Doorstop interview

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: I hope that the Summit goes ahead. If it does it will be a breakthrough in terms of seeking a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. We have been down this path before. North Korea is in defiance of numerous United Nations Security Resolutions in relation to its illegal ballistic missile and nuclear programs. In the past North Korea has agreed to do certain things and then broken those promises. I hope that we see a step forward in terms of denuclearisation - verifiable, concrete steps by North Korea to denuclearise and that we will see the opportunity for a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

JOURNALIST: Are you confident of Trump's tactics and are you concerned at all about his comments that he doesn't need to prepare much ahead of it?

JULIE BISHOP: We are hoping that the summit goes ahead. It is a US-North Korea summit, Australia is certainly supportive of the summit proceeding and we hope that the two sides will be able to come up with a pathway to peace and that will include North Korea denuclearising and taking genuine steps to show that it is denuclearising. That is an important issue for Australia and the globe, to ensure that the threat of nuclear weapons no longer exists.

JOURNALIST: Is the upcoming round of by-elections under threat of foreign influence?

JULIE BISHOP: We have introduced foreign interference laws that are not directed at any one country but they are timely because our intelligence community, our experts have told us that there is a risk of foreign interference in our democratic processes.

This is important legislation that we hope will be passed as soon as possible. We appreciate Labor's bipartisan approach to it. This is a matter of our sovereignty and upholding our democratic institutions. We are one of the longest continuous democracies in the world. We are an open democracy, committed to freedoms and the rule of law and our democratic institutions and these laws strengthen and support that history and the democratic institutions behind it.

JOURNALIST: Minister, have you or your Department received any new contact from the Chinese Government on this issue in the last day or so, and were there any concerns?

JULIE BISHOP: I returned from the North Pacific last evening and I've not been made aware of any.

JOURNALIST: Why is your Attorney General saying it is urgent to pass these foreign interference laws this month but Minister Pyne is saying they're not?

JULIE BISHOP: We are going to break for the winter shortly. I think there are only a few weeks left. Our intelligence community tells us these are important laws. The Joint Standing Committee has spent some time considering them and given the advice that we've received from our intelligence community we should get on with it as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST: Are the laws linked to the by-elections at all? Is there any possibility, the need for them to be passed urgently – is there a need for the by-elections?

JULIE BISHOP: My understanding is that the intelligence community have given us advice that these laws are necessary and timely and therefore they should be passed in this session of Parliament. There is no need for us to wait until the break. We can pass them now.

JOURNALIST: Minister, Twiggy Forrest has said that China will most likely become a democracy, do you agree?

JULIE BISHOP: I think he is quoting the words of President Xi Jinping. Over time political systems evolve. But I haven't seen Mr Forrest's comments in any detail.

JOURNALIST: And what do you make of the allegations about special forces troops committing war crimes in Afghanistan?

JULIE BISHOP: These are very serious allegations and I know our defence force takes them seriously. There is an investigation underway so it would be inappropriate for me to comment. The SAS is within my electorate and I regard the soldiers of the SAS as some of our finest. These are men who are prepared to put their life on the line in conflict situations to defend us, defend our freedoms. They are, in my opinion, one of the finest fighting forces in the world.

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