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Transcript of Press Conference of the Leader of the Opposition: Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices, Perth: 8 July 2005: London terrorist attack.

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Subjects: London terrorist attack

BEAZLEY: This is like an attack on the family. There are many Australians who feel a deep sense of kinship with the British people. The geography of this attack in London contains many sights and locations that are familiar to all of us, as indeed they are to myself.

We in the Australian Labor Party condemn utterly this cowardly attack. These terrorists are sub-human filth who must be captured and eliminated and we condemn them and their evil. The evil that they stand for must be confronted and they need to know that nothing that they do changes our values and nothing that they do eliminates our resolve to deal with them.

My heart goes out to the people who are affected by this barbaric attack. That may well include a number of Australians and we deeply hope that none of the Australians are among the fatalities. But to those who have been injured, our hearts go out to them. We wish them recovery, as indeed we do to the many British people who have been injured. And our deepest sympathy and condolences goes to the families of those who’ve been killed and injured.

I’ve had an opportunity in recent minutes to convey the Australian Labor Party’s condolences to the incoming British High Commissioner who just arrived in Australia this morning. A terrible thing for her, she got on the plane in London when the whole of the city was alive with celebrations for their marvellous win in becoming an Olympic city again and she got off the plane to the news of this terrible tragedy, this atrocity, in London. So, I was able to convey to her what I think is a strong sentiment amongst all the Australian people - that we stand alongside our British friends, our British relatives, in this very sad moment.

London is a marvellous city of all races and all religions. Australia is a nation of all races and all religions. There is a marvellous record down the centuries of tolerance, of compassion and of living and let live in the attitudes that they have to those who are their neighbours.

It is a city above all that is tough. It is a very tough city. I want to congratulate and express my admiration for the way in which the British people have

responded to these horrible events. You’ve seen in the Londoners who’ve been affected a stoic courage that is an example to us all. You’ve seen in the actions of their emergency service teams, extraordinary efficiency and rapid response and compassionate dealing, and understanding dealing, with the psychological and physical circumstances of those who have been affected. It has been exemplary the way in which the people of London have responded to this

outrage. It is an example to us all. They provide us yet again, as they’ve done for a very long period of time now, a model for how people behave in adversity and tragedy.

So, our message again is this: we condemn this cowardly attack. The terrorists are sub-human filth who must be captured and eliminated and we express our deepest condolences to the British people and to all those who have been affected either through fatalities or through injuries by this shocking outrage.

JOURNALIST: Are there lessons for Australia here, Mr Beazley?

BEAZLEY: I think we can take a leaf out of the book of the people of London in their stoic determination. I think we will no doubt come to learn a great deal about the effectiveness of their emergency service response and we can

learn from that.

We, of course, anticipate these events. While this was not predicted in detail, the assumption that something like this could occur has been on our minds both in this country, in London and elsewhere now, really since September 11. So, in that sense, these events are not a surprise. But because they are not a surprise, it doesn’t mean that they’re not to be condemned and outrage expressed.

So, we need to look carefully at all elements of the British response. We need to look to our own intelligence capabilities. We need to look to our own priorities and see where we see weaknesses and deal with those weaknesses.

JOURNALIST: Does this mean that Australia is likely to be targeted or perhaps faces an increasing possibility of being targeted?

BEAZLEY: Australia faces the possibility of being targeted. Already in South-East Asia, of course, Australian sights like our Embassy in Jakarta, Australian locations or locations where there are large numbers of Australians - as was the case in Bali - we have been targeted. We are, in South-East Asia, an al-Qaeda target. We know this from our private propaganda. We know if from the statements made by people in Jemaah Islamiyah, Australia is a target. We’re a target in the region and we’re a target in Australia. We have to have, in the way in which we respond to these terrorist events, a very high priority assigned to the region in which we are a target and that happens to be South-East Asia. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not concerned about events which take place elsewhere as well.

JOURNALIST: Do you think there’s any doubt about who the perpetrators are?

BEAZLEY: I notice from what the British are saying that an al-Qaeda group has claimed responsibility in a credible sort of way on the net. There is not a finality in any of that as yet but I think, in logic, it looks highly likely. It conforms to the pattern of al-Qaeda attacks.

JOURNALIST: Should Australia be concerned that we could be next?

BEAZLEY: Australians must be vigilant. We’re not simply next. We have already been. We have been deliberately targeted in our Embassy in Indonesia. We’ve been deliberately targeted in known gathering areas of Australians in Bali. So, we have already been targeted and we are conscious of the fact that we are potentially under threat.

JOURNALIST: But in terms of attacking this country?

BEAZLEY: Well, that’s something about which we have to keep total vigilance, that’s absolutely right.

JOURNALIST: The Australian Federal Police have been running a lot of counter-terrorism and surveillance in this country since September 11. What’s your knowledge of what’s actually been happening in Australia?

BEAZLEY: Quite a deal. I do know a fair bit about what has been done both by our security organisations as well as our police organisations. They don’t exclude the possibility of threats emerging here at all and they do take remedial action when they can, when of course you know about the particular character of an attack or possible attack. See, one of the things you have to understand, and I think we do understand, about dealing with terrorism is that it is difficult to defend. You are basically under an obligation to attack and fundamentally we have to go after the terrorist networks. There are so many targets within our various countries, as you can see from the events which just occurred in the United Kingdom, you can take sensible steps to try to defend likely target zones but in reality you have to go after the people who are directly involved in this.

JOURNALIST: Does this diminish your support for putting troops into Afghanistan at all?

BEAZLEY: Quite the contrary. Today is not really the day for discussion on these things, I must say. But we have for a long time, as you know, said that as far as we are concerned that after September 11, Afghanistan was identified as terrorist central. That is where al-Qaeda operated from for the September 11 attacks. They were succoured by the Taliban government of Afghanistan at the

time. Taliban and al-Qaeda elements exist and, to some degree, are coming back in strength in Afghanistan. This is not acceptable. This is something which must be dealt with.

JOURNALIST: Has the Federal Government’s actions, though, made us a target by standing so close with America and Britain?

BEAZLEY: This is day of sorrow, of condolence, and of determination, not a day for criticising or offering character analysis of ones opponents. Can I say this, though, in relation in the generality of things: we have been a target, and aware that we are a target, since September 11. We, in the perverted ideology of the fundamentalist terrorists, attacking locations like ourselves is part of their strategy for reinforcing their stance within their own society and attempting to attract people to their cause. It is separating us from moderate Islam, separating us from the Islamic states and communities which exist elsewhere in the world, is part of their objective. And we need to understand their objectives and spurn them and act against them. We will be targets irrespective of the many things that we may or may not do in this environment because of the fact that we are the sort of the society that they feel they must hit in order to enhance their status within the societies which ultimately they seek to dominate. We are at one as a society with those members of the Islamic community which are the overwhelming majority of them who fear, rightly, the appalling theologies and practices of the groups that are affiliated with al-Qaeda. So, what I’m saying, basically, is we’ve been under attack for a very long period of time now and that’s irrespective of any decisions taken by this Government.

JOURNALIST; How worrying is it for Australia that (inaudible) actually got through? How worrying is that for us?

BEAZLEY: It emphasises the point I make; that you can do the best you can on defences, and the British are very good at it, given their lengthy experiences, but in the end there’s no substitute for going after the terrorists at source. That’s all there is to it. This you must simply do.

JOURNALIST: On Afghanistan, are you saying that this strengthens the importance of going into Afghanistan again regardless of Iraq, or are the two linked?

BEAZLEY: As I said, I don’t want to get into what is a political debate apart from identifying this point, and it’s nothing new: we’ve been identifying this for a very lengthy period of time. Afghanistan is not completed. It was not a completed job and it has to be.

JOURNALIST: Do you plan to contact Mr Blair today or over the weekend?

BEAZLEY: I’ve contacted, as I said, the High Commissioner. I rang her and had a conversation with her and she has said that she wants to pass on my condolences and the substance of the conversation to Mr Blair. I think probably he’s busy enough at the moment but I’ll certainly drop him a line.

JOURNALIST: You said that we should go after (inaudible). Would you support sending Australians to help them?

BEAZLEY: I think the likelihood is that the policing and special forces capacities that exist in London are more than capable of, once the intelligence is gained, of handling this themselves. They’re very, very good, the British.

They’re very, very good. I think, more generally, of the fact that this is only a small part of a very large mosaic which is the al-Qaeda threat across the globe to Islamic societies and to those who have reasonable relationships with them, which are ourselves. And so what this makes me do, what this makes me think is that we have to get our priorities right and stay in the battle, make it absolutely clear that we are not going to be intimidated through pursuing the things that we think are right to deal with this threat and to identify where we can be most useful. Obviously we have to be useful in the area under which we’re under threat, which is South-East Asia, and I think we have a role to play in dealing with terrorist central, which is currently along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thanks very much.