Doorstop - ASEAN-Australia Summit

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: With the leaders of Myanmar and Cambodia here, activists have expressed human rights concerns. Do you share any of those concerns and how have they been represented at this meeting?

JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government has expressed its concerns directly to the Governments of Myanmar and Cambodia and these issues are being discussed at this meeting.

JOURNALIST: Very good. Tell me, can we have your response to the results of the election in South Australia? What do you think of them? How important are they in terms of federal policy?

JULIE BISHOP: Steven Marshall led a very talented and united team. He focused on jobs, economic growth. He had substantial policies and I believe he's going to make a very good Premier of South Australia. The fact is Labor had been in government for 16 years and the State was going backwards economically and Labor made it a referendum on their energy policy and I think the South Australian people have spoken. Under Labor's experiment, South Australia had the highest electricity prices in the country and the least reliable. Now under Steven Marshall the Liberal Government will work with the Turnbull Government to implement the National Energy Guarantee which aims for affordable and reliable power.

JOURNALIST: One more thing if I could, the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, how has that been discussed in this meeting and how might our approach to that change in anyway as a result of these talks?

JULIE BISHOP: The ASEAN nations all uphold the right to freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight in the South China Sea according to international law. They are currently negotiating a Code of Conduct with China and other claimants to ensure that there is a lessening of tensions and that all nations that claim rights, maritime rights, do so in accordance with peaceful negotiation and international law including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. And Australia supports that decision. This has been discussed in most meetings. We have discussed the South China Sea.

JOURNALIST: Minister, Australia sent a senior official to Moscow as we understand to make representations to the Russian Government about the Skripal case. Can you tell us, who was that senior official and what representations were made?

JULIE BISHOP: No, we had a senior official visiting Moscow and the official took the opportunity when visiting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make our concerns known about this attempted assassination on British soil. Australia supports the United Kingdom in taking action and we have been discussing options. It is unacceptable for any country to deploy illegal chemical weapons anywhere at any time, and Russia as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has a responsibility to uphold international peace and security as well as upholding the conventions of prohibiting chemical weapons.

JOURNALIST: How much is the issue of China's influence (inaudible)

JULIE BISHOP: China is the number one trading partner for a number of nations including Australia. But the ASEAN nations also engage with other countries particularly the US and European Union, who between them are the largest sources of direct foreign investment. But I think interestingly, intra-ASEAN trade that is trade between the ASEANs is greater than their trade with any single country. So the focus is very much on economic development, peaceful development and the prosperity of our region.

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