Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the terrorist attack in Barcelona, saying Australia stands in “absolute, resolute solidarity” with the people of Spain in their fight against Islamist terrorism.
He said “our love, our prayers” were with the victims and their families, and Australian consular officials were on their way to Barcelona from Madrid.
He said he would “shortly” release a new plan detailing how authorities planned to protect crowded places in Australia, such as sporting arenas and shopping centres, to prevent similar deadly vehicle attacks.
His office said the plan would not be released on Friday, and a spokesman declined to say when it would be made available.
“We have seen how deadly vehicle attacks can be,” Turnbull said on Friday, in a joint news conference with Tony Sheehan, the commonwealth counter-terrorism coordinator, and Duncan Lewis, the director general of security.
“Following the truck attack in Nice last year … I asked [the former] commonwealth counter-terrorism coordinator, Greg Moriarty, to work on protecting crowded places in Australia.
“That work has been completed now, and it will be released shortly,” he said.
Turnbull said Australia’s intelligence agencies worked closely with Spanish authorities in the fight against Islamist terrorism, and Spain was a partner in the anti-Daesh coalition in the Middle East.
He said 16 people had been killed in the attack in Barcelona, and warned that the death toll could rise.
“We understand three Australians have been injured – one seriously,” Turnbull said.
“Our consular officials are on their way to Barcelona from Madrid. We have an honorary consul in Barcelona.”
He used the opportunity to tell Australians their intelligence agencies worked “tirelessly” to keep them safe, and said there was “no place for set-and-forget on national security”.
Turnbull said his new plan was a “comprehensive analysis” that would provide advice and tools for the operators of large venues to make their venues safer for the public.
“It is about protecting crowded places, which is a very complex issue,” he said.
“What we seek to ensure is that when a new venue is being built, a new centre or shopping centre or football stadium, or some new public space is being constructed, resilience is built into that.”
Asked if the report would recommend new construction around existing venues, he said people would have to wait and see.
“We’ll have more to say when it is released, but it is obviously the responsibility of everyone to pay attention to the vulnerability of the crowded places that they’re therefore responsible, and to bear that in mind,” he said.