The Martin Place siege in Sydney

2014-12-16 - Tony Abbott


Early this morning the Martin Place siege ended with the death of the lone gunman and tragically, the loss of two hostages – innocent Australians caught up in the horror of yesterday.

Five other people – four hostages and a New South Wales police officer – have been injured.

State and Commonwealth agencies are investigating.

Understandably, there is lot of speculation but it will take time to clarify exactly what happened in Martin Place and why.

What we do know is that the perpetrator was well known to State and Commonwealth authorities. He had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability.

We know that he sent offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and was found guilty of offences related to this. We also know that he posted graphic extremist material online.

As the siege unfolded yesterday, he sought to cloak his actions with the symbolism of the ISIL death cult.

Tragically, there are people in our community ready to engage in politically motivated violence.

The events in Martin Place also show that we are ready to deal with these people professionally and with the full force of law.

I want to thank the New South Wales Police and all the other agencies involved for their professionalism and courage.

Yesterday, Premier Baird showed great steadfastness and Sydneysiders can be proud of their calm during what was a very difficult and testing day.

Australians should be reassured by the way our law enforcement and security agencies responded to this brush with terrorism.

There is nothing more Australian than dropping in at the local cafe for a morning coffee and it's tragic beyond words that people going about their everyday business should have been caught up in such a horrific incident.

Our hearts go out to all of those caught up in this appalling incident and their loved ones.

On behalf of all Australians, I extend my sympathy to the families of the two hostages who died overnight.

These events do demonstrate that even a country as free, as open, as generous and as safe as ours is vulnerable to acts of politically motivated violence.

But they also remind us that Australia and Australians are resilient and we are ready to respond.

Now, I do intend to go to Sydney early in the afternoon to be further briefed by New South Wales Police and other security agencies. I also intend to say thank you as best I can in person to New South Wales police officers and others involved in this appalling incident.

I'll do more media then and I'll take questions at that time when we do have a better idea of exactly what has happened.

Plainly, there are lessons to be learnt and we will thoroughly examine this incident to decide what lessons can be learnt. But I do want now, in the hours immediately after the conclusion of the siege, to offer these words of comfort to those caught up in it and reassurance to the Australian people.