Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Paris attacks; National security






SUBJECT: Paris attacks; National security


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone. It's a very sad day right across the world, as the details of the atrocities in Paris becomes even more clear. I condemn absolutely the atrocities in Paris. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends. Our thoughts are in solidarity with the people of France and, indeed, the other cities and regions which have seen terrorism in the last few days and weeks. We wish Emma Parkinson all the best for her recovery.

I'd also like to congratulate the work of the Australian Ambassador and our Foreign Affairs team in Paris who, by all accounts, are acquitting themselves very well in the support of Australians. Today it's more important than ever that Labor signals its ongoing support for the Government and Malcolm Turnbull. Today is a day where we remind everyone that, if the terrorists hope they can divide us, they're not going to succeed in Australia. I've taken the attitude for the last two years, with the rise of the terrorist scourge of ISIL, that it is most important that the political parties of Australia stick together. If the terrorists think they can divide Australian life by their atrocities, then they severely under-estimate the resilience of Australian people. Happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: Do you consider the fight against ISIS a war?

SHORTEN: Well, it's a dreadful conflict. Certainly ISIS consider themselves at war with peace-loving peoples everywhere. They consider themselves at war with Muslim people and Christian people throughout the world. I am a strong supporter of the extra laws and resources we've given our domestic law enforcement and security agencies and I am a strong supporter of the allied air effort to interdict and destroy ISIS in northern Iraq and in parts of Syria.

JOURNALIST: Have you been briefed on the terror threat here in Australia?

SHORTEN: I'm having a briefing with representatives of our security agencies in the next hour.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the threat level needs to change?

SHORTEN: I think politicians shouldn't second guess what the security agencies think. If the security agencies think that the existing level is adequate, then I'll be guided by them. If they seek a change to it, then I'll also be guided by them. I just want to stress to Australians that when security agencies have sought extra resources and the powers to deal with this scourge with these atrocity makers, both sides of politics have been willing to work through and provide our law enforcement agencies and security with the resources that they require.

JOURNALIST: Tanya Plibersek told Sky News this morning that we need to have a discussion about whether we need to do more in Syria and Iraq. Do you believe Labor, should Labor support the idea we might need to do more there?

SHORTEN: I'm very supportive of what our Australian Defence Forces are doing there right now. I'm very supportive of the national political direction to make sure we have strong domestic security. If there is the case to be made for greater expansion that will be shown to be effective, that case will be made.

JOURNALIST: It is believed one of the attackers entered Europe through Greece among the influx of refugees. If this is proven to be the case, is the implication from that that we need tougher border security including here in Australia?

SHORTEN: Well, what I don't want to do is tar all refugees with the same brush. It is important we have security screening, absolutely. Labor is absolutely committed to opposing Daesh, or ISIL, or  ISIS, by whatever name the terrorist organisation goes by. I don't believe all refugees should be condemned for the actions of one or two though.

JOURNALIST: Turnbull has reportedly said in G20 that Australia could send peacekeepers to Syria in the event there is a political solution there. Would you support that?

SHORTEN: Australia is already contributing to peacekeeping contingents in these regions. I think we would need to have a peace plan and peace deal before you can send peacekeepers. It may well be premature to conjecture about sending Australian peacekeepers until there's a peace arrangement. Syria is a bloodthirsty conflict, it goes back and has many, many origins and it's got many angles to it. Obviously, like everyone we'd be pleased to see peace plan and peace break out in Syria but I'm not sure that we're very well advanced down that track.

JOURNALIST: Will Labor help propose legislation to strip citizenship of dual nationals past the Parliament quickly since it has been changed according to a bipartisan committee?

SHORTEN: Labor's been working on this security legislation, the citizenship legislation. Obviously stripping citizenship of people with Australian citizenship is a most serious matter. But, I'm pleased that Labor's worked with the Government. We came up with 27 recommendations to make sure the initial proposed laws were actually workable and we are moving these through the Parliament very quickly.

JOURNALIST: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott declined to give advice on whether we need more troops on the ground this morning? Do you welcome him staying out of the debate given the events of the last 24 hours or so?

SHORTEN: Tony Abbott's got a contribution to make I think. Of course, the Government's now run by Malcolm Turnbull so I wouldn't overstate Tony Abbott's role but when he was Prime Minister, when it came to national security, we worked together I'm not going to start disparaging individuals on the Liberal side at all. In fact, people don't want to hear about politician A having a crack at politician B. I'm not going to do that. I'm very clear here. I've always taken the attitude that when it comes to dealing with terrorism, the political parties of Australia need to stick together. I'm very clear that if the terrorists think they can divide Australian society well they severely under-estimate Australian resolve.

Thanks everyone.