ABC 730, interview with Leigh Sales

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: And Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joined me a short time ago. Foreign Minister, thank you for joining us.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure Leigh.

JOURNALIST: There were four Australians caught up in the terrorist attacks in London on the weekend, two of them are OK, what is the status with the other two?

JULIE BISHOP: We are aware that four Australians were affected by the terrorist attack. One is in hospital and one is on his way home, and there are two other Australians for whom we hold very grave concerns. Our authorities in London, our officials, are still investigating the matter and still in contact with the London authorities to determine the circumstances.

JOURNALIST: To some of the broader questions that this raises, in the 16 years since 9/11, we have expanded police powers, we have sent our military abroad to fight wars, we have spent billions of dollars on intelligence and counter-terrorism capabilities, and yet ordinary citizens are less safe from terrorism than ever. Why?

JULIE BISHOP: The terrorist threat is evolving. There are different players, there are non-state actors, the terrorist organisations are metastasizing, they have different patterns of behaviours, they're sending different messages. So it's an evolving threat and we have to ensure we have the resources and the capability to respond to it, but…

JOURNALIST: [interrupting] Given all the resources that have gone into it, why aren't we ahead of that?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe that we are. In Australia we have thwarted 12 terrorist attacks, about 60 people or more have been arrested in terrorist-related offences. As a community we are doing all we can to share information, to provide information to the police and we're certainly encouraging the Muslim community to provide information when they fear that one of their children or one of their friends is at risk of becoming radicalised.

JOURNALIST: In the UK, the Foreign Secretary there, Boris Johnson, said that the wells of tolerance are running empty. In your view in Australia, do we have a problem with too much tolerance of extreme religious or cultural views?

JULIE BISHOP: I spoke to Secretary Boris Johnson last evening and we had a discussion about Prime Minister May's speech where she essentially said enough is enough, there's been too much tolerance of these extremist voices in London, in England.

JOURNALIST: And is that the case here?

JULIE BISHOP: We have a different scenario. Australia is one of the most successful multicultural nations on earth and what we are able to do very successfully is integrate them, whereas I'm afraid in parts of Europe, including in the United Kingdom, there have been attempts to integrate, but they have failed, obviously, in many instances. So I'm not suggesting Australia is immune and I'm not suggesting we shouldn't be anything but clear-eyed about the terrorist threat, but we do have different circumstances here.

JOURNALIST: You said earlier today that the voices of moderate Islam must be louder than the voices of radicalisation. Are they in Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm urging community leaders, school leaders, religious leaders, family members, to ensure that young people, in particular, hear the voices of moderation and not the voice of hate and bigotry and savagery that we have seen in recent times.

JOURNALIST: They do do that though, don't they?

JULIE BISHOP: There are community leaders who are very, very forceful in their condemnation of these terrorist attacks but it has to be across the community. We must all be united in our condemnation of these deplorable savage acts where people are now using everyday items, motor vehicles, knives, these aren't sophisticated attacks…

JOURNALIST: And where do you see when you look across the Australian community insufficient condemnation of that?

JULIE BISHOP: It's been a point that I have been making for some time, that we need to be continually condemning this, condemning these acts and also ensuring that other members of the community who are at risk of radicalisation hear that the voice of moderation is the powerful voice. It's something we will have to do time and time again until we can eradicate this kind of terrorism from the face of the earth.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, joined the British Prime Minister Theresa May today in saying that more needs to be done by technology companies to counter the spread of extremism and terrorism planning, he singled out Facebook and Twitter. What does that mean practically? What do you want those companies to do?

JULIE BISHOP: Practically it would mean dealing with the kind of posts that are encouraging radicalisation. We can stamp down on something like child pornography, everyone knows that when child porn goes up on the internet, it can be taken down. When the kind of posts that incite hatred and violence and radicalisation and teaching people how to carry out these savage, positively medieval attacks, then there should be an ability to take that kind of post down immediately.

JOURNALIST: And those companies would have to police that themselves?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, this is what's happening in other areas. We are able to take down offensive material. This kind of material is dangerous, it's a risk to our communities, and we believe that it should be able to be taken down.

JOURNALIST: You were part of the regular AUSMIN meetings today with the American Foreign and Defense Secretaries, how much harder is President Trump making their jobs with his egocentric, intemperate tweeting about world affairs?

JULIE BISHOP: They're your words…

JOURNALIST: [interrupting] I think they're objective actually, based on his tweeting?

JULIE BISHOP: We had a very positive engagement today with Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis. It's an important meeting, it's an opportunity for us to gain perspectives and insights at the highest levels of the US Administration…

JOURNALIST: [interrupting] And is President Trump making their jobs harder?

JULIE BISHOP: They were very engaged, it was a very open and frank discussion – it was one of the most positive engagements I've had in any of these 2+2 meetings. Both Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson were eager to hear our views, they have got a number of reviews underway for their foreign policy and defence positions – whether it be in Afghanistan or counter-terrorism – and we exchanged ideas and views and suggestions…

JOURNALIST: You have not answered my question: is President Trump making their jobs harder?

JULIE BISHOP: Well they certainly didn't appear to be struggling in any way. They were very open, very engaged, and very positive about the President's foreign policy positions. They spoke positively about the impact of his visits recently and we're certainly very pleased that President Trump has confirmed that he'll be coming to the East Asia Summit in Manila later this year. That sends a very strong message to our region, to…

JOURNALIST: [interrupting] What do you think though…

JULIE BISHOP: …to our part of the world that the President believes that South East Asia, our part of the world is important to United States' interests.

JOURNALIST: What do you think personally of President Trump, do you trust his judgment?

JULIE BISHOP: I haven't met President Trump but I certainly am very impressed with his Cabinet, those that I have met…

JOURNALIST: [interrupting] What about him though?

JULIE BISHOP: I haven't met President Trump so...

JOURNALIST: [interrupting] But you must have a view of him, he's the US President, we see plenty of him.

JULIE BISHOP: I have a view of the Administration and the people that I'm dealing with, and Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis are very impressive Cabinet members. Vice President Pence has been to Australia, I have had a number of dealings with him, and spoken to him on the phone and met with him and they are putting forward the US interests, but they're also very cognisant of Australia's interests and we're working very closely with the US Administration. We have engagement at the highest level. I know Prime Minister Turnbull has met President Trump and they got along fine.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, thanks very much for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

- Ends -

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