Two people have been charged after they allegedly threatened Labor Senator Kristina Keneally online.
- Two people have been charged over online threats against an Australian senator
- Kristina Keneally says she was the subject of the alleged threats
- AFP expects threats against politicians to increase in federal election
In a statement, Australian Federal Police said a 29-year-old man from western Sydney and a 41-year-old woman from Maitland in the Hunter region have received court summonses.
“[This action was taken] following threats made against an Australian senator via a social media messaging service,” AFP said.
“It will be alleged in court that the man and woman were responsible for sending two separate threatening messages on November 23, 2021 that threatened or advocated violent acts.”
Senator Keneally confirmed she was the senator the police referred to in the statement.
“I would like to thank the Australian Federal Police (AFP) who, in all matters relating to the safety and security of Members and Senators, take their responsibility seriously,” she told Sky News.
“I think it goes to a larger issue that has been discussed by AFP in the Senate estimates and other forums.
“Right now, in our political debates and speeches, we are unfortunately seeing a growing trend of extremist views and threats of violence.”
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw revealed last November that his officers were investigating threats against politicians and that a review of the safety of politicians in general was underway.
This followed concerns expressed by MPs and Senators for their safety, following the murder of British Conservative MP Sir David Amess.
Last month, the AFP commissioner also warned that he expected threats against politicians to increase in the upcoming federal election.
Senator Keneally would not comment on the content of the messages sent to her, but said the matter was not isolated.
“Because the matter is before the court, I will not go into the content or the circumstances,” she said.
“I am unfortunately aware of several cases of backbenchers or frontbenchers who have been the subject of threats.”
AFP investigators today searched the man and woman’s home.
The 29-year-old was charged with threatening to harm a Commonwealth public official, while the 41-year-old was charged with using a transport service to threaten, harass or offend.
They will both face Sydney Central Local Court next month.