Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shot dead while giving speech

The former prime minister was delivering a speech in the Japanese city Nara when a gunman assassinated him.

Video transcript

- Shock waves are being felt this morning as news of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination makes its way around the world. Leaders at home and across the globe, sharing their thoughts and memories of the man once called "Australia's best friend in Asia." Let's bring in today's talkers Liberal MP Karen Andrews in Brisbane and Deputy Editor of the Daily Telegraph Anna Caldwell in Sydney.

Good morning, ladies. To you first, Karen, it's been called the most devastating act of political violence in Japan since the Second World War. And I think that's why it's been so shocking not just in Japan, but across the world because crime rates are so low in Japan and to see this act of political violence.

KAREN ANDREWS: Absolutely. I think people are incredibly shocked because it's Japan. Because it is a former prime minister who was out there just doing some campaign work, quite frankly. So it seems to have come from nowhere. It'll be interesting to see how much intel the security forces in Japan actually had, but it seems that it was reasonably random at this point in time.

So the world is in absolute shock. And, of course, our relationship with Japan is so important to us. And the fact that we have now lost a very close friend, Shinzo Abe, is very, very devastating for us, and, of course, it's devastating for Japan.

- Karen, you work in politics, I mean, just looking at the security surrounding him, that's also surprising.

KAREN ANDREWS: Well, it raises the whole issue of security of members of parliament. The current ones, and also those who are former members of parliament. It became an issue that was talked about quite a lot after the assassination effectively of Sir David Amess in the UK not that long ago.

We did look at in government what we could possibly do. we worked very closely with the opposition at the time and the crossbenches. But these are really good questions that should go to the commissioner of the Australian federal police because they-- that's the organization the agency that has responsibility for keeping members of parliament and senators safe. So I think we need to revisit that because, quite frankly, and I hate to say this, it is but a matter of time until we experience such an assassination attempt in Australia.

- You can learn from over there. Anna, what was your reaction to the news?

ANNA CALDWELL: Oh, look, it is just absolutely horrific. As Karen Andrews says, it's almost it's close to impossible to wrap your head around and to understand. It's so confronting, so horrible.

I do agree with Karen Andrews that I'm interested to see how this does impact the way we do public life here in Australia and indeed around the world. It does force those questions around safety and around security. It's just so horrific and just horrible.

- Let's move on. Peak bodies in retail and hospitality are calling for pandemic payments to return as cases continue to soar. Karen, would the opposition support reviving that support?

KAREN ANDREWS: Look, it's something that I think we need to look at very closely. Because the reality is that there are still requirements in Australia now that if you test COVID positive, you have to isolate for seven days. Now, some people can work from home, so they can still continue to be productive.

But people in hospitality, people in retail, people in childcare in schools, they actually can't go to work and there's a limit as to what they can do to be productive from home, in some cases, it's next to zero. So what is going to happen to those people? If they run out of sick leave, they're either not going to be paid or they're going to do what they can to get back to work as quickly as they can. And if they're not well, then that creates some real issues for transmission of illnesses in the workplace. So it's a shocking set of circumstances that we all need to grapple with at the moment.

- And it's so hard, Anna, isn't it? Because they've just been through this time and time again. Do you think it makes sense to give them a helping hand?

ANNA CALDWELL: Yeah, that's right. Look, it is really difficult. I actually-- I don't think that the economy can deal with that burden at the moment. I think we're sort of moving past it. I see the problem.

I see the fact that they can't actually go to work, so therefore, there should be some sort of safety net. I actually think the better solution would be to look at the other end of the scale and look at limiting the length of required isolation. So in the US for example, it's five days isolation rather than the seven days we have here.

Now, that doesn't totally take away the problem, but it mitigates it to some degree. I'd be more interested in having, I think that debate on the National stage.

- And let's see. Sit and watch maybe Mount mask mandates coming back as well. Ladies, thank you for your time this morning.

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