May 26, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Manchester attack, Labor Party 

LISA WILKINSON: Shock and revulsion over the Manchester bombing continues to be felt around the world. Here it’s prompted authorities to review how major events are policed and the role we can all play in being vigilant. Joining me now for more is Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. Good morning to both of you.



LISA WILKINSON: Excellent to have you both together.

ALBANESE: Congratulations on your ten years.

PYNE: Absolutely.

WILKINSON: Thank you. But it is appropriate that you two are together, because that’s the one thing that we want to come out of this Manchester attack. It’s for people to unite against evil. But Christopher, people are nervous, what is the Government doing right now to make sure that the Australian public is safe at large public gatherings?

PYNE: Well, Lisa, when something terrible like this happens, as happened at Manchester Arena, the Government immediately responds by reviewing whether we have all the legislative powers in place that our security forces need, agencies like ASIO and ASIS and the Australian Signals Directorate as well as the Australian Federal Police.

We have mechanisms, apparatus in place to work with the all the state police forces so if there is anything more we can do to add to their powers we will do it. And fortunately, it is a bipartisan area, so if we propose more changes to the law Labor almost always supports those.

The second thing of course we can do is to make sure that our security forces are properly financed, properly funded by the Government and we think we have got those things in place. And of course, we think about how we can support Britain in this case with intelligence and with support, just moral support.

But no government can guarantee that all of our public are safe all the time, and the Manchester Arena bombing is particularly heinous, because the suicide bomber blew himself up not inside the stadium, so there were no bag checks that could have stopped that happening. He waited until the end of a concert, until people were leaving and he was outside the venue. So it’s a very evil act.

WILKINSON: Anthony, do you think the Government is spending enough right now on fighting terror?

ALBANESE: The Government and the Opposition are as one. This is a time where the government is not the Liberal Party, the government is us, on behalf of the nation. That’s the way it should be. It’s the way it was when Labor was in government, it’s the way it is today. All Australians are horrified by the attack and anyone with a child just thinks of the tragedy of parents wondering where their kids were, who went to that concert.

All of us have a responsibility, not just government I think, but civil society as well, to engage as one. I think the best scene that I saw in Manchester was that amazing gathering of what looked like the entire city of Mancunians coming out in public, in solidarity, to say we won’t be defeated, we won’t be cowered.

WILKINSON: Christopher, in the wake of the Lindt siege cafe findings the NSW Police Commissioner wants shoot-to-kill laws so that his officers can take a life to save a life. Do you agree with that?

PYNE: Well, I’m surprised that those laws don’t exist at the NSW level already. I’m sure in some guise they actually do, because obviously the police have the power to shoot to kill in a situation where people are in danger. It’s been happening for many decades in Australia. In fact, there’s been criticism that sometimes certain police forces have been too ready to do so. So, I’d need to actually get the detail of what more he thinks he needs to do. That’s, of course, a matter for the NSW Government, but obviously if the NSW Police had acted even sooner in Lindt, apparently ten minutes earlier, it may have been a different outcome.

But as the NSW Police Commissioner himself said that wouldn’t guarantee there won’t be causalities because when you have guns and crazy people in a situation like that you cannot guarantee that everyone is safe.

WILKINSON: There are currently six Victorian youths who are considered at risk of violent extremism. What more can we do to make sure that these people don’t act? How close is the surveillance of these people?

PYNE: The most important thing we can do is collect as much intelligence as possible and work with the communities that are at risk, if there are communities at risk.

WILKINSON: But what about monitoring these people in particular?

PYNE: Well we are monitoring those people. Let me tell you, in the last little while we have interdicted 12 attempted terrorist attacks in Australia, we have arrested 63 Australians, only last week we arrested another South Australian person on this occasion. So, our forces are very effective.

Now, I can’t guarantee that we will never have a terrorist attack like the one at Manchester Arena, but we have been very lucky in Australia and one of the reasons is because our security forces are really on top of this and our intelligence gathering is second to none.

WILKINSON: Alright, well let’s sincerely hope that’s the case. And Anthony, I just have to say to you quickly it’s great to see you talking. Barnaby Joyce says that you’ve been silenced by Bill Shorten, what’s going on there?

PYNE: He’s mute.

ALBANESE: Not true, of course. I’m happy to be here in Campbelltown, Mike Freelander country here.

WILKINSON: You haven’t been silenced by Bill Shorten’s office?

ALBANESE: I’m here on The Today Show, I’ll be on another program on a non-commercial network tonight.

PYNE: He’s on the campaign trail.

ALBANESE: Just to give the ABC a plug as well. I’m out there doing my job.

PYNE: Before we go, can I just say it’s been a great pleasure to be working with you for the last five years on The Today Show.

WILKINSON: Thank you Christopher.

PYNE: So congratulations on your 10 years. It’s been a wonderful time.

WILKINSON: Thank you. And we always appreciate you coming on every Friday. It’s lovely to work with both of you.

ALBANESE: It’s been great.

PYNE: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good on you Lisa.

WILKINSON: Thank you.