ABC RN Breakfast interview with Fran Kelly

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Earlierthis morning I spoke with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Fran.

JOURNALIST: The US has become the first country to formallyrecognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Pope Francis has expressed hisdeep worry at this announcement. How much harder now will it be to achievepeace in the Middle East?

JULIE BISHOP: We believe that the best outcome for the Israeli andPalestinian people is for there to be a negotiated two-state solution where thepeople of Israel and the people of Palestine can live side-by-side in peacebehind internationally recognised boundaries and the political identificationof Jerusalem, for example, should be the subject of those final statusnegotiations.

JOURNALIST: As you say it should be, it remains the status ofJerusalem, the question of Jerusalem remains one of the last hurdles, one ofthe most intractable problems in the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians. Youheard Donald Trump there, he said the US supports a two-state solution, if bothsides agree this won't do anything, this won't change anything about thecontested borders – but is that naivety?

JULIE BISHOP: We've not ever supported unilateral action on eitherside. We believe that for there to be an enduring peace both sides must cometogether and negotiate an outcome and that includes in relation to the statusof Jerusalem.

JOURNALIST: We spoke earlier to Mustafa Barghouti, a representativeof one of the Palestinian factions, and he said basically this is the end ofit, don't ever talk about negotiation again because by making this declarationthe US has no, no capacity to play a role in this.

JULIE BISHOP: The United States has, for a very long time, sought tobroker a peace and we've seen many examples where the peace has been mediatedbut then rejected by one or other side.

JOURNALIST: The President when he made the announcement saidrecognising Jerusalem is "nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,the Israelis regard this as their capital, it's their seat of Parliament" doyou agree with that?

JULIE BISHOP: We believe that the political identification ofJerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. That's always been ourposition. It's been a longstanding position of both sides of the AustralianParliament.

JOURNALIST: And it remains Australia's position, we should getthis on the record that Australia does not recognise Jerusalem as the capitalof Israel?

JULIE BISHOP: We believe that the identification of Jerusalem is amatter for the final status negotiations between the Israelis and thePalestinians.

JOURNALIST: And given the President's statement there thatrecognising Jerusalem is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality, Iknow you have made some comments in recent times suggesting that Australia couldextend its diplomatic presence to Jerusalem, are there plans on the table forthat?

JULIE BISHOP: I was asked to consider whether Australia would dothat and I have considered it and I don't believe it's necessary. We have anembassy in Tel Aviv that's been there – we've been there in Tel Aviv since 1949– and remembering that Australia was the first nation to vote for thatpartition resolution 70 years ago to create the State of Israel. Australia hasbeen a staunch supporter of Israel but we placed our Embassy in Tel Aviv and wehave no plans to move it.

JOURNALIST: The response throughout the Middle East to theannouncement from Donald Trump has been universally hostile. Turkey says DonaldTrump is "plunging the region and the world into fire with no end in sight",the Arab League says it's a blatant attack on an Arab nation, of course,blatant aggression, the Palestinian Ambassador to London says Donald Trump hasdeclared war on one and a half billion Muslims. Are you worried this could leadto violence and unrest throughout the region?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm deeply concerned at the level of unrest now. Thefault lines between Turkey and the Kurds, between the Sunnis and the Shiites,between the Saudis and the Iranians and I'm concerned at the level of tensionnow and of course would not support any action that would add to that.

JOURNALIST: Germany and France are warning their citizens ofpossible clashes in the wake of this declaration by the US President. IsAustralia updating its travel advice for Australians in Israel and in theregion?

JULIE BISHOP: It's most certainly under review at present.

JOURNALIST: What does that mean?

JULIE BISHOP: That means that we're considering whether we shouldchange our travel advice. We are monitoring the situation very carefully. We'regetting feedback from our Embassy in Tel Aviv and in the region.

JOURNALIST: And beyond our travel advice are you looking atincreasing security at the Embassy and around the region?

JULIE BISHOP: We're taking advice.

JOURNALIST: You're listening to RN Breakfast, speaking withForeign Minister Julie Bishop. Julie Bishop, on the foreign interference lawsthat are being unveiled by the Government this week, the Chinese Embassy herein Canberra says the laws will undermine "mutual trust between our twocountries" and says the Australian Government's adopted a Cold War mentality.The Prime Minister insists this regime is not aimed at China but that's not theway the Chinese see it. Are you concerned the Chinese are feeling so bruisedhere?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't accept that that's the way our legislationshould be viewed. This is not targeted at any one nation and if people areabiding by our laws then there should be no concerns.

JOURNALIST: Have you taken steps to reassure the Chinese giventhat that is how they are viewing it, clearly?

JULIE BISHOP: We have a very constructive relationship with ChineseGovernment and with the Embassy here. I believe the Chinese are deeplyconcerned by the media attention on Senator Sam Dastyari. He really has broughthis relationship with the Chinese into disrepute and I can understand theirconcern about Senator Sam Dastyari but our legislation is of course aimed atensuring that Australians act in Australia's national interest and I'm sure theChinese understand and respect that.

JOURNALIST: And the Chinese statement from the Embassy, theAmbassador's statement says "China has no intention to interfere in Australia'sinternational affairs or exert influence on its political process throughpolitical donations." That goes directly to the laws that are being introducedand what many believe is the motivation behind them. Do you believe thatstatement from China?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe that China is concerned with examples likeSenator Sam Dastyari who received the payment of personal debts by a Chinesebenefactor and then proceeded to adopt Chinese foreign policy that was directlycontradictory to not only Labor foreign policy but the Australian Government'sforeign policy.

JOURNALIST: But do you believe China has no intention to interferein Australia's internal affairs or exert influence through political donations?

JULIE BISHOP: Well I'm pleased to hear the Chinese Embassy is makingthat statement but our legislation is directed at all nations. Australians mustsupport our national interest first and that's why Senator Sam Dastyari's caseis such a disgrace because he was putting the interests of another nation aheadof Australia's national interest. Indeed, he was seeking to actively undermineAustralia's national security operations.

JOURNALIST: Speaking of Sam Dastyari's case, the Government's seena revival of fortunes in recent days and it started, really, with therevelation that Senator Sam Dastyari advised the Chinese businessman HuangXiangmo that his phone could be tapped. There's been a lot of speculation abouthow that intelligence leaked to the media or how it leaked to Sam Dastyari, orhow it leaked at all. Did the Government have anything to do with this?

JULIE BISHOP: No we did not.

JOURNALIST: So how do you – are you satisfied yourself about howthe media got hold of that information?

JULIE BISHOP: I understand that the media was informed but certainlynot by anyone on the Government's side. It seems that Mr Shorten was advised byour intelligence agencies about a particular person of interest. Through "backchannels" that information made its way back to Senator Sam Dastyari.

JOURNALIST: You think it came from Bill Shorten?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm just saying what I've read in the media and thatthen Senator Sam Dastyari actively took steps to compromise what he believed tobe an Australian intelligence operation. Now whether there was or was not Idon't know but Senator Dastyari believed there was an intelligence operationunderway and he took active steps to thwart it. I think that is a disgrace andthat Senator Sam Dastyari's position is completely untenable. He's utterlycompromised. He should step down.

JOURNALIST: Just before I finish on this Bill Shorten we shouldsay, he's said he didn't tell Sam Dastyari anything, Sam Dastyari said he wasin possession of no secret intelligence information and yet what we now know isthat Sam Dastyari went, apparently, and warned this businessman that the phoneswere being tapped. How did we know that he did that, does this represent a misuseof the intelligence agencies?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe so. Senator Dastyari is yet to denythat he sought to thwart what he believed to be an Australian intelligenceoperation.

JOURNALIST: I'm interested in how we know that.

JULIE BISHOP: I don't know that, I have no idea. It certainly didn'tcome from the Government.

JOURNALIST: On another issue the Government is going to try againtoday to refer a number of Labor MPs to the High Court over their citizenship.Justine Keay, Susan Lamb, Josh Wilson but you won't agree to do the same for abunch of Liberals, Jason Falinski, Nola Marino, Julia Banks, Alex Hawke, whynot just send all these people up to the High Court end the Parliamentary here,draw a line under this crisis once and for all. That's what people want theParliament to do.

JULIE BISHOP: Fran, we did that, with Senator Fiona Nash, with theDeputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, others have already been to the HighCourt. What we now have is a number of Labor Members who by their own admissionwere dual citizens at the close of nominations. Now, they must refer themselvesor Labor must refer them to the High Court but what they're now seeking to dois take a number of Liberal Members who are in exactly the same position astheir Members. Let me give you the example, Nola Marino has a letter from theGreek Embassy saying she is not, and never has been, oh Italian, an Italiancitizen. Tanya Plibersek has a letter from the Slovenian Government saying sheis not and has never been a Slovenian citizen. Why would they refer one but notTanya Plibersek? It's exactly the same evidence. The Governments of othercountries know whether or not they are citizens and if there is a letter fromthe Government of another country that should be enough.

JOURNALIST: Jason Falinski has legal advice that says on the baseof it doesn't think it is but it could be – it's got caveats in it. Why notjust test it?

JULIE BISHOP: Oh Fran, the situation of Jason Falinski is his fatherwas stateless when he came to Australia and if you read the legal advice it'squite clear that he would not be caught up by Section 44 of the Constitution,it's quite clear. But you've got Labor Members who by their own admission weredual citizens. Let's send those dual citizens off to the High Court. They'vegot no right to be sitting in the Parliament.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop thank you very much forjoining us.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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