Subjects: Flinders Street attack; WA drug bust; Department of Home Affairs; keeping Australians safe.
Thanks for joining us Peter.
Look, it concerns me and my listeners that we would have a situation where a terror attack like this is conducted, the modus operandi we've seen before in terror attacks around the world. It's a form of attack that's actually been called for by Islamist extremists in their propaganda and the police have arrested this man, he's mentioned grievances about the way Muslims have been treated, he's from Afghanistan, yet we're told by police that there was no link to terrorism and it shouldn't be treated as a case of a terrorist attack.
Well Chris, obviously the investigation is still underway and I don't think anybody's ruling in or out any theory at the moment and that's the advice that I've got.
Obviously there's a lot of information that's not publicly available at the moment.
I'm not much into political correctness as you know and if it was clear, or if I thought that we needed to clarify something, I would. But I'm comfortable with the police at the moment – on all of the information and intelligence that I've received yesterday and overnight and again today – to say that it is still a matter under investigation.
There are elements that are still being investigated, as you would expect and there will be some information that they seek to gather from other authorities. It will take a little bit of time and I know that everybody wants all of the information out there at once, but I think we need to let the police do their work at the moment. But they're not ruling out this being a terrorist attack, they're just saying that matters are still under investigation.
Indeed you are someone who does tell it how it is and people know that you're not going to be cowed by political correctness so it's reassuring to hear you say that you're happy with what's been put out there publicly so far.
Yet when you have innocent civilians targeted in this way and, from the police's own advice, that the perpetrator has at least mentioned Muslim grievances as part of his motivation, isn't that what we look to here? We don't necessarily need to see any personal or technical links to other people or other extremists, or certainly any formal group. You're really just looking to ascertain what the personal motivation of this individual was.
Well Chris, obviously, as we say, there's a huge investigation that is underway at the moment looking into the backgrounds of people, looking into their movements, looking into their communications.
All of that takes time and I think in hindsight you can say, well it could've come out sooner or he should've said this that way, or whatever the case might be. From what I've seen, the police have done an excellent piece of work in terms of, you know, from the very first moment dealing with this.
Yeah the first responders were brilliant weren't they in this case?
Well that off-duty sergeant really is nothing short of a hero. I did a press conference just a little while ago where I said there will be other stories of heroism and people that have just put their own safety to one side, stepped in and helped others in their darkest hour.
I think we should be proud of the fact that Aussies do step up when they need to and you know, these are split-second things that change a life forever.
Some people that are still very ill and some people that have been gravely injured, that's where our thought is at the moment and I think we are best to leave the police to do their investigation.
I know there will be all sorts of speculation around what was said or what wasn't said or the interpretation of this or that, but there is a lot of information that needs to be pulled together.
Some cases are very straightforward, where organisations claim credit, or there's a flag flown, or people make certain statements, it's as clear as day.
But in cases where it's not I think we're better to leave the police to do their work and in very quick time, considering all the information they need to pull together, they'll be able to provide some more public comment.
You're absolutely right to highlight those first responders, both the professionals and the civilians who helped out there. When they went to help injured people, they were not to know what might befall them. They were most certainly putting themselves in possible danger and they're a credit to themselves and their country, the way they responded.
Just finally, Peter Dutton, you've just been sworn into this new super-ministry of Home Affairs. Of course, we know your work in border protection and immigration, now national security all wrapped together in the umbrella here.
We've got a national security or terror threat level in this country of probable. Just how are things going to change under the new arrangements and how will lives or security be better in this country?
Chris, obviously we've got the focus on counter-terrorism at the moment because we've got returning foreign fighters, we've got young teenagers being indoctrinated online through all the propaganda. There's a lot of work going on that will continue to go on in that space.
I have to say that we've looked at what's happened in the US, in the UK, elsewhere. We really do have the world's best in terms of investigators and intelligence officers that are working together at a State and Territory and Federal level.
So, we want to continue to make sure that all of our agencies are working in that effort, but I mean – as we saw with Sam Dastyari and Bill Shorten, they were embroiled in the issue around the espionage claims a couple of weeks ago – there's a big counter-espionage piece within the Home Affairs portfolio as well that we need to concentrate on and there's a lot of work in the organised crime space.
We just announced today that there's been the biggest drug bust in our country's history…
…you're talking over $1 billion, a street value of over $1 billion?
A billion dollars, 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine. That's 12 million hits that we've taken off the street, so it's pretty remarkable.
So I'm immensely proud of the work that our officers do and they will be working 24/7 over the break to keep us safe and allow us to enjoy Christmas Day and Boxing Day with our families, go to the shops and go to the beach or wherever we might be going over the break.
So we're going to coordinate to bring them closer together, the work that AUSTRAC does, or the work that the Office of Transport Security does at the airports.
There'll be 1.7 million people moving across borders over this month and next in and out from overseas so the Australian Border Force officers do a great job.
You know, Emergency Management Australia are working around the clock, looking at the prospect of bush fires or cyclones or floods over the summer as well.
So there's a lot within this portfolio and I'm confident that we can support them and give the best possible support, the best possible resourcing to our frontline officers so that they can do their great work.
Well Peter Dutton, you're going to have a busy Christmas bedding all this down and overseeing all of this, but thanks for joining us today and best wishes for Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and your family over the festive season.
Thanks very much Chris. Merry Christmas to you and to all your listeners mate. Take care.