Anthony Albanese to extend permanent visa offer to guard injured in Westfield Bondi Junction stabbing

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
3 Min Read
A permanent visa will be offered to a Pakistani security guard Muhammad Taha, who was injured in the Westfield Bondi Junction massacre on April 13.
A permanent visa will be offered to a Pakistani security guard Muhammad Taha, who was injured in the Westfield Bondi Junction massacre on April 13. Credit: Georgina Noack/Supplied

A permanent visa will be offered to a Pakistani security guard injured during the Bondi Junction stabbing attack, the prime minister has confirmed.

Security guard Muhammad Taha was taken to hospital after confronting attacker Joel Cauchi during his stabbing rampage on Saturday, which killed six people — including five women and fellow security guard, Faraz Tahir.

While French construction worker Damien Guerot — who was also dubbed “bollard man” after footage emerged of him holding back the attacker — was offered a permanent visa for his heroics, Mr Taha had questioned whether a similar offer should be extended to him for his efforts.

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“Similarly, as a direct victim of the incident, I believe I deserve recognition and consideration for citizenship,” he told The Australian.

Mr Taha is in Australia on a graduate visa, which is due to expire within the month, the newspaper reported.

Muhammad Taha, a security guard, was injured in the Westfield Bondi Junction massacre on April 13.
Muhammad Taha, a security guard, was injured in the Westfield Bondi Junction massacre on April 13. Credit: Supplied

When asked about whether a similar offer of citizenship or visa would be offered to Mr Taha, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he would “certainly” consider the move.

He praised the “extraordinary courage” of Mr Taha and his slain colleague Mr Tahir to confront the Cauchi in his rampage on Saturday afternoon.

“It just shows extraordinary courage, these are people who … not thinking of themselves, were putting themselves in danger protecting Australians they didn’t know, just people going about their shopping,” Mr Albanese told radio station 5AA on Thursday.

He also confirmed a permanent visa would be issued to Mr Guerot, and said that French president Emmanual Macron had shared his praises for the French citizen overnight.

He said Mr Macron “was very proud” of the man who had come to be known almost exclusively as “bollard man” for how he fended off Cauchi in the attack.

“There was extraordinary stories of bravery amongst the carnage and tragedy that we saw on Saturday,” Mr Albanese added .

“It’s a bit of light in amongst the darkness that you saw these extraordinary acts.”

The confirmation comes after Sunrise host Natalie Barr questioned Defence Minister Richard Marles on Mr Taha’s concerns about his future in Ausrtalia on Thursday morning.

When asked if the brave security guard would be “allowed to stay”, Mr Marles said the immigration minister would work on a visa application.

“I’m not aware of the application being made by Mr Taha but no doubt that will be worked through by the minister,” he said.

Mr Marles heralded the “enormously brave” actions of Mr Taha.

“Coming out of that tragedy are these incredible stories of bravery for which the nation is really greatly indebted and the circumstances of Mr Taha I’m sure will be worked through,” he said.

Mr Guerot’s lawyer, Belinda Robinson, confirmed to The Australian that an offer of permanent residency was genuine.

The offer comes as the community continues to reel from the tragedy.

Westfield Bondi Junction is set to reopen its doors for a “community reflection day” on Thursday, allowing members of the public to pay their respects to the victims at the centre.

— with AAP

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