Thursday, 14 April 2005
The Prime Minister made the following statement a few minutes ago.
"My fellow Australians, the NSW Police Commissioner has just informed me that someone has been arrested in connection with the recent bombings in Sydney. A person whose description matches the Identikit pictures that have been previously circulated. This person is currently assisting police with their enquiries.
As the matter is sub judice, I will be unable to comment overmuch on the identity of this individual, his national background, religious affiliation, political beliefs, or any details other than the ones in this statement. Given the recent, and I might say, most unfortunate publicity about this man in the media, the interests of justice demand that I so nothing that could prejudice a fair trial. Our system demands that any suspect be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law or, in time of war, a legally constituted military tribunal.
I can confirm that a quantity of explosives and bomb-making equipment was seized in connection with the investigation, well before the arrest, along with computer records.
I can also confirm that the person concerned has been under surveillance for some time in an attempt to discover any accomplices, though I have not been informed of the exact surveillance period, and would be unwilling to divulge it if I knew.
I can also confirm that the national press was informed of all the relevant facts of the investigation at the appropriate juncture, but that the news was embargoed by a Defence Notice. I felt it neccessary for National Security that every attempt be made to discover any network of accomplices or outside contacts, or out of fairness to the suspect's ethnic group, to confirm that the individual under investigation was acting alone. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombings, but they are notorious liars.
I will not comment on how much the authorities found out before the irresponsible and wholly regrettable actions of Channel 8 aborted this process. The Australian press is, on the whole, a responsible entity. They rightly insist on being informed, but when the public interest obviously demands that dissemination of information should be delayed for a few days - and I can confirm that the D-notice only embargoed the news for a few more days - then they act responsibly, and don't endanger either National Security or the General Public.
Most regrettably, there are some exceptions. Exceptions that have made the job of those charged with Australia's Security measureably harder, and the length of inconvenience to the general public longer than would have otherwise been neccessary.
But for every journalist whose enthusiasm gets in the way of their judgement, there are many more ordinary, decent Australians who calmly and coolly do what they can to protect their homes, their families, and their neighbours. Our investigation would not have gotten as far as it did without the selfless co-operation of individual members of the public. I will make mention of the ordinary workers who even took samples of the effluent emanating from the suspect's home, in order to determine whether there was any biological threat or chemical residue from explosives manufacture. They didn't just go through the motions, they went through the motions.
Of such people can Australia be proud. Quiet Achievers.
The sad, the ignorant, and the terminally stupid who attempted to attack the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Marrickville recently, in the mistaken belief that it was an Al Qaeda headquarters are quite a different kettle of fish, though that's insulting the intellect of all things piscine.
No true Australian would do that; nor attack any Mosque, Synagogue, Church, or Temple. But there are enough idiots out there that we've felt it neccessary to put many such buildings under surveillance, to protect them and the worshippers within.
I urge those who quite naturally want to strike out against our Enemy in the war on Terror to do so effectively. Not by daubing crude threats on the walls of innocents - and boosting the recruitment figures for the Bad Guys - but by informing the police of any suspicious activity. The police, and if neccessary, the military, have the resources to handle the situation, providing they are given good, factual and concise data from the general public. Not just to superficially prune the Terrorists, but to extirpate them, root and branch. Sometimes that requires patience. This is a winning combination, as recent events have proved.
To Australia's Muslims, I extend my condolences at your situation, with Evildoers committing most unislamic barbarities in the name of Islam, even proudly claiming responsibility for barbaric acts committed by themselves and others. One does not have to search far in the history books to find the same behaviour from false Christians, false Buddhists, or false Hindus.
Australian Muslims, in their turn, should not allow considerations of Islamic Brotherhood to blind them to the fact that these evildoers are false Muslims, and so not worthy of protection or tacit support. Islam is relying on you to remove the corruption, and Australia is relying on you too to do the same."
Q : Mr Brain, you mentioned biological hazards. Have any Nuclear of Biological Warfare materials been found?
PM : If they existed, we would have found them. Australians can feel reassured on this point.
Q : Prime Minister, did the authorities know this guy was a threat before the bombing? If so, why didn't you act to save the lives of four Australians?
PM : I said I wouldn't comment on how long the surveillance had been going on. But I will state that it'll be a sad day for Australia if people are arrested simply because of what they might possibly do. The bombings were all committed on a single day, with no prior warning I'm aware of.
Q : Mr Brain, will you now be lifting all the restrictions, and getting things back to normal?
PM : Restrictions are already being eased in a phased manner, in accordance with longstanding contingency plans . To change these "on the fly" might even delay the process of getting back to normal.
Q : You mentioned a military tribunal?
PM : He was arrested, rather than captured, by the NSW police.
Q : Were there any accomplices? Is there an Al Qaeda Connection?
PM : To answer your first question, Go ask Channel 8. But not if you want an answer that's reliable. Remember too, this man is a suspect, not a convicted bomber. For the second question, it's on the record that Al Qaeda have claimed there is one. But they're as reliable as Channel 8.
Q : Have you considered any sanctions against Channel 8, or the reporters.
PM : <inaudible> No, I'll leave that matter to the Australian Viewing Public. If you disapprove, just change channels.
Reporters noted the absence of Channel 8 cameras at the venue. The PM's press secretary stated "The e-mail notifying them of it must have gotten lost, along with their address. We're sure the journalists who they scooped will tell Channel 8 about future events."