The Australian Federal Police have responded after the alleged murder of an MP.
The Australian Federal Police are desperately working to protect the safety of the nation’s politicians, amid fears of violent attacks from extremists and the mentally unstable in the lead-up to the next federal election.
Speaking to a Senate Estimates hearing on Monday, AFP Deputy Commissioner Brett Pointing said the recent murder of British MP David Amess was “a stark reminder of the unpredictability of this environment”.
Sir Amess, who was a member of the British Conservative Party, was stabbed to death on October 15 in a public church hall by an alleged Islamic extremist.
A 25-year-old man has been charged under the UK‘s Terrorism Act with the MP’s murder.
“Our members of parliament are often at public events. There’s often people there who have different views, sometimes extreme views,” Mr Pointing told Senate Estimates.
“It is extremely important for us to work with members of parliament and the broader intelligence community to make sure we have up-to-date intelligence and that that intelligence is converted into a security overlay that provides the best possible security for our members of parliament.”
Mr Pointing said the AFP was now working with intelligence agencies to urgently review extra protection measures for Australia’s politicians ahead of the upcoming federal election.
But some of Australia’s most powerful political leaders have already experienced frightening attacks first-hand.
Health Minister Greg Hunt broke down in tears at a press conference last Wednesday after he revealed his children had been subject of death threats over his time in public office.
“I’ve never really talked about it,” he said as his voice cracked.
“There was a period where the lives of my children were threatened quite openly some years ago.”
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan received similar threats last Thursday.
A Huntingdale man with access to a firearm was arrested after he allegedly told Mr McGowan that he intended to kill both the WA Premier and the Prime Minister.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw told Senate Estimates it was not uncommon for parliamentarians to “receive a lot of threats and concerning letters”.
“We have taken this issue very seriously, and last year I did bring out the UK anti-terrorism command, from the UK MET to have a look at the overall protection for MPs and high office holders,” Mr Kershaw said.
“We are looking at a new model for us around what sort of services we could be able to provide … protection, whether that is physical protection, liaison, other solutions.”
The AFP’s review of additional protection measures for politicians is expected to be complete by November 11.