Australia and New Zealand are not just allies, we’re not just partners, we are family. As family members with our New Zealand cousins, today we grieve, we are shocked, we are appalled, we are outraged and we stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist that has taken the lives, stolen the lives, in a vicious, murderous attack, that has claimed so many New Zealanders.
This attack reminds us of the evil that is ever-present and would seek to strike out at any time. I particularly want to convey my heartfelt sympathies not only to all New Zealand people, as I'm sure all Australians would join me in doing, but I particularly want to express my sincere prayers and thoughts for those New Zealanders and indeed Australians of Islamic faith today, who have been the subject of this vicious and callous right-wing extremist attack.
I’m not going to go through the details of this today, because that is properly done by the New Zealand authorities. The New Zealand authorities are conducting that investigation and I have just concluded a briefing with our own authorities and agencies here. It is for New Zealand, who are obviously leading the investigation, to be able to confirm details of any individuals and certainly the number of casualties. I will leave it to them to make those announcements.
I have already been in contact with Prime Minister Ardern. She is obviously caught up in many briefings today. She described it as their darkest day and I agree with her, I agree with her absolutely. Australian authorities have already put in place all the necessary responses and precautions that are necessary here in Australia. Our agencies are working closely with New Zealand authorities and have prepared other capacities to be stood up to support New Zealand as and when requested.
I can confirm that the individual who was taken into custody, I have been advised, is an Australian-born citizen and obviously that element of the investigation Australian authorities are involved in. They will be proceeding with their investigation, which has already been stood up, involving all the relevant agencies.
We will keep Australians safe in every way possible we can. We will work with our partners in the region, our family in the region in New Zealand, to do everything we can to support them to keep their people safe as well. But right now there is a numbness. There is just a still shock that has laid upon us all, as we thought would be unthinkable in a place like Christchurch. But it has happened and it is such a sad and devastating reminder of the evil that can be ever-present around us.
Happy to take a couple of questions, but as I said, in terms of the details of the investigations they are properly addressed by the New Zealand authorities. We are obviously being kept abreast of developments in those investigations and our participation in supporting those investigations, that information is needed to help us to our part of the task. But I want to assure all Australians that the immediate responses that are required to ensure the security and safety of Australians, have already been actioned. Our authorities are working together - ASIO, the AFP, State police - to ensure that those arrangements are in place. I have also contacted the Leader of the Opposition, or contacted me actually, we almost contacted each other at the same time. He has been offered a full briefing on these matters and I’m sure as we just discussed, he would join me in the sentiments I have expressed.