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NSW Parliament House: transcript of doorstop interview: terrorist attack on the United States.

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Laurie Brereton - Terrorist Attack On The United States //media/0901/lbmcnsw120901.html Wednesday, 12 September 2001

Doorstop Interview

Laurie Brereton - Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Subject: Terrorist Attack On The United States

Transcript - NSW Parliament House - 12 September 2001


Brereton: We've all witnessed overnight the worst single act of evil, of terrorism, that's been perpetrated in our lifetime. That's certainly the case and it now marks a whole new era and a whole new form of terrorism, mass terrorism involving the loss of many thousands of lives.

Somewhere in the world today, somewhere out there, there are some people watching CNN and not sharing the horror that we all feel towards these events. There will be someone admiring their handiwork and they're the people, the perpetrators who must be identified and held to account. And Australia should, and I know will, do everything it can to play it's part in the world efforts to bring these people to justice; to hold them to account.

I think we've all been enormously impressed by the dignity of President Bush in his address to the American people and to the world, and the American system of democracy is rising to its great strength in the face of this most dreadful of events.

Journalist: Can it change the way we secure our aeroplanes and …?

Brereton: I think in the aftermath of this, the whole world will need to very carefully review all of the arrangements for the security of our airports and our commercial aircraft. It is quite frankly unbelievable if we hadn't seen it with our own eyes that four commercial aircraft could be hijacked at the same time in the United States of America. This will undoubtedly mean a great deal more restriction on personal freedom and a great deal more scrutiny and security and that is clearly overdue.

Journalist: What about our bilateral relationships … ?

Brereton: I think the Australian Parliament will in the next two weeks; consider legislation that will strengthen the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Labor believes that that should pass through the Parliament anything that we can do to enhance the capacity of our intelligence services. This will be most

valuable. And Australia, as a friend and an ally and an alliance partner of the United States certainly has a role to play in respect of an international effort that of pursuing these dreadful villains who are responsible for this gross act of exterminating Americans, innocent Americans, in the world's greatest act of international terrorism.

Journalist: ASIO Legislation, was this coming up anyway?

Brereton: That's the ASIS legislation, which will enhance the capacity of our secret intelligence service.

Journalist: ...inaudible...

Brereton: … by putting the Agency on a statutory basis and providing appropriate immunity when necessary in respect of their activities. It will provide them with the opportunity of doing a number of things that they felt unsure of in the past. It will enhance their capacity and that is something the Opposition will certainly be looking to see pass through the Parliament. It's the subject of some recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and we will be doing everything we can to see this legislation given a speedy passage through the Parliament.

Journalist: Because the bombers have yet to be identified, will Australia be involved in any emergency management logistics in case this happens in Australia?

Brereton: I think our Prime Minister has announced a range of measures and the acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, has announced a series of steps that have been taken by the Australian Government. This has the full support of the Opposition and indeed the whole body politic in Australia. It's particularly important that we be absolutely united in our approach and our support for the United States in the pursuit of the perpetrators of this crime. We need to stand united and full-square with the United States and I am certain that Australians will do precisely that.

Journalist: What was your personal reaction when your first saw the images on television?

Brereton: I sat up like so many Australians watching those images of horror that were so compelling and so awful. There wouldn't be anyone who was not struck with a profound sense of sadness to see so many lives snuffed out. That said, the important thing is for the great democracy not to retreat and the effort of President Bush in his very dignified and courageous address to the American nation and to the world at large is a step forward in that respect.

Ends Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.