ABC, AM program, interview with Chris Uhlmann

  • Transcript, E&OE
10 July 2014

Untitled Document

CHRISUHLMANNOne keen observer ofthe Indonesian election is Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister. Good morning.

JULIEBISHOPGoodmorning, Chris.

CHRISUHLMANNJulieBishop, are you concerned at all that both candidates are claiming victory inthe Indonesian poll?

JULIE BISHOPWell the officialresult won't be announced by the Indonesian Electoral Commission until 22 July.The new President and the Vice President will be inaugurated on 22 October anda new Cabinet appointed thereafter. So there is a way to go until the resultsare officially announced. It appears that trends in the results based onunofficial quick counts indicate that Joko Widodo is in the lead, but theresult won't be confirmed until 22 July.

Overallthough I believe Indonesia deserves deep congratulations on the successfulrunning of a presidential election. This is a significant milestone forIndonesia to conclude this presidential election given it's an exceedinglycomplex logistical exercise. 190 million registered voters across this vastarchipelago and voter turnout appears to be high. So I think it's a significantmilestone in what is the world's third largest democracy.

CHRISUHLMANNAlot of commentators have said that their expectations that relations betweenIndonesia and Australia would be worse after this result, no matter who won. Isthat your expectation?

JULIEBISHOPNo,not at all. As a fellow democracy we respect the will of the people ofIndonesia and we will certainly work closely with whomever is elected throughthis democratic process and we look forward to the results being confirmed andwe will of course work very closely with the new administration.

CHRISUHLMANNShinzoAbe of course leaves Australia for Papua New Guinea today. Why has Australiamade such a point of enhancing its defence ties with Japan during this visit?Isn't that inviting trouble from China?

JULIEBISHOPWe'reworking to deepen all of our relationships in the region. We know our futurelies in this part of the world and since coming to Government we've focused ourforeign and trade and defence priorities and efforts on our region. We haveFree Trade Agreements signed with South Korea and Japan. We're deeply involvedin negotiations to conclude a Free Trade Agreement with China.

We have beenincreasing our security ties with a number of countries in the region,including with China and we've just undertaken joint defence exercises withChina in what's called the RIMPAC exercise. So our focus on Japan is consistentwith our deeper engagement in the region generally.

CHRISUHLMANNButChina's made no secret of the fact that it believes that Japan's aim is to ringfence it and contain its growth and now we might well see Australia as beingpart of that.

JULIEBISHOPWellwe believe that the answer to any tensions in the region is deeper engagementand continual and regular consultation and that's what we seek to achieve withall of our partners and friends and neighbours in our region.

CHRISUHLMANNThedispute mostly at the moment is concentrated on the Senkaku Islands which Japanof course administers. When President Obama went there earlier this year hesaid that if there was a dispute over that between Japan and China that wouldtrigger the alliance between the United States and Japan. Does the ANZUS Treatyapply if the US gets involve in a dispute in the East China Sea?

JULIEBISHOPI'mnot going speculate about a hypothetical. The ANZUS Alliance is an obligationto consult and so these matters would be considered on a case by case basis.But I don't think it's helpful to look at whether the ANZUS Alliance would be triggeredin a particular circumstance because it is a commitment to consult each otherwhen the circumstances demand it.

CHRISUHLMANNButyou do believe the best way to deal with China is to speak frankly to it?

JULIEBISHOPI madethe point yesterday, in an interview I gather you're referring to, that thisGovernment will stand up and defend our national interest. We have an openexport-oriented market economy; we are an open and free democracy committed tothe rule of law and international norms. That's who we are and that's what wewill protect. I believe it's better to be clear and direct about where we standon issues than allow confusion or misunderstanding to occur.

CHRISUHLMANNAndyou were pretty frank about the East China Sea and you were met with a furiousresponse.

JULIEBISHOPWellyes, I did say that we didn't support unilateral action or coercive action andI've made that clear and we have also – in relation to the South China Sea –made it quite clear that we believe that any dispute should be resolvedpeacefully through negotiation and particularly through a Code of Conductinvolving the nations of South East Asia and China. We do not take a side onthese territorial plans, we do not take one side or the other on any of them,but what we do say is that these kinds of issues need to be resolved peacefullythrough negotiation.

CHRISUHLMANNYou'reacting Immigration Minister at the moment - now Government lawyers have toldthe High Court this week that the asylum seekers boat with 153 people on boardwon't be sent back to Sri Lanka. Where will it go?

JULIEBISHOPWellthis is a matter before the court, Chris, and I'm not going to comment onmatters that are in the midst of a judicial hearing. That would be entirely inappropriate.

CHRISUHLMANNCertainly,but it is the Government's decision as to where these people might go. Have youbeen in discussions with the Governments of Papua New Guinea or Nauru?

JULIEBISHOPI'mnot going to go into the details, Chris, because any matter that involves thepeople smuggling trade is subject to the policies of Operation SovereignBorders under the command of General Campbell and part of the success to datehas been not to provide the people smugglers with information that they use toply their trade.

ThisGovernment was elected to stop the practice of the people smugglers fromputting people on unseaworthy boats and sending them on a dangerous journey toAustralia. We saw men, women and children drown at sea and die on this journeyto Australia and the Australian Government is determined to stop that practiceand dismantle the people smuggling trade. And they work on information so Idon't intend to provide them information that they can use to continue theircriminal activities.

CHRISUHLMANNOnething we do know though is that the High Court is hearing this case. Thesepeople do have legal representation. Will the asylum seekers be able to accessthat legal representation by speaking to their lawyers?

JULIEBISHOPTheAustralian Government is aware of our obligations under international law.We're aware of our obligations and will abide them.

CHRISUHLMANNIsthat a yes, Minister?

JULIEBISHOPWellthat's an answer to your question.

CHRISUHLMANNIsit your intention to keep these people at sea until this case is heard?

JULIEBISHOPAsI said, Chris, it's before the courts, we've given undertakings to the court,we've given information to the court and it would be entirely inappropriate forme to discuss on air matters that are in the middle of a judicial hearing.

CHRISUHLMANNJulieBishop, we'll have to leave it there, thank you.


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