AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw says 'specific threats' against MPs are under investigation

The AFP is investigating multiple 'specific threats' against MPs. Picture: Karleen Minney
The AFP is investigating multiple 'specific threats' against MPs. Picture: Karleen Minney

Police are investigating multiple "specific threats" against Australian politicians, the Australian Federal Police has revealed.

And amid concern over the tenor of Australian political debate, Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he feels less safe than at any other time in his 25-year career.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected Mr Albanese's claim he has deliberately stoked tension as a "complete falsehood".

Earlier this month, anti-lockdown protesters erected a noose outside Victorian State Parliament and openly called for Premier Daniel Andrews' murder. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw revealed threats continued over the weekend, and security arrangements for federal politicians were under review.

"Even on the weekend, we have to mobilise a number of resources based on specific threats against different members of Parliament," he told reporters on Monday.

"So we know that the environment has changed rapidly due to a number of factors. We will be making sure we can do as much as we can to keep our parliamentarians safe."

Anthony Albanese says he feels less safe than at other times during his 25-year career. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Anthony Albanese says he feels less safe than at other times during his 25-year career. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

It came just a month after British MP David Amess was brutally murdered at a public meeting with constituents which had been advertised online.

In the wake of the murder, a number of MPs voiced their concerns with Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

Mr Kershaw said police were sharing information with intelligence agencies, and relying on support from the community, to head-off attacks before they occurred. But he said a balance needed to be struck between MPs' safety and their ability to interact with the public.

"Our MPs have to be able to carry out their job and do what they have been elected to do. We are very mindful of that, as well," he said.

Terror experts have warned the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the threat, with would-be extremists spending more time online and away from stabilising human interactions.

Responding to threats made to Mr Andrews, the Prime Minister said intimidation had "no place" in public debate but stressed he understood the frustrations which underpinned the rallies.

And with One Nation mounting challenges against vaccine mandates, Mr Morrison was widely accused of dog whistling to extremists to protect the government's right-flank.

Mr Albanese, who has been an MP since 1996, said he was more concerned about his safety now than at any other point in his career.

"I hold the Prime Minister responsible for failing to call out unequivocally the violent and extreme comments that are made, the taking of gallows, the threatening of Labor MPs and premiers and independents, the fact that so many MPs have to have security at the moment," he told ABC radio.

"The Prime Minister should be capable of just showing leadership, not being weak, and saying that these comments and this behaviour is unacceptable in Australia in 2021."

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A video uploaded to the Prime Minister's Facebook account included his unease with lockdowns, but removed criticism of threats made to the Victorian Premier.

The Prime Minister did not answer directly when asked why the segment was altered in question time, but stressed he had condemned the threats "at the first opportunity".

He flatly denied currying favour with extremists, accusing Mr Albanese of "playing political games" over political violence.

"I have been very clear in denouncing those things. The suggestion I haven't is a complete falsehood," he said.

"[They are] pathetic attempts by the Labor Party to try to drive a wedge between Australians, and suggest that there is no bipartisan support for denouncing violence in this country."

This story 'Specific threats' made against MPs: AFP first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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