TRANSCRIPT: Press Conference, Sydney, Saturday 14 November





SUBJECTS: Paris attacks

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you very much for coming to hear a few words I've got to say about the shocking attacks that have taken place in Paris in recent hours. Most recent reports suggest that about 140 people have lost their lives. I've spoken to the Foreign Minister and I have asked that she keep me informed of any suggestion that there might be Australians involved, but at this stage it seems that there are no Australian casualties. Our thoughts are with the victims of this shocking attack. Their friends, their families and, of course, all of the people of France. Coming so soon after the downing of the Russian passenger jet over Egypt with around 200 lives lost, coming after the attacks just in recent days in Beirut, where around 50 lives have been lost. This shows that governments across the world must work together to keep their citizens safe. These shocking attacks, while no-one has claimed responsibility in Paris, are clearly a coordinated terrorist attack on the people of France and I think it's fair to say that the desire of these terrorists, what they've set out to do is to strike fear into the heart not just of every French citizen, not just of every resident of Paris but, of course, of governments around the world and citizens around the world. These three attacks in such quick succession, the Egyptian attack, the attack in Beirut and now in Paris are brutal. They have no purpose but to strike fear in us and that's why it's so important that our governments continue to work together to protect our citizens and to protect citizens around the world. I have no doubt that the response of the French Government will be swift and it will be strong and Australia will stand with the French Government in any response they have. I know that there will be Australians who are worried about friends or relatives who may be travelling in Paris at the moment and they should contact the consular assistance line. If they're calling from Australia, 1300 555 135. If they're calling from overseas, +61 2 6261 3305. These numbers are widely available and Australians who are worried about friends and relatives travelling in France at the moment should contact them. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Just on that, there's obviously the climate talks that are happening. Do you think Australia should be rethinking whether or not our Prime Minister goes to attend these?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think our focus today and over the next few days needs to be on providing any support and assistance to the French Government with the horror that they are dealing with now and I'm not going to talk about things that might be coming up in several weeks' time.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that perhaps France's involvement in the fight against, or involvement in various conflict zones, do you think that's made the country more vulnerable?

PLIBERSEK: It's not clear who's behind these attacks, no particular group has claimed responsibility for them, but I think that it is very clear that this is a thought through, coordinated terrorist attack and I would be unsurprised if in the next few hours a terrorist group associated with the conflict in Syria claims responsibility. What I say is this isn't a reason for governments such as the French Government or the Australian Government to run and hide. This is reason again for governments that are fighting this terrorist organisation in Syria and Iraq to ensure that our intelligence and security are coordinated, that we are sharing information and that we redouble our efforts to protect all of our citizens against this threat.

JOURNALIST: You've mentioned Australia in terms of the response. Do you feel that at home we should be adjusting our terror threat or implementing new ways to deal with that here?

PLIBERSEK: The advice I'm told from our security agencies is that our alert is appropriate at the moment. Of course, we have been on high alert for some time and that's the appropriate level.

JOURNALIST:  Paris and France had upped their security level after Charlie Hebdo and these people involved in these attacks they think were under the radar, we don't know yet [inaudible] by security.  Does that raise alarm bells here in Australia?  Do we need to change the way we are, our intelligence are looking for people who might be planning these sorts of attacks?

PLIBERSEK: I have every confidence in Australian security and intelligence organisations. We have some of the best in the world. I think it's much too early to speculate about what's happened in Paris and I think it's very important that we give French authorities sufficient time to make their own analysis. Thanks everyone.