Doorstop with The Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health

  • Transcript, E&OE

KEN WYATT: It is great having Julie Bishop here today in the electorate. We had a forum in Mundaring just a short while ago, talking with local businesses about what the economy is doing for them and how we are growing a strong economy, creating more jobs and giving Australians a sound basis in which to financially plan from. It is great to have you here Julie.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you Ken. I am delighted to be here with Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, and importantly the Member for Hasluck here in Western Australia. This morning the Prime Minister and Senator Michaelia Cash made the great announcement that over one million new jobs have been created since the Coalition Government came to office - 1,013,600 new jobs. That is what our budget is all about - growing a stronger economy, creating an environment for more jobs and also productivity-enhancing infrastructure. Today, we are confirming that the Turnbull Government has committed $3.2 billion for vital infrastructure funding for roads and rail here in Western Australia. We are standing at the intersection of the Tonkin Highway and Welshpool Road. $183 million will be invested by the Turnbull Government in grade separated interchanges at the intersection of Tonkin Highway, Hale Road, Welshpool Road and Kelvin Road. This is about road safety. It is about alleviating congestion and also connectivity to make sure goods and services can get from our regional areas to our ports and business people can get to work. It is a great announcement - $183 million for upgrades to the Tonkin Highway.

KEN WYATT: This complements $144 million for the Great Eastern Highway interchange, $82 million for Midland Railway Station to be moved closer to the St. John of God Hospital and $10 million for the scoping study for the Orange Route which will take trucks of Great Eastern Highway making it safer for truck drivers but more importantly for the families who come down from Mundaring into the city and those going up.

JULIE BISHOP: In contrast, Bill Shorten is in Perth today and he is announcing a re-establishment of a completely discredited Labor vocation scheme. You remember their 'cash for clunkers'? Well, this is the education equivalent of another one of their disastrous policies. His announcement is based on ensuring that he increases taxes by $200 billion. Bill Shorten can't be believed. All of his promises are based on hiking up taxes by $200 billion.

JOURNALIST: Are you guys worried about the effect of not running a candidate in the Perth by-election, and what that could do to voters in the local area?

JULIE BISHOP: We understand that to win a seat that has been held by the Opposition from Government at a by-election is almost impossible. It has only happened once in over 100 years of Australian political history. So we have to be realistic and pragmatic about the fact that we have now got a number of by-elections forced upon us by Bill Shorten misleading the Australian people about the eligibility of his members of Parliament to sit in the Parliament. He looked the Australian people in the eye and he said not one of his members had a citizenship problem, yet all the while he knew that at least four were in ineligible to sit in Parliament. We now have a spate of by-elections and the Turnbull Government is having to ensure that we can run in seats where have a chance of winning, and to win a seat off of Opposition in Government, a by-election forced by the Opposition nevertheless, is nigh on impossible.

JOURNALIST: Sticking with by-elections, are you doing anything to head off a preselection challenge against yet another female MP with Ann Sudmalis in New South Wales?

JULIE BISHOP: These are matters for each state division. I am focusing on what the Western Australian division does, but I certainly encourage the preselectors around Australia to preselect on merit but also give women an opportunity. Of course, sitting members have the experience that they can bring to that preselection process. As a Western Australian member, and the Liberal Party does these things state by state, I am focusing on the West Australian outcomes.

JOURNALIST: Looking at Section 44, would you assess most Australians would be prepared to support a change to the Constitution? That would allow dual-citizens-

JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe there is a need for a change. The Constitution has been quite clear, and the High Court has made it clear that only Australian citizens can stand for Federal Parliament, and I don't believe that the Constitution needs to be changed to enable dual-citizens to stand for Parliament. It is simple: renunciate any dual-citizenship. Renounce it and as an Australian citizen you can stand for Parliament. Now, a number of politicians have learnt that the Constitution will be upheld by the High Court as it was meant to be, that only an Australian citizen can stand for the Federal Parliament. There can't be dual-citizens.

JOURNALIST: Onto Alexander Downer – why did the Government break with diplomatic protocol and allow him to be interviewed by the FBI?

JULIE BISHOP: These are matters of security and intelligence, and I don't intend to go into them.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that it might damage the PM's relationship with Trump, which has just been repaired?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe so.

JOURNALIST: How concerned are you about the situation in Indonesia at the moment and what advice do you have for Aussie travellers?

JULIE BISHOP: We are deeply concerned with the spate of terrorist attacks in Indonesia, particularly targeting innocent civilians and police officers. We are deeply concerned and working very closely with the Indonesian Government. We have been supporting the Indonesian Government in intelligence, security, information sharing, law enforcement and law and order. We will work very closely with the Indonesian Government to ensure that these terrorist attacks can be thwarted and that is why we are spending a lot of time and effort working with partner countries in our region. We recently signed a counter-terrorism agreement with the ten nations of ASEAN including Indonesia.

JOURNALIST: Minister, do you think it is getting to the point now where travellers should be reconsidering Indonesia as a destination, particularly at the moment?

JULIE BISHOP: These are isolated attacks in parts of Indonesia where not many Australians travel but nevertheless, we do urge people to read our Smartraveller advice. At this stage we have updated it on a number of occasions to reflect the situation on the ground, but also exercise a high degree of caution is the level of the risk associated with travelling to Indonesia.

JOURNALIST: Just back to Alexander Downer – has the Trump Administration registered any unease with Australia over his involvement with that investigation and have you sought to explain it to them?

JULIE BISHOP: Most certainly not with me – it has not been raised with me.

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