Doorstop interview

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: I am here in Brisbane because the State of Queensland is facing an election on 25 November, and I am with Trevor Evans, the Member for Brisbane and Belinda Kippen, the LNP candidate for the seat of Miller…

Today I have been visiting communities in Cleveland with the LNP candidate Mark Robinson, in Springwood with our candidate Julie Talty, in Mansfield with the Member Ian Walker, and here in Miller with Belinda Kippen. … Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Just moving out of Queensland for a bit, have you or the Prime Minister approached crossbenchers to secure their support for referring Labor MPs to the High Court?

JULIE BISHOP: There is one rule for all and that is if there are significant uncertainties about people's eligibility to sit in the Federal Parliament, they should refer it to the High Court. Bill Shorten believes there is one rule for the Coalition and that his Members are not subject to that rule. He's not holding his own Members to the same standard that he's applying to the Coalition. So we know that there are significant uncertainties around at least two Members of the Labor Party who are currently sitting in the Parliament. A former Solicitor General has said that they are ineligible to sit. There is responsibility on Bill Shorten to refer his Members to the High Court. He should do the right thing as the Coalition has done, where Members have had questions raised about their eligibility, they have stood down. We've had a High Court case, we are referring people to the High Court, there are by-elections. Bill Shorten is hiding the truth from the Australian people. He's got to come clean and he has to refer those with question marks about their eligibility to the High Court.

JOURNALIST: Labor is warning that it will "go nuclear" if you take this step and expose other Coalition MPs with citizenship questions. Are you concerned by that threat?

JULIE BISHOP: Labor is full of threats, that's the way they operate. Bill Shorten should not be hiding his Members of Parliament who have serious questions to answer in relation to their eligibility. Now we have done the right thing. John Alexander had questions about his eligibility and so he has stood down and there will be a by-election. Bill Shorten is trying to run a protection racket, he must be honest with the Australian people and if there are question marks around his Members of Parliament about their eligibility, they should be referred to the High Court.

JOURNALIST: Minister, we are already looking at multiple by-elections because of this situation, how many is too many if we continue sort of down this road? When should we say enough and just call a general federal election?

JULIE BISHOP: … Now that's on our side. We've done the right thing. I call on Bill Shorten to face the Australian people, be honest about the eligibility of his Members of Parliament, given that a former Solicitor General says that at least two, Justine Keay in Braddon and Susan Lamb in Longman, are not eligible to sit. Just be honest Mr Shorten.

JOURNALIST: If it is reasonable for Justine Keay and others facing questions to go to the High Court, why shouldn't Coalition MPs like Julia Banks and Alex Hawke be referred?

JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister has set out a process whereby Members and Senators can make a declaration as to the status of their citizenship and their eligibility to sit in the Parliament, and if Bill Shorten had agreed then we would proceed with it immediately. The fact is we already know that there are two Members of the Labor Party, the Members for Braddon and Longman, where there are serious questions for them to answer and yet Bill Shorten is hiding them. So I call on Mr Shorten to be honest with the Australian people and those Members of the Labor Party who have serious questions to answer, they should be referred to the High Court as we have done. We have got nothing to hide. I believe that those two Members should not sit in Parliament if there are still questions to answer about their eligibility.

JOURNALIST: Minister, just a question about the State Election. You are here today throwing your support behind the Party, how big will the role that you are playing be this campaign? Can we expect to see you up here in Queensland again?

JULIE BISHOP: I have been asked to meet with communities in local electorates, I have been visiting businesses and sporting clubs and here at the Western Magpies, as local Members ask me to visit. I will see if there is any more that we can do but of course Parliament will be returning soon and the election is on 25 November, but I am here today and I will be here all day tomorrow as well.

JOURNALIST: Can we expect Prime Minister Turnbull also to come up here before the State Election?

JULIE BISHOP: I am hoping he will be able to, that's a matter for the State LNP to work out their campaign, but I know he is very supportive of Tim Nicholls and the team. …

JOURNALIST: One last question from me. What's the latest development with the Quad meeting in Manila? Will there be an officials only meeting and what will be discussed?

JULIE BISHOP: The officials from Australia, the US, Japan and India have met in Manila at officials level, and this is natural given that we are all likeminded countries committed to regional stability, security and prosperity. So at this stage the officials have met and we will take it from there depending on the outcomes of that meeting, then we will see what progress can be made.

JOURNALIST: Do you know more about what was discussed?

JULIE BISHOP: We are talking about regional security, regional stability, regional prosperity. We are all likeminded democracies, we are committed to the Indian Ocean-Asia Pacific region, we have much in common – similar values, similar interests, similar priorities.

JOURNALIST: You're Acting Prime Minister for the second time in recent history at the moment. How are you enjoying that role and is it something you would like to do sort of full time?

JULIE BISHOP: I have a responsibility as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party to be Acting Prime Minister when the Prime Minister is away and the Deputy Prime Minister is unavailable, and so it is part of my role as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and I am delighted to be here in Queensland supporting the LNP and candidates like Belinda Kippen in the seat of Miller so that we can return better government to the Queensland people.

- Ends -

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