Today is another difficult day for those involved in the White Island volcano disaster in New Zealand, for people who remain in hospital and families who have received the most devastating of news, and those still enduring the agony of awaiting news of their loved ones.

Our hearts go out to all of the Australians and their families caught up in this tragedy, and our Kiwi cousins across the Tasman.

This is a time of immense grief and great sorrow for everyone involved.

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning everyone. Before we go to the subject of today’s media conference for which I am joined by the Attorney-General I just want to say that there is no further information that I have to add to the media conference I held earlier this morning with the Minister for Foreign Affairs at Kirribilli, regarding the terrible tragedy that has occurred in New Zealand.

Our Government is committed to protecting every Australian from discrimination.

Today, we have released a second exposure draft of our Religious Discrimination Bill, which incorporates many of the key changes that were suggested by religious bodies and other stakeholders after the first draft Bill was released in August.

The release of the revised Bill for a further period of consultation will provide all members of the Australian community an opportunity to consider these revisions and whether the amended Bill further addresses the issues they have raised.

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, everyone. I'm joined by Foreign Minister Senator Payne. Today is a very difficult day for Australians and was indeed yesterday for our cousins across the Tasman in New Zealand. I have been speaking with Prime Minister Ardern over last night and again this morning, and the news we feared would be very difficult, and it is proving to be so. Yesterday, there were 24 Australians enjoying a wonderful cruise in New Zealand, taking in those sights together, enjoying life, a peaceful time. They were aged between 17 and 72.

PRIME MINISTER: I’m pleased to be here with the Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, and the Commissioner of the AFP. But before I speak about what we're here to announce today, there are almost 100 fires burning across New South Wales today. And I would again thank all of those authorities in New South Wales that are out there ensuring that people are being kept safe.

The Morrison Government is increasing counter-terrorism measures across nine airports by boosting the Australian Federal Police’s capability to disrupt and deter high-risk-incidents.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 135 additional police and protective service officers, as well as firearm and explosive detection canine handlers, would be rolled out over the next 18 months.

“My first priority is to keep Australians safe and these new measures will help protect thousands of Australians that travel and visit airports every day,” the Prime Minister said.

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning everyone. Earlier this year after the election, I sat down with all of the heads of the public service, after the election and I spoke of what my expectations were. I spoke of how at the last election it had been a victory for all of those Australians who are going out there, working hard every day, pursuing their honest, decent aspirations. And that our job as a government with the support of the public service was to deliver for them.

Today, I am announcing changes to the structure of the Australian Public Service (APS) as part of our reform agenda to put Australians at the centre of Government.

This morning, the Governor-General approved my recommendation to reduce the number of Government departments from 18 to 14, to ensure the services that Australians rely on are delivered more efficiently and effectively.

PRIME MINISTER: The Australian public are in no doubt about our Government’s commitment to strong borders. Our Government has always been consistent. The Liberal and National parties have always been consistent. We have always taken the actions necessary to ensure that Australians can have confidence in the way our borders are managed, which enables them to have confidence about how our immigration programme is managed. A year ago, the Labor Party sought to take advantage of the situation of the time to undermine our border protection regime which has been so successful.


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