Australian Prime Minister Radio Interview – KIIS 1065

Prime Minister

Good morning, Prime Minister.



SANDILANDS: What a shocking weekend.

PRIME MINISTER: Oh look, it was just horrifying for Australians and people will be doing it really tough today. The people who’ve lost loved ones, and I spoke to some family members yesterday. The people who are still recovering, good news is four people were discharged from hospital overnight. But there’s still five remaining in intensive care units in hospitals across Sydney.

LAST: Are they stable, the five people, are they going to pull through? Or is it, what’s their situation? Do we know?

PRIME MINISTER: Jackie, one of them, unfortunately, is still in a critical condition, so we remain concerned for them.

SANDILANDS: What about the baby? Any news on the little baby?

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, we don’t have news there. Obviously a baby being targeted here is just, it just does your head in.

SANDILANDS: Like you can’t comprehend it.

PRIME MINISTER: It’s just extraordinary.

SANDILANDS: Especially when it’s a shopping centre, everyone knows that shopping centre. Thousands and thousands are there every single week. My family go there. One of my family members was one of the women stabbed in the shoulder. So that really, I was watching it on TV and then I saw her on a stretcher and I nearly died. I couldn’t believe it. And it was already upsetting enough, you know, knowing that your local shopping centre and all those people that were injured, the tragedy of the people that were killed. And I know there’s a big focus, we spoke to the Premier this morning and the Police Commissioner, the big focus on mental health. I know we do all we can, but do we need to do more? Are we not doing enough? Or are these things just very hard to predict?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, we can always do more, of course, but these things are hard to predict. There was no indication that this guy was about to engage in any act of violence, let alone such a large scale, senseless act of violence that we saw. You have now a sixth victim who’s just been identified, Yixuan Cheng, was a Chinese national who was studying here in Australia. So there was, you know, there’s no sense of anything other than randomness. People going about their shopping, and in the case of Faraz Tahir, a gentleman who hadn’t been here that long, a refugee from Pakistan who was working as a security guard.

SANDILANDS: Now a lot of people have said, Prime Minister, security should have done more. What they don’t realise, I think a lot of people are waking up this morning realising, one security guy lost his life. Two other, two security guards lost their life, I think, and three attacked. These security guards, they don’t have any weapons. It’s not that sort of situation where they’ve got a firearm or a baton or even mace or any pepper spray. Do you think we need to, sort of like, do you think security guards need to be trained more in firearm handling? And because this guy may have been taken down sooner had security been armed.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, when you have an incident like this it will provoke a review of what should be done and what can be done in the future. That needs to be done in a considered way based upon a proper assessment. I think that in your introduction to my coming on the program, that you spoke about the actions of police, and they were remarkable.


PRIME MINISTER: The fact that this inspector, Amy Scott, she is a hero. But others as well, they all rushed to the scene not knowing what they were rushing into, not knowing if this person was armed with firearms. Not knowing if there was one or more perpetrators. Not knowing the circumstances, and they just rushed towards danger to help their fellow Australians. And it was a reminder –

LAST: Did he walk in with this knife in a bag? Where did it –

SANDILANDS: In the backpack, it was.

LAST: In this backpack was it?

SANDILANDS: It was already in his backpack.

LAST: Right, okay.

SANDILANDS: So, he didn’t wander in with it in his hand, he pulled it out of the backpack. He’d been in the shopping centre for quite a while. He’d eaten a few meals and roaming around.

LAST: Just crazy, isn’t it?

SANDILANDS: And you know what, Prime Minister? The only little saving grace out of all of this is to realise how swift, and the volume of emergency service workers, fire brigade, the ambulance officers, the police officers, the tactical response officers, they were there within, like, the first cop was there within five minutes, the lady who took him down, the inspector, hero. But all of these, it just, it makes me feel, even though we all feel very unsafe with, you know, it happening in our shopping centre. I do feel that, wow, the overwhelming immediate response that that’s not to be overlooked. Like we are ready for critical incidences in this city. So all of those people are heroes. All the ambos, everyone that responded. They’re all heroes in my eyes.

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely. And the response was extraordinary and swift. And very early on as well, at a time where there was misinformation out there on social media, the police, I think the briefing that the Deputy Chief gave on Saturday night was extraordinary. I had briefings from the AFP Commissioner Kershaw very early on, from the ASIO Director General about the national security implications. They got on top of those issues in remarkably quick time and that provided some reassurance to the public that it wasn’t an ongoing act. They very early on gave a preliminary indication that this wasn’t a terrorist incident. That the person involved was not a person of interest, as they’re known, someone who potentially is on a list. So they acted very quickly. Yesterday morning the briefings about mental health issues being involved and identifying this guy, Joel Cauchi, very early on as well. I think they did a remarkable job of being transparent. So, whether it’s the people who are on the front lines or the people who clicked into gear very quickly, it was I think, a remarkable effort in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

SANDILANDS: Yeah, I would agree. And we had a caller on earlier by the way, Prime Minister, who said that her daughter suffers with mental health, and as soon as she turned sixteen or seventeen, she was sort of cut off from any assistance, and, you know, you’re on your own now. And she says sometimes the people that need the most help have the least amount of money. So maybe we need to look into that sort of area of the mental health work as well so people don’t deteriorate down to this, this lunacy. But there’s a lot to unpack. So, I appreciate your time this morning and your prayers, and we all really thank all the first responders, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by it.

PRIME MINISTER: We do. And we just, this is a day, I think, where people will hold their loved ones that little bit tighter.


PRIME MINISTER: Because they will be feeling this. And one of the things that I found very positive yesterday was how quick as well there were people around Bondi Junction when I went with Chris Minns and others. The local federal member, Allegra Spender, state members and the local mayor, Paula Masselos, there to lay a wreath –

SANDILANDS: And the flowers, I saw you put the flowers down there. It was lovely.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it was a moment of unity. There was the local, two state members, one Labor, one Liberal, all united in our grief and all united honouring the victims here and thanking the first responders for what they had done. But I did notice at Bondi Junction, it stood out that there were people walking around with little vests on that indicated mental health support for people. Making sure that if people are feeling, doing it tough, that they do reach out.

SANDILANDS: I noticed that, there was a lot of help there. I think, such a tragic event but the response to it and has been great. And these, where we come together and we all feel the same pain, that happens rarely.

PRIME MINISTER: That’s right. Well, this is a national tragedy that is affecting everyone in our great nation. I had a lovely letter I woke up to this morning from Queen Mary in Denmark. A letter just expressing her solidarity and concern at this. We’ve had world leaders reaching out, expressing their condolences and solidarity and support with Australia at this difficult time. And today of course, flags around the nation will fly at half-mast in order to just show our sympathy for these victims, these young lives lost in this just senseless act of violence.

SANDILANDS: Prime Minister, I thank you for coming on and you’re echoing everyone’s feelings. Appreciate your time. I’ll let you go. You got a big day ahead and thank you for coming on, Prime Minister. I think it means a lot to a lot of people, thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, thanks very much.

LAST: Thank you.

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