JULIE BISHOP: Overnight we learned that Australia has been overwhelmingly elected to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council. We stood for the Western Europe and Others group and together with Spain, we have been elected for a three year term. There was an overwhelming level of support for Australia and we will serve, as I indicated during our campaign, in a principled and pragmatic way to ensure that our voice is heard in this most important United Nations forum.
JOURNALIST: We did go to a lot of effort to get on the Council, why is that?
JULIE BISHOP: It is important for a country like Australia – an open, liberal democracy committed to freedoms, the rule of law, democratic institutions, and the international rules-based order – to play our part in promoting human rights around the world. There are a number of significant human rights crises at present, in North Korea, in Syria and elsewhere, and Australia will bring a very principled and pragmatic voice to the discussions and the actions taken by the UN and member countries.
JOURNALIST: How seriously are we taking North Korea's threat to not support the US?
JULIE BISHOP: The threats from North Korea only strengthen our resolve to find a peaceful solution to the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula which have been caused entirely by North Korea's illegal ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests. We are part of a collective strategy to impose maximum pressure on North Korea through economic sanctions, through diplomatic means, to ensure that it changes course.
JOURNALIST: Donald Trump is planning to head to the region, what impact do you think that will have?
JULIE BISHOP: I believe it will be a very important visit. The President of the United States will be visiting Japan, South Korea, China and also be attending the East Asia Summit and APEC in Vietnam and the Philippines, and it's an opportunity for the President to outline the United States continued engagement in the region. The Leaders I speak to throughout our region want to see more US leadership not less, and this is an opportunity for President Trump to detail that level of engagement.
JOURNALIST: Dumping the clean energy target, is this a win for Tony Abbott?
JULIE BISHOP: This is a win for the Australian consumers who will get cheaper energy prices as a result of a mechanism that the Australian Government will introduce that focusses on reliability and affordability as well as meeting our international obligations. It is unacceptable for a country like Australia to have blackouts during summer, as we saw in South Australia in recent years. So what we will be announcing today after the Party Room has considered it, will be a mechanism that will guarantee reliability, it will drive prices down and it will meet our international obligations.
JOURNALIST: Can you explain how that money will be saved?
JULIE BISHOP: The guarantees that we'll be looking for will give investment certainty and it will increase supply, and prices are a result of supply and demand.
JOURNALIST: Why go against the recommendation of the Chief Scientist?
JULIE BISHOP: In fact this is building on the work of the Chief Scientist, and the regulators have come up with this mechanism working very closely with the Chief Scientist. There are a number of ways of achieving reliability but this is the most effective and the most efficient, and we are taking the advice of the regulators, the experts who say that this is a far better mechanism than others that have been proposed.
JOURNALIST: How do you think this will go in the Party Room?
JULIE BISHOP: We will wait and see.
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