infrastructure for Melbourne, for Victoria, for Australia.

Plainly, it will be built under the Coalition. It won't be built under Labor and I think there must be many decent Labor people throughout this city who are dismayed that the State Labor leader has allowed himself to be driven by the Greens in this way.

As for the money, the money is committed to the project, the Commonwealth thinks that this project is essential for our nation, as well as being essential for Melbourne and Victoria. I'm confident that the project will go ahead, because I'm confident that particularly in the light of this latest from the Opposition Leader in Victoria, I'm confident that the Napthine Government will remain.

QUESTION:

And Rosie Batty whose son Luke was murdered by his father has told a Senate Inquiry this morning that she believes there needs to be greater political leadership around family violence. Do you agree and if so, what can politicians do?

PRIME MINISTER:

This was an utterly, utterly tragic incident. Just a horrific incident, horrific beyond belief and I spoke briefly to Rosie Batty in the aftermath of the incident. I made a modest donation to the Luke Batty Foundation in the aftermath of the incident once that was set up, and I will do everything I can both as a citizen and as a Prime Minister to try to ensure that the safety of our community is everyone's number one priority. As a citizen, as an official, as a parent, as a member of the community, obviously, the safety of the community is absolutely paramount.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23819