Peter Dutton offers Anthony Albanese the Coalition’s ‘full support’ after Sydney terror attack

Jake Dietsch
The Nightly
3 Min Read
The Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton speaks to the media in Perth today. Michael Wilson
The Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton speaks to the media in Perth today. Michael Wilson Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has offered the Albanese Government “full support” on terror-related matters after a bishop was stabbed in Sydney during a church service.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was presiding over a service at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church on Monday night when a 16-year-old boy allegedly stabbed him, in what police say was religiously-motivated attack.

The attack came just days after the Bondi Junction massacre, where Joel Cauchi, 40, stabbed 18 people, killing six, before a female police officer shot him dead.

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Mr Dutton on Tuesday told media in Perth that Australians were “shocked and horrified” by the stabbing in Western Sydney.

“We obviously wish the Bishop a speedy and full recovery,” the Liberal leader said.

Mr Dutton acknowledged the bravery of parishioners who apprehended the teen and thanked the police who responded to the “volatile situation”.

“I also want to make it very clear that an act of violence in a place of worship is completely unacceptable in our country,” he said.

The preacher allegedly stabbed during a mass reading inside a western Sydney church is known as an anti-vaxxer with a huge TikTok following behind him.
The preacher allegedly stabbed during a mass reading inside a western Sydney church is known as an anti-vaxxer with a huge TikTok following behind him. Credit: Good Shepherd Church

The stabbing was captured on the church’s live-stream and prompted a riot outside that injured police officers.

Mr Dutton said the behaviour of the crowd “should be condemned” despite the “high level of emotion”.

“That (emotion is) understandable in the circumstances, but to take that out on police is not acceptable,” he said.

The Opposition leader said prior to the church stabbing he had already requested a briefing from Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general Mike Burgess on the country’s “threat level” after the Bondi massacre.

While he did not call for any specific measure, Mr Dutton said he had offered the Labor Government bipartisan support when it comes to terrorism.

“I’ve written to the Prime Minister, offering the full support of the Coalition on any issues that the Government might think need to be addressed,” he said.

“It’s a volatile period and you can understand the anxiety that Australians will be feeling, particularly trying to explain what’s happening in our country in the last week to young children.

“What we know is that Australia is a peaceful country.

“We’ve never had civil conflict as part of our history, and we don’t want a part of our present or our future.”

Mr Dutton acknowledged community leaders who had called for “calm” and said places of worship were “sacrosanct” and should never experience acts of violence.

He also expressed support for Anthony Albanese’s offer of Australian citizenship to French construction worker Damien Guerot who confronted Cauchi with a bollard at the top of an escalator.

His courageous act is understood to have stopped the attacker from reaching an area where children were playing.

The Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton speaks to the media in Perth today. Michael Wilson
The Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton speaks to the media in Perth today. Michael Wilson Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

The stabbings come amid heightened tensions in the Middle East after Iran responded to an Israeli attack on its embassy in Syria by firing hundreds of drones at the Jewish state.

Mr Dutton referred questions on whether the Israel-Gaza war had heightened the terrorism the threat to Mr Burgess, but said Australia did not need to bring “problems from around the world” home to its communities.

He said he met with members of Melbourne’s Jewish community on Monday after a 700 per cent rise domestically in antisemitic incidents since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

“Those community members are really feeling fearful in their own communities. And these are Australian citizens,” Mr Dutton said.

“We’ve got armed guards at synagogues, people are worried about congregating at places of worship and at supermarkets et cetera.”

Mr Dutton said it was up to State Governments to consider stop-and-search laws to address knife crime, but said if there Federal laws that needed to be “changed or tightened” he would “offer bipartisan support to sensible reforms”.

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