MICHAEL USHER: Prime Minister thank you for your time this evening. It really is a lot to take in, quite overwhelming in fact, You’ve been briefed at the highest levels today. The main suspect is from our country. What is the Australian Federal Police investigating tonight? What might you be able to shed some light on there?
PRIME MINISTER: Well the investigation is spanning both obviously New Zealand and here in Australia. The Joint Counter Terrorism operations which investigate these matters have been stood up here in New South Wales and investigations are being undertaken now in relation to this individual. He’s an Australian-born citizen and he is a right-wing, extremist, violent terrorist. That’s what he is and we’ve got to call this out for what it is.
It has just been the most shocking and shuddering of events and particularly, our hearts go out to all New Zealanders and to all those of Islamic faith here in Australia as well as in New Zealand. We just want to reach out to them today and say; “We will stand with you.”
USHER: Prime Minister it is an uncomfortable, even sickening truth that this shooter is a home-grown terrorist from New South Wales. Can you reassure us on an any of the information that you may have, that he has no further links or supporters here?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I can’t offer too much comment on these things this evening, other than to say that in response to these terrorist incidents there is an automatic process which our authorities and police around the country immediately move into. That has been undertaken and that happened earlier today. All steps are taken to ensure the safety of Australians and there is a high level of cooperation directly between New Zealand and Australian authorities. They are investigating and taking action in relation to this terrorist act.
USHER: Do we need to be concerned about any similar attacks here? Any extra protection for mosques in particular?
PRIME MINISTER: Well these steps are already being taken as you’d expect them to be. The terrorist threat level in Australia remains unchanged on the advice of ASIO to me today. But always, always, I think we need to be mindful of these threats. Terrorism comes in all forms and in this case, it came in the form of right-wing radical extremism.
USHER: It’s good advice of yours, to give everyone a hug on this subject, but what do we say to New Zealand, our closest friends, this will never be forgotten?
PRIME MINISTER: We say kia kaha, which is Maori for “stay strong”. Whanau is the word for family in Maori and that’s how we see New Zealanders and I expressed our sincere condolences to all of them, our sympathies and our prayers and thoughts and I wished Prime Minister Ardern - who I will be speaking with again - every support we can provide to them at this time. Christchurch is such a peaceful place. It has been rocked by tragedy before, but not of this kind. This is a very evil kind and we will be doing everything to support them in very possible way we can.
USHER: Indeed. Alright Prime Minister we really appreciate your time, thank you.