Television Interview, Sky News

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The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

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Ben Leeson on 0404 648 275

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15 April 2024

SUBJECTS: Bondi Junction Incident; Migration Bill. 

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining us live now is the Assistant Defence Minister, Matt Thistlethwaite. Matt, so good to see you this morning. You are a Sydney MP and a citizen of NSW foremost, how have you made sense of what happened over the weekend?

MATT THISTLETHWAITE, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Good morning, Pete. This is just a shocking, shocking tragedy and my thoughts and the thoughts of the community that I represent just to the south of Bondi are with the victims and their families. It's just hard to comprehend what they must be going through at this point in time. I also want to pay tribute to and thank the very, very brave citizens who tried to confront this attacker and this senseless act. Particularly pay tribute to Inspector Amy Scott from the NSW Police, who showed great courage and bravery to stop this senseless attack. So, I'll be visiting the site this morning to lay a floral tribute on behalf of our community and to pay my respects to the victims.

STEFANOVIC: Just on Amy Scott. I mean, it was just incredible police work. I mean, I don't think anyone's going to have any problem with that. Even the family of the offender, in a statement last night, said that they've got no problem with what happened towards the end of that dreadful episode. The NSW Police Commissioner, just on that point, did say that Amy Scott will be recommended for a bravery award. So, will so many other people who helped on the weekend, including the Frenchman with the bollards. That all seems fair enough for you? Would you like to see that?

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Yeah, most definitely. Amy Scott followed police procedures and rules to the letter of the law. I think that it's fair to say that her actions saved other people's lives in that centre on Saturday, as well as many others, particularly the gentleman with the bollard who stood on the escalator stopping the attacker, getting to other victims. They showed great bravery and courage and they certainly deserve the accolades and the tributes that will no doubt follow for their courage.

STEFANOVIC: I spoke to Chris Minns earlier in the programme and he mentioned that increased patrols, police patrols of major centres, will be a discussion point and cabinet and as will perhaps extra strength for private security. What would you like to see come out of this, if anything, Matt?

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Yeah, look, Pete, people were just going about a normal Saturday in our community and in any other community across Australia, a lot of people go to shop shopping centres to do their shopping on weekends. And you want to hope that in the future, Australians can continue to feel safe. I think it's appropriate that the NSW Police Force will look at this incident and see if there is further patrols and increased presence required at public places such as this. And no doubt Westfield at Bondi Junction will do a full review of their security and see if anything else is needed and I think that governments across the country will now have to look at supporting the police forces and other organisations to ensure that we do maintain the safety -

STEFANOVIC: (interjecting) Yeah, the trouble is. Yeah. Sorry to interrupt you, Matt. Yeah, the trouble is, I mean, you just can't stop the lone wolves, these deranged killers who just, you know, whether it was planned or not, just think it up and do it. You just can't stop those single entities, can you?

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Yeah, you certainly can't. You can't have police everywhere all the time. But we obviously use intelligence and threat levels to ensure that we try and make sure that the Australian public are as safe as possible for a maximum amount of time and there'll be, no doubt, reviews into what's occurred and that will recommend any changes if they're required.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, just a final one here, Matt. The complete change of topic, the migration bill. It's up for debate in Canberra today, an inquiry. Do you think it went too far and is too punitive?

ASSISTANT MINISTER: Well, obviously this is ensuring that Australia maintains sovereignty over our borders and ensuring that people follow the rules. We're talking about people who had overstayed on visas, were technically illegal in Australia and weren't following the rules when required to be deported. And this bill puts in place measures to ensure that the Government has the powers, appropriate powers, to act and to ensure that people who haven't followed the rules can be deported.

STEFANOVIC: Matt Thistlethwaite out of Sydney. Appreciate your time, Matt. We'll talk to you soon. 


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