Opening Remarks – Federal Cabinet 15 April

Prime Minister

Today flags are flying at half-mast around Parliament House and around the nation as Australians come to terms with the shocking events on Saturday. This is a difficult time for our nation and for Australians. And yesterday afternoon, I travelled back to Bondi Junction, to lay a wreath on behalf of the nation together with the Premier, Chris Minns, the local Federal Member, Allegra Spender, State Members, and the Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos. This is a community in mourning, but it’s a nation in mourning. Sydneysiders are all familiar with Westfield at Bondi Junction, one of the biggest shopping centres in Sydney. People go there not just to shop, but to go to the theatre there. There’s a multi-cinema. And all Australians can relate to going shopping on a Saturday afternoon with their family, it should be a place without risk, a place where people feel safe. But the innocent people who lost their lives, six people, others remain critically unwell. Four people were released from the hospital overnight, there remains five in hospital, one critically injured. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those who’ve lost their lives. I’ve spoken to family members yesterday, and they’re doing it tough because this act of senseless violence has shocked the nation, and we all grieve with them today. At the same time, there are extraordinary acts of heroism, that we applaud. The bravery of Amy Scott, a heroic police officer, by herself, rushing towards danger, not knowing what she was running into. But no doubt her swift action in taking out the perpetrator saved lives. And we pay tribute to her as we pay tribute to the ordinary Australians who did extraordinary things. The man with the bollard at the top of the escalator, stopping the perpetrator from getting on to another level. The people who took swift action in the shops as well to get people to safety was extraordinary. So, we paid tribute to all who showed such courage and once again, we’re reminded at the toughest of times Australians show the best of the Australian character. Today as well we remember those who do lose their lives. Ashlee Good, a young mum, who was desperate to protect her nine-month-old baby. Faraz Tahir, a Pakistani refugee who’d received protection in Australia, working as a security guard, who lost his life. It is a very difficult period for our nation, but at times as Australians come together, and that’s what we do today as a Cabinet. Our role is to provide leadership, to provide support, to thank those people who provided such extraordinary work. On Saturday afternoon, the New South Wales Police, ambulance services, emergency services, rushed to danger and took action very quickly. The Australian Federal Police briefed me with a comprehensive briefing very quickly, as did the security agencies including the Director General of ASIO. And at a time where there was a lot of misinformation out there, the New South Wales Police spokespeople, were very quick under the circumstances of getting information out there to the public, providing reassurance to the public as well. And we can be so proud of them. And it’s a reminder to all of us as Australians, that we owe our thanks each and every day to the men and women who wear uniform, who provide that support in police and emergency services or the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, orderlies, those people who provided assistance at the scene. And those mental health workers and others who will continue to provide support over coming days, weeks and months. And we need to reassure the public as well that if you’re in need of that support, someone to talk to, please reach out and do so. We remain working with the New South Wales Government to provide whatever assistance we can. I met with Premier Minns yesterday and we’ve offered our full government support and will continue to engage with New South Wales over the coming period.

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