Bondi Junction attack: Anthony Albanese believes ‘hundreds’ could have died without tough gun laws

Headshot of Dan Jervis-Bardy
Dan Jervis-BardyThe Nightly
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, NSW Premier Chris Minns and Allegra Spender lay floral tributes Oxford Street Mall at Westfield Bondi Junction.
Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese, NSW Premier Chris Minns and Allegra Spender lay floral tributes Oxford Street Mall at Westfield Bondi Junction. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese believes the Bondi Junction tragedy could have involved “hundreds” of deaths had Joel Cauchi been carrying a gun rather than a knife.

Mr Albanese’s comments came as he visited the scene of the massacre alongside NSW Premier Chris Minns and Mayor Paula Masselos to pay his respects and lay flowers.

Six people are dead and 12 in hospital after the 40-year-old Queensland man went on a stabbing rampage through the busy Westfield shopping centre on Saturday afternoon.

Authorities believe the violent attack was linked to Cauchi’s mental health, dismissing speculation of any religious or ideological motivation.

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Floral tributes on Oxford Street Mall.
Camera IconFloral tributes on Oxford Street Mall. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The Toowoomba-raised man reportedly suffered from schizophrenia and was off his medication.

Details about Cauchi’s past started to emerge on Sunday, including his fixation with knives and a 2020 Facebook post in which he sought out people to chat about guns.

“Hi I am looking for groups of people who shoot guns, including handguns, to meet up with, chat with and get to know. Please send me a DM if you can help me out! I live in Brisbane by the way,” he wrote.

Speaking on ABC radio in Sydney, Mr Albanese said there was “no question” the tragedy could have been much worse was it not for Australia’s strict gun control laws.

“This man wielded a deadly weapon in the form of a knife,” he said.

“But if it was an automatic gun, then we would have been speaking about hundreds of deaths.

“And it is important reminder of how important it is that we do have strong gun laws in this country.

Mr Albanese would not be drawn on calls to beef up security at shopping centres in response to the attack.

“I think now’s the time to express our condolences for those who have suffered. There will be a time for an appropriate, considered response to any security lessons that need to be learnt from an incident such as this.,” he said.

Mr Albanese will travel from Canberra to Sydney on Sunday afternoon to lay a wreath at the scene alongside NSW premier Chris Minns and local federal MP Allegra Spender.

The prime minister earlier paid tribute to the “wonderful” NSW Police Inspector Amy Scott, who rushed inside the shopping centre and shot Cauchi to end the rampage.

“We also see the footage of ordinary Australians putting themselves in harm’s way in order to help their fellow citizens. That bravery was quite extraordinary that we saw yesterday, the best of Australians amidst this extraordinary tragedy,” he said.

Mr Albanese revealed US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon were among the world leaders to offer their sympathies

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