3 October 2015
Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Curtis Cheng the NSW Police Service employee who was killed yesterday. I also want to praise the swift action of the special constables of NSW Police who brought that terrorist incident to a close. Only last week we observed Police Remembrance Day. We must never forget that our security, safety, indeed our democracy depends on the vigilance, professionalism, and courage of our police and security agencies, who every day are putting their lives and safety on the line to keep us safe.
As you know the Premier and Police Commissioner of NSW Mr Scipione have just given a press conference. I want to endorse what they have said. We should live our lives normally, especially on this Grand Final weekend. We should live our lives without fear. The Commonwealth agencies, the security services, the AFP and other agencies are working very closely with the NSW Police.
I have been in over last evening and today, in close contact with my own colleagues, the Attorney General Mr Brandis, Senator Brandis, the Justice Minister, Mr Keenan, the Foreign Minister and also with the Commissioner of Federal Police, Mr Colvin, the National Director of Security Mr Duncan Lewis and of course Mr Baird the Premier and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione. We are working very, very closely together and you will note that my remarks are consistent with theirs. We are working as a team.
Australians should understand that, that both State and Federal Government and all of our agencies are working together seamlessly with a common determined purpose to ensure the security of our nation and its people. Now as Mr Scipione has said, this appears to have been an act of politically motivated violence so at this stage it appears to have been an act of terrorism. It is a shocking crime. It was a cold-blooded murder, targeting the NSW Police Service.
It was doubly shocking because it was perpetrated by a 15-year-old boy and it underlines the importance of families, communities, leaders being very aware of whether young people are becoming radicalised. It is also important that to remember that the Australian Muslim community will be especially appalled and shocked by this. As Commissioner Scipione and the Premier have noted, we must not vilify or blame the entire Muslim community with the actions of what is, in truth, a very, very small percentage of violent extremist individuals.
The Muslim community are our absolutely necessary partners in combatting this type of violent extremism. Now I would note that we have been on a state of high alert in terms of terrorist acts for the last 12 months. The police, both State and Federal level, and security agencies across the country are continuing to be vigilant and professional in protecting us. The issue of radicalisation, particularly of young people, as young as 15 in this case, is a very, very complex one. At the Federal level, the Attorney-General's Department is running de-radicalisation programs, a great deal of work is being done on it at State level as well.It is very challenging to understand the rapid pace of radicalisation in a very, very small number of individuals who nonetheless can do great harm to others.
It is important to remember what I said at the outset, however, that we are utterly determined, totally united, professional and committed to ensuring Australia and its people are safe. We can be confident in the work of our security agencies and police. We cannot guarantee that incidents will not occur but it's important to understand that we have the best police services, the best intelligence services and we are staying on top of these issues. Its also important to understand the critical importance of the collaboration, co-operation with the Muslim community. Efforts to blame or vilify the Muslim community are utterly counterproductive.
And so, today is Grand Final weekend. We go on, we lead our lives, we are a strong and confident nation. We have challenges. Terrorism is one of them. But they must never divert us from our commitment to being free Australians, working together to ensure we achieve our common goals.
Thank you very much.