ABC Radio ANZAC Day Special - Interview with Laura Tchilinguirian

  • Transcript, E&OE
25 April 2017

JOURNALIST: The Dawn Service is due to get underway shortly in Gallipoli. This year the crowd is a little smaller than in previously years and security is tighter than ever before. Turkish armed police and military officers have been swabbing every vehicle heading into Anzac Cove. The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, is in Gallipoli to speak at the Dawn Service and she's with me now on the phone. Hello, Minister.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning, Laura. How are you?

JOURNALIST: Good. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us this morning. Much has been made of a smaller turnout. Are you disappointed by the crowd numbers?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, it's just after 4am and I'm on a ferry travelling across the Dardanelles. So I'm about to attend the Dawn Service on the Gallipoli Peninsula. I do expect the crowd to be much smaller than in previous years and that's entirely to be expected. First, there's now a greater focus on the commemorative services being held on the Western Front, recognising the centenary of battles fought in 1917. But secondly, official advice for Australians travelling to Turkey is to "exercise a high degree of caution" for the country as a whole and to "reconsider your need to travel" to Istanbul, Ankara and some other parts of Turkey. So while I won't comment on the specific threat reporting, the security arrangements at Gallipoli show the authorities are taking the matter very seriously.

JOURNALIST: War Memorial Director, Brendan Nelson, has said that he's disappointed people are choosing to stay away from Gallipoli, saying that we can't let the threat of violence push us around. What's your personal view on that?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, the significance of the Dawn Service at Gallipoli won't be diminished by the size of the crowd, and I'm sure that those who will be gathering there will participate in a very emotional and moving ceremony. So I urge people to continue to attend Anzac services wherever they are around the world. It's so important for us to continue to honour those who gave their lives so that we could live in the freedom that we do. So it's important for us to continue to attend Anzac services, and in fact I think it's our duty and responsibility to ensure we never forget those who died in our name.

JOURNALIST: And how confident are you in the Turkish armed police and military?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm very confident that the Turkish authorities are taking the security intelligence very seriously. They have a significant law enforcement and security presence here. I was attending a number of services yesterday on 24 April and I noted the very high level of security. The Turkish authorities have a great deal of experience in doing this; of course we had about 10,000 visitors for the 2015 centenary Dawn Service at Gallipoli. So they have a considerable amount of experience in dealing with security issues at such an event.

JOURNALIST: Minister, who have you spoken to since you arrived in the country?

JULIE BISHOP: I have met with Turkish authorities, including the Governor of Canakkale and the Minister for Culture. I have spent a lot of time with my New Zealand counterpart, the Minister for Justice Amy Adams, because we are holding the Dawn Service jointly. It's a combined Australia New Zealand service. I'll also be attending a Lone Pine service today, which is an Australian held event, and then the New Zealand service at Chunuk Bair. There's a group of Australians here. We have soldiers, Chief of Navy, our diplomats including James Larson, our Ambassador from Ankara. So there's a considerable number of Australians and New Zealanders here, and I'm looking forward to meeting those who will be attending the Dawn Service this morning.

JOURNALIST: And what will be your official role this morning?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm delivering the remembrance speech. I'll be speaking for about five minutes. I think it'll be fairly well-timed because it is a live cross to Australia and I will be speaking about the dawn landing on 25 April 1915, the incomprehensible loss of life, the unspeakable conditions our Anzacs endured, but that their courage, their resilience, their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their mates, certainly helped forge our national character and identity. The Anzac legend lives on, and that's why it's so important for people around the world- Australians around the world to continue to support Dawn Services and other services that are held to commemorate this extraordinary generation of Australians.

JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, as an Australian, not just as a politician, what are your personal feelings around Anzac Day?

JULIE BISHOP: It's a very special day for my family. I have been receiving photographs of my dad, who's 94 and was in the march through the streets of Adelaide this morning. And my sisters took him to march with the 10th/48 Battalion, but there were only two of them left, and so it's a very poignant day for me, for my family, as it is for thousands and thousands of Australians. But it's also a very humbling day when you think of the sacrifice that young men made; going off to fight in a far distant land, leaving behind family and friends and loved ones, and so many of them never to return. It's a very sad and moving and emotional day.

JOURNALIST: And Minister, before I let you go, something in the news today: do you expect the Prime Minister's going to travel to New York next week for his first face to face chat with President Trump?

JULIE BISHOP: I understand that there is some planning underway, but it will depend upon the schedules of both the President and the Prime Minister. Of course, it's a very busy time in Australia in the lead up to the Budget on 9 May, but I'm sure the Prime Minister will seek to juggle the competing schedules of a potential meeting with President Trump and the necessity for him to be present for Budget preparations.

JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, thanks so much for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

JOURNALIST: The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop there, speaking to us on a ferry as she's crossing the Dardanelles at the moment on her way to Anzac Cove for the ceremony, the Gallipoli Dawn Service, that will be taking place this morning- later this morning.

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