Channel 9 News - interview with Kerrie Yaxley

  • Transcript, E&OE

INTRODUCTION There's no doubt 2014 has been a big year for Australia's first female Foreign Minister. Julie Bishop says she's happy representing our country on the world stage but won't be drawn on her ambitions for the top job. She spoke to our political correspondent Kerrie Yaxley.

JULIE BISHOP What is this thing called 'jetlag?'

KERRIE YAXLEY To say Julie Bishop is the busiest woman in Australia wouldn't be too much of a stretch. She has visited 37 countries in 15 months, taken countless flights, chaired two meetings of the United Nations Security Council, held bilateral meetings, trilateral meetings with world leaders from all corners of the globe.

You obviously would know a lot of world leaders, a lot of foreign ministers. Any favourites?

JULIE BISHOP Former Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and I became very close friends. A former Secretary of State for the United Kingdom William Hague was also somebody that I came to know very well. Of current foreign ministers, Secretary of State John Kerry and I get along exceedingly well. I sound like I'm namedropping, don't I?!

KERRIE YAXLEY That's alright, I think you are allowed to!

JULIE BISHOP And I always try to exchange mobile phone numbers so that we can text each other wherever we are in the world and that has come in very handy in some pretty crucial situations, to be able to text a foreign minister and say, "where are you? I need to talk to you".

KERRIE YAXLEY And also getting a ride back from Myanmar to Sydney.

JULIE BISHOP Yes, like the poor cousin. I couldn't get a flight back from Myanmar that would get me to Sydney in time to meet Secretary Kerry at the airport in Sydney. I found out that he was going to be in Myanmar and would be flying back, so I rang up and said, "Can I have a lift on your plane?"


JULIE BISHOP And he said, "Why not?" I think the State Department was a little taken aback by the request.

KERRIE YAXLEY It is that self-assured determination which helped her get the first meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Clip of Prime Minister: Absolutely, look I'm going to shirtfront Mr Putin.

KERRIE YAXLEY At home the Prime Minister created uproar when he threatened to shirtfront the Russian leader at the G20 Summit after Russian authorities refused to accept any responsibility for the downing of MH17. On the sidelines of an international summit in Italy it was Julie Bishop who secured the breakthrough meeting.

JULIE BISHOP It was more like a diplomatic buttonholing than a shirtfronting. After that meeting, we did see the Dutch authorities get access to the site. That is what I asked him - to use Russia's influence over the Russian-backed separatists to enable the independent authorities to get onto the site.

KERRIE YAXLEY It was an early morning phone call that alerted the Foreign Minister to the horror that had taken place in the skies above Ukraine.

JULIE BISHOP When my phone rang at 2am in the morning on the 18th of July I knew it wouldn't be good news, but not in my worst dreams did I imagine that I would be told that a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying a number of Australians had been shot down. I knew at that moment that we had a huge challenge ahead of us, but I didn't realise how much of a challenge it would be over the coming months. We knew that we had to get our people home.

KERRIE YAXLEY According to opinion polls, Julie Bishop's popularity has skyrocketed among voters. Magazine 'Harper's Bazaar' has named her Woman of the Year. She puts it all down to a focus on big international events and her role as Foreign Minister, but her successes and popularity beg the question, does she want to lead her country?

JULIE BISHOP I am in my dream job. I came into politics with a secret hope that one day I would be fortunate enough to be the Foreign Minister, so I am living my dream.

KERRIE YAXLEY But you couldn't rule it out?

JULIE BISHOP I am not going to play this 'rule in, rule out' game, because it doesn't matter what I say the media will then try and make something of it.



I just want to emphasise that I could not be more proud or more privileged to be Australia's Foreign Minister.

KERRIE YAXLEY Over Christmas the Foreign Minister will be turning her attention to domestic duties.

JULIE BISHOP You have to have inexhaustible supplies of energy for this job so I'll just take a few days off to renovate the apartment and have a bit of a spring clean.

KERRIE YAXLEY Kerrie Yaxley, Nine News.

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