6PR Mornings, Perth - interview with Gary Adshead

  • Transcript, E&OE
31 August 2015

GARYADSHEADThe front of the Australian newspaper today, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishoptalking about what's next in relation to Islamic State, or Da'esh as she likesto call the organisation. The Foreign Minister joins me on the line.

Thanks verymuch for your time Minister.JULIEBISHOPGood morning Gary.

GARYADSHEADOkay, you're talking specifically about whether Europe could be doing more. Whyis that, because of the amount of people that are leaving some of the countriesimpacted by Islamic State?

JULIEBISHOPWell Gary there's a humanitarian crisis in Syria of unprecedented proportionsand because of the conflict between the Assad regime and the fact that hisregime used chemical weapons against his own people, the conflict with ISIL orDa'esh, as it's called in the region, al-Nusra and other terroristorganisations, the fact that Turkey has also entered the conflict, means thatmillions of people from Syria are leaving and millions in surrounding countriesare also heading to Europe.

I understandthat about 40 per cent of those seeking asylum in Europe are from Syria. Soclearly we need to solve this problem at its source so that people aren'tdisplaced. So we need both a military and a political solution in Syria andalso a military solution in Iraq. The longer term goal is to ensure that nationalsovereign governments are in control of their own territory and can protecttheir people from terrorism and protect them from these terrorist organisation.So that's why we're in Iraq, working with the Iraqi government to build thecapacity of their security and defence forces and why we're taking part in airstrikes on these military bases occupied by Da'esh and why the United Stateshas asked us to consider expanding our role to include air strikes over Syria,because essentially it's one theatre of conflict. The border between Syria andIraq is now open to these terrorist organisations and they're launching attackson the people of Iraq from Syria.

GARYADSHEADSo you don't think that perhaps further air strikes and more countries gettinginvolved could add to the displacement of people, to the people move…..

JULIEBISHOPNo, I believe the sooner we are able to defeat Da'esh the better it will be. Itwill provide a great opportunity to restore some kind of peace in some of thesewar torn nations that have been absolutely ridden with conflict and so one ofthe major sources of the displacement of people is the terrorism activities ofDa'esh. So if we can defeat Da'esh and if that could be done sooner rather thanlater, then we can get on with ensuring that these countries are able to comeup with a political solution and have inclusive governments that representthe interests of all of the people.

GARYADSHEADAre you saying that there's intelligence as well that Da'esh are involved inthe people smuggling?

JULIEBISHOPThere is certainly concern and evidence to that extent, that the terroristorganisations are profiting from the people smuggling trade. They are gettingfunding through drug trafficking, people smuggling, weapons trades, blackmarkets in a whole range of areas and so this is also a concern. There are alsoconcerns that the terrorists are targeting some people who are fleeing fromcountries as potential foreign terrorist fighters. So it's a very toxic mix ofthese sophisticated terrorist organisations and vulnerable people fleeing areasof conflict.

GARYADSHEADI suppose a lot of people would expect that there are European countries whoare actively involved, and not just obviously in air strikes, but clearly onthe ground in Iraq with training and so on, but what are our Europeancounterparts doing in relation to air strikes at the moment?

JULIEBISHOPThereare about 60 countries as part of a broader coalition providing support to theUS-led Coalition. There are about 30 countries who are more deeply involved,Australia is one of those, and then there are a handful of countries that aresupporting the United States with air strikes and it depends whether it's overIraq or over Syria, but most certainly France, the Netherlands, Denmark, othercountries are taking part. In Syria, the other partners include Middle Easterncountries, UAE, Jordan and Bahrain has also been involved.

GARYADSHEADOkay, in terms of what's next, are you any closer to deciding whether or notfrom a legal point of view, from a legal standing,Australia should takepart in air strikes in Syria?

JULIEBISHOPWe are considering the United States request very carefully. There is not onlythe legal basis, and of course we have to have a credible legal basis in orderto do this. The United States have legal advice as do other countries that airstrikes in Syria come under the legal principle of collective self defence ofIraq and the Iraqi people. Indeed the Prime Minister of Iraq, has pointed to thefact that Da'esh is operating out of Syria to attack the Iraqi people as areason why the air strikes should also be over Syria so we'll take our ownlegal advice on that. Turkey, I mentioned before, Turkey is now taking part inair strikes over Syria based on individual self defence because they believethey are directly threatened and also through the collective self defence ofIraq principal, but we also have to look at our capability, our capacity totake part and the strategy and what outcome we could expect if Australia wereto be involved.

GARYADSHEADMinister, if I can just ask you about Peter Greste, obviously two of hiscolleagues have been jailed in Egypt for three years, Peter Greste himself, buthe's not there, he was deported, so he doesn't have to go through the hell ofbeing put into a Cairo Prison. These other two colleagues though of his, hesays he won't stop fighting until he's got them released. Is there anything theAustralian Government can do at this stage?

JULIEBISHOPWe have been fighting for Peter Greste to help him clear his name ever since hewas first detained, and I'm just grateful we were able to get him out of Egyptafter the appeal and before the retrial and of course he is now home safe inAustralia. But he's deeply concerned about the fact that he's now beenconvicted in his absence and that two of his colleagues have also beenconvicted and now sentenced to three years. I will continue to make the highestlevel representations I can to the Egyptian government, and we will work withother countries who have a direct interest in this, including Canada. And I'vehad a number of discussion with my counterpart Foreign Minister Rob Nicholsonfrom Canada about this in the past and will continue to do so. I think it doesnot reflect well on Egypt. We have respected their judicial and legalprocesses, we have made representations at the political level and that didresult in the Presidential decision to release Peter Greste earlier this year,but we will continue to work with him and his lawyers to help clear his name.

GARYADSHEADObviously it sends a pretty strongmessage to any Australian journalist that might be being sent to that countryat the moment, what's the advice? You wouldn't expect any organisation toreally send someone there at the moment.

JULIEBISHOPWeexpect all our Australian citizens to abide by the laws of the country and ofcourse we provide advice to anyone travelling overseas as to the dangers, therisks, the threats that they might meet, but at the end of the day people haveto be responsible for their own activities. We will provide consular and othersupport as and when Australians get into trouble, but we certainly ask them toseek advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We have aSmartraveller website, if people log on to that they can get a pretty clearpicture of the threats and risks of travelling in specific countries.

GARYADSHEADOn the Canning by-election if I can, clearly there's speculation today thatshould things go bad there that Joe Hockey's job is on the line, that Cabinetmembers as well as MPs have spoken to the PM about Joe Hockey. Is that true?

JULIEBISHOPWell I certainly haven't spoken to the Prime Minister about this. My focus ison supporting Andrew Hastie, the Liberal candidate for the Canning by-election.By-elections are always difficult for an incumbent government, but this is anelection for the people of Canning to choose their representative. It won'tchange the government, but it provides the people of Canning with anopportunity to select a member to replace Don Randall who so sadly diedrecently. Andrew Hastie is an outstanding Australian. He will bring rare skillsand insight from his time serving as an officer with the SAS and I believe he'sgot the character and the temperament to represent the people of Canning. And Ido point out that a vote for Labor would endorse Bill Shorten's mission to bethe Prime Minster for the union bosses. So I think the people of Canning wouldbe well served by electing Andrew Hastie as their representative.

GARYADSHEADJust on that, Dyson Heydon will decide his own fate later on today. What's youradvice to the Commissioner given the pressure that he's under?

JULIEBISHOPWell those leading the charge against Dyson Heydon are motivated by one thing,and this includes Bill Shorten, to cover up the corrupt and illegal acts withinthe union movement and to protect corrupt union bosses. This Royal Commissionis not politically motivated, it's not investigating the Labor Party. It'slooking into the allegations of systemic corruption, union bosses ripping offhonest union members. So its work must continue on behalf of decent workingpeople who have been shamefully let down by union officials. And the workof the commission is already being proven because 26 or so union officials havealready been referred for investigation and prosecution.

GARYADSHEADJust finally, can I just throw one at you from left field, there's reportscoming out from India, now I know we've forged stronger relations with India,given their immense workforce in terms of trade. Can I just ask you though,have you heard this story about how a bloke who ran off with someone from alower cast, the punishment in relation to that now will be the raping of histwo sisters. Have you heard this story?

JULIEBISHOPI have heard this story, clearly these allegations are appalling and we'll beinvestigating that. Issues of human rights abuses around the world are quitedistressing and Australia takes a stand on these issues, we're an open liberaldemocracy, we are committed to freedoms, democratic institutions, the rule oflaw, we don't lecture or hector other countries, but we try and demonstratethrough our experience and what we stand for, that there is a much better wayto deliver peace and prosperity by embracing human rights and freedoms for yourpeople.

GARYADSHEADObviously… the Federal Government, can they exercise their right to show theirdispleasure at that?

JULIEBISHOPWell I willobviously have to get more details about the specifics of the allegations, butI am aware of the story.

GARYADSHEADThanks very much for joining us Minister.

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