ABC AM - Interview with Kim Landers

  • Transcript, E&OE
11 July 2017

KIM LANDERS: Julie Bishop is the Foreign Minister, she joins me on the line from Croatia. Minister, good morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning, Kim.

KIM LANDERS: Do you think the Prime Minister's remarks that Robert Menzies never intended the Liberal Party to be conservative will antagonise some of your colleagues?

JULIE BISHOP: Well it shouldn't. I've read a transcript of the Prime Minister's speech. It is to a British audience and it very eloquently articulates our values as the Liberal Party and he refers to Sir Robert Menzies' efforts in the 1940s to consolidate the centre right of Australian politics. It's an historically accurate account of how our founder, Robert Menzies, called the Liberal Party a progressive party, believing in freedom and the rights of individuals and free enterprise and how Menzies expressly rejected naming the party the conservative party, because it was to combine liberal and conservative traditions - what John Howard always referred to as the broad church, or what Tony Abbott called the sensible centre. Of course it is in stark contrast to Labor, that believes in big government and is entirely beholden to the unions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the unions, answerable only to union bosses and duty bound to deliver benefits to union bosses of the calibre of those at the head of the CFMEU.

KIM LANDERS: [Interrupts] So it shouldn't be seen as a rebuke to those in the party who've been critical of the Liberal Party's direction?

JULIE BISHOP: It is an historically accurate articulation of how the Liberal Party gained its name and he speaks of the values articulated by Robert Menzies which are as relevant today as they were in the aftermath of World War Two. I think there's one element of his speech - and I've got the transcript in front of me - he says: so the balance between the individual and the state, our side of politics leans heavily in favour of freedom and the individual, preferring choice over prescription and freedom over regulation, always sceptical about the wisdom and interference of governments.

That sums up the contemporary Liberal Party as much as it did the foundation of the party over 60 years ago.

KIM LANDERS: If I could turn to your trip. You're the first Australian Foreign Minister to make an official visit to Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. What do you hope to achieve?

JULIE BISHOP: I am visiting countries in southeast Europe, in particular meeting with government leaders and ministers in Zagreb, in Belgrade, in Skopje. They are aiming to be, or are members of the European Union and NATO - two organisations that are of vital importance to Australia's economic and national security.

For example, I'm in Croatia at present, a country with whom we have strong connections between our citizens - there's a large Croatian community in Australia - and it's an increasingly important voice within the European Union, within NATO. They are supporters and advocates of the international rules-based order, and they are a democracy. They are committed to freedoms, we are very like-minded democracies in fact. Croatia is also part of the Coalition Against ISIL. So we discussed counter-terrorism, we discussed the fact that Croatia has a vibrant Muslim community and has managed integration between ethnic and religious communities exceedingly well, given the challenges it's had. We are also pursuing a free trade agreement with the European Union, and Croatia will be an important voice in that decision.

KIM LANDERS: You mentioned the fight against terrorism and in Iraq the Prime Minister there has declared victory over the Islamic State group in Mosul. Aside from our military training could Australia now help with reconstruction efforts?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia has provided funding in the past. In April we provided $10 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs and we're providing $100 million over the next three years to support critical stabilisation efforts and to lock in these security gains. This is a major milestone in Iraq's fight against ISIL. Mosul was the largest city under control of ISIL and the place where it declared its so-called caliphate in 2014.

I well recall visiting Baghdad in about October 2014 when Prime Minister Abadi sought Australia's support in training, advising, assisting Iraqi security forces to take back control of their territory and defeat ISIL. Since that time Australian Defence forces have trained about 24,000 Iraqi security forces including about 4,000 police. So the liberation of Mosul is not only a huge milestone for Iraq, it's a significant milestone in the fight overall against ISIL.

KIM LANDERS: If I could turn to North Korea. Was the G20's failure to issue a statement on North Korea's missile tests a missed opportunity?

JULIE BISHOP: Prime Minister Turnbull informed me that the leaders did discuss the threat posed by North Korea on the first day of the G20 Summit. It is essentially an economic forum. Indeed it's the premier international forum for global economic cooperation. The place for…

KIM LANDERS: [Interrupts] Big issues like this were often discussed. Were you disappointed that the US President didn't want to try to rally world leaders around an agreed statement on North Korea?

JULIE BISHOP: Well the place for the focus on North Korea is clearly in the Security Council, particularly amongst the permanent five members and that includes Russia and China. North Korea is thumbing its nose at the Security Council. There are numerous UN Security Council resolutions banning the type of ballistic missile testing that North Korea is undertaking, preventing North Korea from pursuing a nuclear weapons program - and leaders at the G20 discussed the need to develop an appropriate response through the UN Security Council to address North Korea's continued violation of these resolutions. There must not be any division between the Security Council members, there must be no lack of resolve otherwise North Korea will believe that it has the imprimatur of other countries like Russia and China to continue…

KIM LANDERS: [Interrupts] Do you acknowledge the role that the US does play in trying to lead the world - do you think Donald Trump is not up to the job because he doesn't seem to want to rally people around this issue?

JULIE BISHOP: Well the United States is already playing a very active role. At the Security Council I met with their permanent representative Ambassador Haley when I was last in New York. The United States, under President Trump, are very active in redoubling their efforts to implement unanimously agreed UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions against North Korea to press upon it that its current path is unsustainable - and the United States is a leading voice in calling on China to do more, given China's unique relationship with North Korea. It has a unique ability to use its undoubted leverage through its foreign direct investment, its remittances, and its financial support to help North Korea change its behaviour.

KIM LANDERS: Alright Minister, thank you very much for speaking with AM.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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