New Zealand terror attack: Australian PM expresses outrage

Key suspect is Australian but was not known to authorities in his homeland

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media in Sydney, after  a gunman opened fire in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photograph: EPA

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media in Sydney, after a gunman opened fire in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photograph: EPA

 

Brenton Tarrant, the Australian man reported to have been detained as the key suspect in the Christchurch terror attacks, was not known to the authorities in his homeland, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said.

“We are outraged and we stand here and condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing violent terrorist who has taken the lives, stolen lives, in a vicious, murderous attack that has claimed so many New Zealanders,” Mr Morrison said from Kirribilli House, the prime ministerial residence in Sydney.

Tarrant is from Grafton in northern New South Wales, 610km north of Sydney.

Mr Morrison, who is an evangelical Christian, said Tarrant’s manifesto document outlining his motivations, “is the work of hate. I’ve got no other way to describe it. That sort of hateful thinking has just reaped murder and misery on a peaceful people just going about their practice of faith on a Friday. It’s disgusting.

“This attack reminds us of the evil that is ever-present and would seek to strike out at any time and I particularly want to convey my heartfelt sympathies not only to all New Zealand people, but particularly my sincere prayers and thoughts for those New Zealanders and indeed Australians of Islamic faith who have been the subject of this callous right-wing extremist attack,” he said.

Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten said the attack was a “senseless, evil act of murder”.

“It is chilling in its callous preparation, it is horrifying in the scale of death and injury. This was an attack on a mosque. It could have been a church. It could have been a synagogue. This is an attack on worshippers practising their faith innocently. An attack on any religion is an affront on all religions. It is an affront on our common humanity.

“I particularly feel for the Islamic Australian community who must be feeling very, very concerned and upset, and also for all the parents who have to try to explain this to their children tonight.”

Footage

Mr Shorten said Australians should not watch or share footage of the attack filmed by Tarrant and broadcast live on the internet by him. “This is not normal, do not make this violence normal. Evil is never normal. Evil is never part of daily life.”

Mr Shorten’s plea was ignored by some Australian television stations, though.

Sky News Australia broadcast footage of Tarrant at the mosque and Network Ten embedded footage on its website and social media posts. Channel Nine used some of Tarrant’s footage, but stopped the video before he entered the mosque.

None of the channels showed the actual shootings or the victims.

Mia Garlick, a spokeswoman for Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand operations, said videos which appeared to show the Christchurch shootings were taken down.

“New Zealand police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the live-stream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video.

“We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware. We will continue working directly with New Zealand police as their response and investigation continues.”

Muslim immigration

Both Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten condemned an independent politician, Senator Fraser Anning, who linked Muslim immigration to the terror attack. Mr Anning said in a tweet: “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”

In a subsequent statement, Mr Anning said “Whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.

“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration programme which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Mr Morrison said “the remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian parliament.”

Mr Shorten said Mr Anning “deserves the contempt and condemnation of decent people everywhere. He does not speak for our parliament or our country.”