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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky Agenda: 23 March 2016: Brussels attack; Australia's national security arrangements; working with the Muslim community



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The Hon Michael Keenan MP Minister for Justice

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism

TRANSCRIPT Wednesday 23 March 2016

Sky Agenda with Kieran Gilbert Perth, WA

Subjects: Brussels attack, Australia’s national security arrangements, working with the Muslim community.

E&OE…

KIERAN GILBERT

We’re live to the Justice Minister Michael Keenan now from Perth. Justice Minister thanks for your time. A soft target as we know, at Australia’s airports give us a sense of the layered security? Could this sort of thing happen in Australian facilities?

MICHAEL KEENAN

Well Australian airports have very robust security and responsibility for the airports is taken by the Federal Police in conjunction with Australian Border Force. We do have multi-layered security. It’s impossible of course to give a blanket guarantee that nothing will ever happen just like we can’t give a blanket guarantee about the possibility of a terrorist attack. But we do have very secure facilities in Australia and despite the dreadful atrocity that we’re witnessing in Belgium, the fundamentals of Australia’s security have not changed.

KIERAN GILBERT

Now this radical Islamic attack and jihad we’ve seen already - claimed so many lives in Paris in November of last year and months later in Europe again. The perpetrators we know came from Molenbeek area of Brussels and yet this attack could be carried out. Does this show that the Belgian security system and its intelligence apparatus is flawed?

MICHAEL KEENAN

Obviously there is enormous risk in Europe at the moment because of factors that we don’t face here in Australia. I’ve just been to Europe and I know the authorities there are working very hard to do all that they can to keep their countries safe from this vicious enemy. But clearly there’s some risks there, particularly in terms of uncontrolled migration of people at the moment. And also the fact that it’s probably easier to get weapons in Europe than it would be in a country like Australia. So look there is risk there, but the European authorities are working very hard to stop these sorts of tings from happening. This atrocity is a reminder about the viciousness and the barbarity of the enemy that we are all facing together.

KIERAN GILBERT

In terms of our intelligence, we’ve seen two arrests yesterday, a further two from Operation Appleby. In terms of this extremist Islamist threat in this country I know we seek to learn from all of these events, but do you feel at the moment that our agencies like the AFP have enough resources and support to get this done?

MICHAEL KEENAN

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last 18 months improving the legislative environment in which the AFP and their partners in the intelligence community operation. We’ve also given them an enormous about of extra resourcing to be able to do this job. The arrests that were made yesterday were not made because all those people were planning an imminent attack. They didn’t pose an immediate threat to Australian security. We have - because of the work of our agencies - stopped six terror attacks in Australia. And we believe, because we’ve really been ahead of the curve in doing all that we can to secure Australia, that we have got our security posture right and that our authorities do have the powers and resources required to keep us safe.

KIERAN GILBERT

And Minister Keenan are we still seeing the cooperation necessary from families in the community, because obviously within the Islamic community itself in this country there are fears from some parents and so on about their own children potentially being radicalised, is that sort of information still

forthcoming? Is this still the frontline in the intelligence agencies surveillance and monitoring of the Islamist extremist threat here?

MICHAEL KEENAN

It’s absolutely vital that we work hand in glove with the community. Its up to the community to provide us with the sorts of communication that we do need to keep our country safe. That cooperation has been forthcoming and of course we’ve been working very hard to reach out to the Muslim community in Australia to remind them they are vitally important part of our community and that the Australian Government is not against them, we stand with them. They have been very cooperative and they do work very closely with us and we’re very happy with that cooperation and I think the sorts of messages the government has been sending to the community about the importance of continuing to work with us are very important.

KIERAN GILBERT

Minister I appreciate your time this morning and your response to this latest atrocity in Europe sadly. Thank you for your time, talk to you soon.

MICHAEL KEENAN

No worries, thanks Kieran.

-END-