ABC 730, Seoul, interview with Leigh Sales

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Withme now is Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister. She is in Seoul inSouth Korea for high-level talks. I will come to those in a moment, Minister. Ifwe can start with that hack. You are in Cabinet's NationalSecurity Committee, how is it possible that almost a year after thebreach authorities still have not been able to work out who isresponsible even to the degree of whether or not the hack came fromoverseas?

JULIE BISHOP: First, this was not classifiedinformation. It was not generated by the Australian Government, itwasn't our classified information. It was commercially sensitiveinformation that was being shared between contractors. I believe thatour intelligence agencies know who did it and how it happened and thecircumstances behind it. We place a very high priority on cybersecurity, increasingly so as more non-state and state actors areactive in cyberspace and we are certainly leading the world in the work toget a set of rules to govern cyberspace activity and I think a numberof states need to acknowledge that the activity in cyberspace needs tobe governed by a set of rules such as military and security operationsare in traditional domains.

JOURNALIST: Yousay the intelligence agencies know who did it, are you able toconfirm if it came from a foreign source?

JULIE BISHOP: I won't discuss intelligencematters to that extent, but I can assure you that the information wasnot classified information from the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST: Youare there in South Korea for the 2+2 security talks between the Foreignand Defence Ministers. Is Australia going to increase itsmilitary exercises with South Korea in response to North Korea'srecent belligerence?

JULIE BISHOP: We are in South Korea for thepurposes of the 2+2 meeting, that is the meeting between SouthKorea's Foreign and Defence Ministers and me as Australia's ForeignMinister and Marise Payne as our Defence Minister. We are talking inany event about increasing our cooperation across a range of areas,including defence, security, intelligence. We would be doing that inany event because of the nature of our relationship and the strategicthreats that we face and our commitment to regional security, but notspecifically in response to North Korea's provocative actions.We have said to South Korea that we stand with them in theircollective strategy of maximising the diplomatic and economic pressureon North Korea.

JOURNALIST: Whoin the United States Administration is correct in the policy approachon North Korea? The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who says thatdiplomacy is still a live option or the President Donald Trump, whosays that diplomacy won't work?

JULIE BISHOP: It is a combined approach. Theyare both correct because all arms of government, all arms of strategyare working towards ensuring that North Korea is deterred from any futureillegal acts, that is nuclear weapons tests or ballistic missile tests,and also ensuring that they are compelled to return to the negotiatingtable. Now, there are different approaches, different strategies, butit is all part of one collective approach to ensure that there ismaximum pressure brought to bear on North Korea. Whether that isthrough the rhetoric from the various players or whether it isthrough the diplomatic and economic pressure that is being deployed,all efforts are being made to ensure that we deter North Korea fromfurther illegal acts and compel them back to the negotiating table.

JOURNALIST: Isit credible that the US could increase its nuclear stockpile of weaponsin response to the threat posed by North Korea?

JULIE BISHOP: We are concerned that if NorthKorea is left unchecked, if North Korea continues its trajectory, itscapability, in terms of acquiring nuclear weapons, then this willtrigger proliferation, not only in our region but around the world.That is why we are working so hard with partners like the United Statesand Korea and Japan, also with China and the other members ofthe Security Council to bring maximum pressure to bear so that NorthKorea doesn't achieve its ambition of having an intercontinentalballistic missile with a miniaturised nuclear device capable ofreaching mainland United States.

JOURNALIST: There are reports thatPresident Trump could withdraw his support from the 2015 Iran nucleardeal as soon as this weekend. What is Australia's view on whether or notthe United States should stick by that treaty?

JULIE BISHOP: I discussed this matter withSecretary Rex Tillerson on Monday and made the point that Australiabelieves that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear dealwith Iran, should be maintained because there is no crediblealternative in relation to Iran's nuclear program. The United Statesis concerned about other activities on Iran's part, such as itssupport for organisations such as Hezbollah, its approach towards Israel,what it is doing in the Middle East. Our point is, let's maintainwhat is called the JCPOA because there is no credible alternative toit, but deal with Iran's other behaviour in separate arrangements ornegotiations. I don't believe the President yet has made a decisionor has yet publicly stated what his decision will be in regard to re-certifying theIran deal, but we are urging that it be maintained and Iran's otherbehaviour be dealt with in different circumstances.

JOURNALIST: Justone final question, Minister, regarding Tony Abbott's speech inLondon this week about climate change. Is he going to lose the nextelection for the Coalition with his constant undermining of MalcolmTurnbull?

JULIE BISHOP: Tony Abbott is entitled toexpress his views, as any other Member of Parliament, particularly inthe Liberal Party, is entitled to do. The views he expressed recently aredifferent to those he expressed as Prime Minister when he supported the Paris Agreement,in fact set our nationally determined targets and the RenewableEnergy Target was established under then Prime Minister Abbott. So itis up to him to explain the differences between his opinion then andhis opinion now, but we are determined to have a plan thatdelivers affordable, reliable energy, affordable, reliable power generation inAustralia and that we still meet our international obligations, which were,in fact, established under then Prime Minister Abbott.

JOURNALIST: You say he is entitled to anopinion like any other Member of Parliament, but isn't it possiblethat any other Member of Parliament would be disciplined or expelledfrom their party for the constant breaches of party discipline?

JULIE BISHOP: He is discussing an issue thatis controversial in some sectors of society, some sectors of ourcommunity. I think the question that has to be asked of TonyAbbott is, why does he have a different view now than when he was PrimeMinister? He is entitled to change his mind, but I am sure that iswhy there is a deal of interest in what he has to say. But theimportant thing is the Government's position and under Prime MinisterTurnbull we are working hard to come up with a plan that deliversaffordable and reliable energy and that will meet our internationalobligations. When we have that plan, it will be discussed by Cabinet andby the party room and then of course announced to the Australianpublic.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop, thanks for makingtime to speak to us on your trip.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you, Leigh.

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