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Airport strike off as Turnbull joins condemnation

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UPDATED: Planned strike action by Australian border force and airport security workers has been postponed in the wake of terrorist attacks in Brussels.

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The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) had planned a 24-hour mass stoppage at all airports on Thursday, but announced on Wednesday it would not go ahead after an intervention from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“We have agreed to Mr Turnbull’s request to postpone these strikes in good faith and conscious of the understandable concerns of travellers in the wake of the Brussels attacks,” Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood told reporters today.

“Our members would never take industrial action that compromises Australia’s national security at this time or any time,” she said.

Turnbull today joined the global condemnation of suicide bombing attacks in Brussels that have killed at least 34 people and injured more than 100.

He has been joined by Hafez Kassem, a prominent leader of Australian Muslims, who says the world must stand united and reject all forms of terrorism “with one voice”.

Turnbull didn’t mix words as he responded to the latest terrorist attacks in Europe.

“The Australian people absolutely condemn these cowardly terrorist attacks,” he said on Wednesday.

“We are absolutely shoulder to shoulder with Belgium, and the people of Belgium in this fight against terrorism.”

Australians have been told to avoid travelling to Brussels, while those there have been told to be alert and avoid areas around the bomb sites.

There are no reports of Australian casualties, although Turnbull said it was still “early days”.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is in Indonesia, has spoken to Australia’s ambassador in Brussels Mark Higgie for an assessment of the situation.

“It proves yet again that no country is immune from terrorism,” she told reporters.

Australian security agency chiefs are meeting on Wednesday to examine what lessons can be learned from the attacks, but the national terror threat is unchanged at probable.

Turnbull says Australia is in a stronger border security position than Europe which had no internal borders and porous external borders.

“The reality is, of course, that we have the benefits of geography,” he said.

Australians should be vigilant, but also strong, confident and optimistic as they go about their daily lives, the prime minister said.

Kassem, president of Muslims Australia, said he was horrified by news of the Brussels attack.

“I call on the international community, Muslims as well people of other faiths, or no faith, to stand united against all forms of terror, to confront it and to reject it with one voice,” he said.

Echoing Turnbull, Kassem said “we must make sure that the terrorists do not divide us”.

* Department of Foreign Affairs 24-hour emergency hotline: 1300 555 135

AAP

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