POLITICS

Malcolm Turnbull Condemns 'Brutal, Vile Attack On Innocence'

And Bill Shorten declares terror can be stopped.

23/05/2017 3:24 PM AEST | Updated 23/05/2017 5:05 PM AEST
Andrew Meares/Fairfax
The Parliament of Australia stands to observe the victims of the Manchester terrorist attack during question time at Parliament House.

CANBERRA -- "Vile", "criminal" and an "attack on innocence." Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull knows very well that the attack in the Manchester Arena, while the perpetrators are unknown, is different.

Police say 22 people were killed and 59 were injured when a lone bomber detonated an improvised explosive as the Arianna Grande concert came to a close.

It is the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since 52 people were killed in the 2005 London bombings.

"This incident, this attack, is especially vile, especially criminal, especially horrific because it appears to have been deliberately directed at teenagers," Turnbull told parliament, as he expressed sympathy, support and solidarity with Britain.

"This is an attack on innocence.

"Surely there is no crime more reprehensible than the murder of children. This is a direct and brutal attack on young people everywhere, on freedom everywhere."

Turnbull has spoken to his Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Greg Moriarty, High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer and the UK High Commissioner to Australia Menna Rawlings.

No Australian is currently known to have been caught up in the deadly incident, but the High Commission in London is still making urgent inquiries.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten also weighed up the attack as "every parent's nightmare." He reminded parliament of the terror attacks in the Bataclan theatre in Paris and the Paris stadium and the recent scenes outside Westminster in London.

But this is also different.

"You think when your kids go to listen to music, they would be safe," Shorten told parliament. "My eldest two are teenagers, they go to concerts, like so many here and so many elsewhere.

"When you see that shaky iPhone footage on that relentless 24-hour coverage, you see so many young people. They're dressed to go out to a concert, to dance, to listen to music."

The Manchester attack is being regarded, but not confirmed as terrorist attack.

Shorten said it was done by "evil people," but declared it does have to be accepted. And. he said, terror can be defeated.

"We need to say to people is that the world should not get used to this," the Opposition Leader told parliament.

"That we should not accept this as the normal state of affairs. That we should never believe that this sort of crime can't be stopped and that we need to change. This is not the normal course of events. The world, and absolutely most of us, are far better than that."

Turnbull said Australia would never give in to terror and Australians should feel safe, but he conceded more needs to be done to protect people in public places.

"My Government is working intensively with the other jurisdictions in Australia and cooperating with our international counterparts to further develop our national strategy for protecting places of mass gathering," he said.

"We have seen too many crimes perpetrated by acts of violence and terrorism in places of mass gathering, not to realise that we need to do more to keep our public places safe.

"It is a very, very high priority."

Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: "This is an attack on innocence."

Those in the chamber rose to their feet, as they have done now so many times, for a short moment of silence in recognition of the dead and injured.

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