POLITICS

Terror Is 'The New Reality', Warns Julie Bishop Following London Bridge Attack

'But we must never accept it.'

05/06/2017 11:17 AM AEST | Updated 05/06/2017 11:26 AM AEST

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has backed calls by the British Prime Minister for the world to get tougher on terror, saying "the entire community" has to do more.

But she also warned that small-scale attacks using everyday weapons -- like the white van and knives used in the London Bridge attack over the weekend -- were "nigh on impossible" to stop.

British PM Theresa May declared "enough is enough" as she announced tough new counter-terrorism laws on Sunday, after seven people were killed and at least 48 injured by three knife-wielding attackers on London Bridge on Saturday night.

Fairfax / Alex Ellinghausen
'In Australia, we will continue to do everything we can to keep Australians safe and to stamp out terrorism.'

"While we have made significant progress in recent years there is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country," May said.

Speaking to ABC Radio on Monday morning, Bishop said the latest terror attack was "an example of the new reality in which we live", but also added "we must never accept it".

Asked about the new, tough-on-terror response by Theresa May, Bishop said the British PM's comments "expressed the views of many British people".

"Likewise in Australia, we will continue to do everything we can to keep Australians safe and to stamp out terrorism."

Nevertheless, she conceded that small-scale and lone wolf attacks using commonplace items such as vehicles were "deeply troubling".

"If some person acts alone and uses a motor vehicle to mow people down in a public place, like in Westminster, it is nigh on impossible for security and intelligence agencies to detect that in advance," she told Sky News.

But Bishop has rejected One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's calls for a Trump-style ban on Muslim immigration in the wake of the attacks.

Hanson on Sunday accused British leaders and former Australian Labor governments of "opening the borders", warning that Bill Shorten "will make the same mistake" if elected as Prime Minister.

"The people of Britain have been let down by their leaders. It's so frustrating to see fools like Bill Shorten making the same mistakes," she wrote on Twitter.

But the Foreign Minister labelled the stance "too simplistic", and warned against blaming one sector of society for the actions of radical extremists.

"We've had young Australians with no connection in their past life to a Muslim background become radicalised online," she said in an interview with Sky News.

"The terrorist threat is so indiscriminate. We've seen terrorists kill Muslims in massive numbers. It is absolutely brutal, indiscriminate, knows no boundaries, no sovereignty, doesn't respect any government, doesn't respect any religion or faith or ethnic background."

The proposal was also roundly condemned by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who labelled it a "disgusting" misuse of a terror incident.

Shorten also said the attack reinforced the need for Australians to "stick together".

"The exact win for terrorists and violent criminals is when they see communities start to fray and become suspicious of others," he said.

The backlash comes as Malcolm Turnbull returns from Singapore, where he gave a much-anticipated keynote address at a major security meeting of world leaders.

Turnbull told national leaders and defence ministers -- including U.S. Defence Secretary James ­Mattis -- he aims to put Australia at the centre of counter terrorism efforts targeting extremists returning from the Middle East.

He warned Australians could well be targeted in future attacks.

"With the bitter memory of the 2002 Bali bombing, I am keenly alert to the risk that the next mass casualty attack on Australian victims could well be somewhere in south-east Asia, where ISIL propaganda has galvanised existing networks of extremists and attracted new recruits," he told the meeting.

The Australian Government's Smart Traveller website has been updated to include information the Lodon Bridge attack, but the overall level of advice for Australians travelling to the UK -- to 'exercise normal safety precautions' -- has not changed.

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