Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the riots at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. on Thursday were “distressing” and hoped for a peaceful transition of power.
Morrison told reporters the United States was one of the greatest democracies in the world and that Australia’s thoughts are with them in this difficult time.
“The riots and protests that we have seen in Washington D.C. have been terribly distressing,” he said. “They are very concerning.”
Morrison said that he hopes Australia’s “great friend,” the United States, has a “peaceful and stable transition of government to the new administration.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese shared Morrison’s sentiments and, in a video posted on Twitter, labelled the events a “great tragedy” for democracy in the United States.
“Democracy is precious and should not be taken for granted,” he said. “It should be defended anywhere in the world.”
The comments come after protestors wearing pro-Trump apparel broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The protestors disrupted a joint session of Congress which was established to certify the electoral college results in the 2020 election.
After the protesters entered the building, triggering the evacuation of members of Congress, one person was shot and later announced dead.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said President Trump directed the National Guard to send in forces along with federal protective services.
The Department of Justice also sent in hundreds of federal officers and agents from the FBI to assist, according to Capitol Police Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Trump released a video to address protestors and told them to “go home” after calls came from Presidential nominee Joe Biden and leaders of Congress and the Senate.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love in peace. Remember this day forever!” the president said in the now-removed video.
“I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace.
“We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us—from me, from you, from our country,” he added.
“This was a fraudulent election. But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home, we love you, you’re very special. You’ve seen what happens, you’ve seen the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace.”
Australia has updated its travel advice for the United States as a result.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned that curfews are in place in the District of Columbia and Commonwealth of Virginia from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6, to 6 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7.
Australians have also been warned to avoid areas where protests are occurring due to the ongoing potential for violence.