Television Interview - Sky News First Edition

12 Oct 2022
Prime Minister
Anniversary of the Bali bombings; Keeping Australians safe from terrorism; Australian support for Ukraine

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: It is now 20 years since the Bali bombings. Joining us live from Coogee is the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. Prime Minister, good morning to you. Appreciate your time on what is a very sombre day. How do you reflect on a day like today?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is a solemn day Pete, and for the families and friends of the 88 Australians who lost their lives 20 years ago today, it will be a particularly sad day. But also a day of memories of the devastating impact that occurred 20 years ago when the war on terror and this barbaric act reached our shores. And that had an incredible impact, I think, on Australians. People regarded Bali as this holiday destination, a place of joy and fun. And to think that family holidays and holidays of teams like the Coogee Dolphins celebrating their end of season, was disrupted with murder and mayhem in this atrocity, I think shocked Australians and still shocks us today.

STEFANOVIC: Everyone remembers what they were doing, Prime Minister, what sticks with you? What were you doing at the time?

PRIME MINISTER: What sticks with me was the impact on the Dulwich Newtown Basketball Club, they were up there on an end of season trip and people lost their lives, including the youngest victim. Debbie and Abbey Borgia were a mum travelling with a young daughter on an end of season trip and today, we still, of course, commemorate Debbie and Abbey Borgia through a community centre that's named after them in Marrickville. So much uncertainty was there, from students from Dulwich High School and Marrickville High School and others who participated. And just getting the information out because it wasn't clear, of course, for days exactly who the victims were, whether everyone was okay. The communications were so uncertain. Watching, of course, the victims come in to get support in Darwin, in Perth, the extraordinary bravery that occurred as well. The stories of people running towards danger to help the victims of these bombings. It was a horrific time here in Australia, and it had an impact of course around the world. There were 202 victims from around the world, from dozens of countries, because Bali was and is that place where people gather to enjoy each other's company.

STEFANOVIC: You did point to the war on terror, and when it finally reached Australia, how much did that particular attack, and we should remember that there were attacks at the time not long after that as well, how did that change our national security to get to where it is today?

PRIME MINISTER: I think, Australia got, as the world did I think, a wake-up call from the appalling attack in New York just a year earlier, of course. And that, I think, shocked the whole world. I remember staying up at night watching that live as the plane hit the second tower and then the further attacks on the Pentagon, and then it came so much closer to our shore. Of course, Australians were victims there in New York as well on September 11. But then for it to occur in Bali meant that since that day there's been a bipartisan commitment to ensure that we do whatever we can to keep Australians safe. The increased support for our national security agencies, the increased support for intelligence agencies like ASIO, the work of ASIS, the work of the Office of National Intelligence, the work of the AFP, the work of our defence forces and personnel, all united to keep us safe, and a recognition that, tragically in today's uncertain world, we do need to make sure that we are vigilant. And from that day, the level of security, I think, really stepped up. And it is, I think, something for us to think about as well, to give our thanks to those people who have kept us safe. There have been plots, as we know, for terrorist attacks on places like the MCG, that have been thwarted due to the fine work of those who are committed to keeping us safe. So today is a day, as well, to thank the authorities and to recognise their ongoing work.

STEFANOVIC: War is ever-present, as we all know, now it's in Ukraine. You had a conversation with Volodymyr Zelenskyy last night. What was discussed, Prime Minister, and what did you commit to?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, President Zelenskyy and I have had now a number of discussions, including face to face when I visited Kyiv. Firstly, I expressed our condolences on behalf of the Australian people for the loss of innocent people who have been victims to the appalling targeting of civilians in Kyiv and other cities around Ukraine over the last 48 hours. President Zelenskyy put forward a range of requests that we'll consider. We are, of course, the largest non-NATO contributor to support the defence of Ukraine. We understand, as do other democratic nations that the struggle of the people of Ukraine led so ably, courageously and indeed with inspiration by President Zelenskyy, fighting not just for their own national sovereignty, they're fighting for the international rule of law. They’re fighting for United Nations processes. They're fighting for the rights of every country to regard its borders as sovereign. They're fighting for human rights and for decency. These actions of Vladimir Putin are just appalling, are against international law, and are against basic humanity. This targeting of civilians is, again, a reminder of the extent to which Vladimir Putin is prepared to go. Australia stands with the people of Ukraine and we will be giving further support and we'll give consideration of the requests and make an announcement at an appropriate time.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, well, one of those options being considered is military personnel. Will you send military personnel to train troops outside Ukraine?

PRIME MINISTER: We'll give consideration to that. We're in discussions with the Department of Defence and I've spoken of course to Richard Marles, the Defence Minister. We had a National Security Committee meeting yesterday and we will, after I've had the personal discussion with President Zelenskyy, we'll always do whatever we can to provide support to the people of Ukraine. And I'm pleased that this has been a bipartisan commitment that we have mad.

STEFANOVIC: A sombre morning on a few different fronts. Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister, thank you so much for sharing some of your time with us. We'll talk to you again soon.