Police confirm ACL explosion not political
Published: 22 December 2016
Intimidation not behind van detonation
The explosion damaged the building and left oil and debris strewn over the carpark
Image © 2016 AAP Image/Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton
A suspected car bomb at the Australian Christian Lobby's Canberra office wasn't politically, religiously or ideologically motivated, police believe.
Windows are blown out and furnishings destroyed at the office in Deakin after it was rammed by a van carrying gas bottles about 9.35pm on Wednesday.
The driver, a 35-year-old local, took himself to the Canberra Hospital, suffering serious burn injuries and he remains there in a critical condition.
"As a result of our conversations with the man, we have been able to establish that his actions were not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated," Deputy Chief Police Officer Commander Mark Walters told reporters.
The police did, however, confirm that the explosion was the result of a deliberate detonation by the driver.
"The driver appears to have ignited gas cylinders within the vehicle, causing an explosion which damaged the vehicle and building," police said in a statement.
Police say they were only able to speak to the man for a short time before he had to undergo further treatment.
The police statement was in direct contradiction of an earlier statement made by the director of the ACL, Lyle Shelton, who said that he believed the attack was a deliberate attempt to silence the organisation.
"I'm sure it's a message to intimidate us and cause us to be silent in the public square and that's something we're not prepared to do.
"It's more important than ever that we have our voice involved in the public discourse."
An emotional Mr Shelton arrived at the Eternity House building on Campion Street on Thursday morning, having broken his holiday in Brisbane, to find the scene worse than he expected.
"This is not the Australia that I grew up in," he told reporters.
Mr Shelton said the apparent bomb follows a year of death threats over its opposition to gay marriage and the Safe Schools program that aims to reduce bullying of gay students.
One of those threats was tracked to a person in Tasmania but the rest were unable to be tracked, he said.
Police have now been in contact with ACL staff and investigations will continue into threats it has received.
Mr Shelton will appear on The Project tonight.
© 2016 AAP