Doorstop interview

  • Transcript, E&OE
15 August 2017

JULIEBISHOP:Goodmorning. Onthe issue of NorthKorea, Australia is continuing its strategy of working with allies and partnersin placing political, diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to changeits behaviour. I can confirm that Australia has designated 37 individuals and 31entities, whom we believe have been involved in some way in NorthKorea's nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests.

We welcomethe news overnight that China is fully implementing UN SecurityCouncil resolutions imposing the toughest and most comprehensive packageof sanctions on North Korea to date, and China has stated that itwill be completely prohibiting the import from North Korea of coal,oil, iron ore and seafood.

Australiacontinues to urge all countries to uphold the authority of the UN Security Council,impose the sanctions universally and to ensure that whatever diplomatic oreconomic leverage they have with North Korea, that it be used to thefullest extent.

On the issueof citizenship, there has been a dramatic development this morning. TheNew Zealand Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern has revealed that BillShorten sought to use the New Zealand Parliament to underminethe Australian Government. Bill Shorten has sought to use aforeign political party to raise serious allegations in a foreign parliament designedto undermine confidence in the Australian Government. Bill Shorten hasserious questions to answer. This is highly unethical, at least, but moreimportantly, puts at risk the relationship between the AustralianGovernment and the New Zealand Government. Bill Shorten must revealwho he put up to this dirty task and the details of the urging of aforeign political party to be involved in efforts to undermine the AustralianGovernment. We're used to these dodgy backroom deals from Bill Shortenwhen he was leader of the union movement. He's now brought that into notonly Australian politics but into our international relationships,and Bill Shorten should be called to account for this appalling behaviour.

JOURNALIST:Minister,the New Zealand Minister, the relevant Minister Dunne, has said today that it'sutter nonsense to suggest that the Labour Party's question played any role andthat it was actually media enquiries and not the Labour Party's question. Whatdo you say to that?

JULIEBISHOP:I don't accept that. TheNew Zealand Labour Leader has confirmed that a Labour Member ofParliament was contacted by an unnamed Labor Member here inAustralia. Bill Shorten must reveal the name of that Member.

JOURNALIST:So are yousaying that you don't accept the Internal Minister's series of events fromNew Zealand?

JULIEBISHOP:Bill Shorten must reveal therole he played in getting one of his Members, that he's refused toname, and I would be calling – I do call on Bill Shorten to name thatperson and he needs to reveal his involvement in what is treacherousbehaviour.

JOURNALIST: You said that this has put atrisk the relationship between Australia and New Zealand. How so?

JULIEBISHOP:New Zealand is facing anelection. Should there be a change of Government, I would find itvery hard to build trust with those involved in allegations designedto undermine the Government of Australia.

JOURNALIST:Havejournalists who asked questions of the New Zealand Government behaved treacherouslyas well?

JULIEBISHOP:I'm referring to BillShorten using a foreign political party to raise questions in a foreign parliament deliberatelydesigned to undermine confidence in the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST:Can I clarify your previous answer?Are you saying that you would not trust a New Zealand LabourGovernment?

JULIEBISHOP:I would find it verydifficult to build trust with members of a political party that hadbeen used by the Australian Labor Party to seek to underminethe Australian Government.

JOURNALIST: The New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister explicitly said thatwas nonsense, he said it started with media enquiries. Are youcalling into question the official version of events here?

JULIEBISHOP:I explicitly call intoquestion Bill Shorten's ethics. The Labour Leader said thismorning that the Labor Party in Australia contacted the Labour Party inNew Zealand and we know what occurred. Allegations were raised in aNew Zealand Parliament deliberately designed by the Labor inAustralia to undermine confidence in the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST:Haveyou spoken to Peter Dunne, the Minister?

JULIEBISHOP:No, Ihave not.

JOURNALIST:Have you contacted anyone inthe New Zealand Government or the High Commission about this?

JULIEBISHOP:I maintain constant contact withmy colleagues in New Zealand.

JOURNALIST:This morning, though,have you made any contact this morning?

JULIEBISHOP:I maintain constantcontact with my colleagues in New Zealand.

JOURNALIST:Butnothing this morning? No contact this morning?

JULIEBISHOP:I maintain constantcontact with my colleagues in New Zealand.

JOURNALIST:Isthis the first that the New Zealand Government has learned of your displeasure,this media conference?

JULIEBISHOP:Imaintain constant contact with my New Zealand colleagues, and I'm not goinginto the details of conversations that I have had, but I do call on BillShorten to revealthe name of the Labor Member who urged a New Zealand Member ofParliament, this is a foreign political party, to raise questions ina foreign parliament deliberately designed to undermine confidence inthe Australian Government.

JOURNALIST:This New Zealand Labour MP tookit upon himself to put questions on the notice paper. There's nosense of coercion.

JULIEBISHOP:Areyou making a statement or are you asking me a question?

JOURNALIST: I'm asking you the question.

JULIEBISHOP:Well Idisagree.

JOURNALIST:Minister,can you argue that if this conspiracy or whatever is true, that Labor and the New Zealand Parliamentwere doing what Barnaby Joyce should have done in the first place andchecked his own citizenship given that he had a New Zealand father?Doesn't he bear some responsibility for this?

JULIEBISHOP:If Labor had any interest inresolving the uncertainties that arise from Section 44 of theConstitution – and might I point out again that there are manyuncertainties involving their Members of Parliament that should bepursued – if he had any interest in resolving the uncertainties,wouldn't he have raised it in the Australian Parliament? Wouldn't hehave raised it in a letter to the Prime Minister? Why involve aforeign political party and a foreign parliament to resolve what isan Australian issue? I find his conduct utterly unacceptable. If hewas serious about resolving uncertainty for the good governance ofthis country, uncertainties that involve his Members of Parliamentand his Senators, then surely he'd raise the question in the Australian Parliament?He'd write to the Prime Minister? He'd write to the Deputy PrimeMinister? But no, in a typical back-handed dodgy way, Bill Shorten soughtto invoke the services of the New Zealand Labour Party to aska question in the New Zealand Parliament. Highly unethical atthe very least.

JOURNALIST: So you'll believe treachery but you donot believe that the Minister of Internal Affairs in New Zealand, who is not aMember of the Labour Party's version of events?

JULIEBISHOP:Ibelieve that Bill Shorten should be called to account for his role in urging -

JOURNALIST:Do youbelieve Minister Dunne?

JULIEBISHOP:I'mjust answering your question -

JOURNALIST:Noyou've answered with that already.

JULIEBISHOP:WellI'll say it again. I believe that Bill Shorten should be held accountable forhis role in urging a foreign political party to raise questions in a foreignparliament deliberately designed to undermine the Australian Government. Thankyou.

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