Doorstop interview

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: Today I announced a new partnership – the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Atlassian and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced a Solve-a-thon. This is a challenge to come up with the most promising ideas about tackling a significant issue for the future, and that is what will be the jobs, what will be the industries, what will be the sectors, that provide employment for young people, particularly in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific. So together we are asking the best and brightest ideas from people around the world to be submitted to our Solve-a-thon, and we will use those ideas to come up with policies that will address this issue of the future of workforces in our part of the world.

So I want to thank Atlassian Foundation and MIT for partnering with the Australian Government in yet another example of how we are embracing innovative ideas to tackle the challenges of the future in a world where technological change is so rapid, the scale and pace, disrupting the way we live, the way we work and the jobs of the future. It's important that the Australian Government in its overseas development program, embraces technology, embraces innovation to answer some of the most intractable questions that we have faced. So thank you to Atlassian and MIT.

Any questions?

JOURNALIST: The Labor Party is considering launching legal action against one of your MPs, David Gillespie, on the same constitutional ground that saw Bob Day disqualified. Is there any reason to worry?

JULIE BISHOP: It sounds like another Labor stunt It sounds like another attempt by Labor to disrupt and distract from the Government's policies that are clearly being effective. We're clearly able to get our legislation through the Senate and it sounds like another Labor distraction. It comes down to a question of remoteness of interest, but we'll wait to see what detail Labor intend to come up with.

JOURNALIST: Do you feel that Labor have any grounds to stand on?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm not aware of any.

JOURNALIST: Just on North Korea, Donald Trump said that he's considering severe things against North Korea. Have you been in touch with our US counterparts to actually decipher what that might mean?

JULIE BISHOP: We're constantly in communication with our US counterparts, indeed I'm in text communication with my US counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This is now a global problem and this requires an international response in terms of condemnation and adherence to the UN Security Council sanctions regime. So we are calling on all countries to condemn North Korea's actions and to impose sanctions and implement the UN Security Council sanctions as Australia has done.

JOURNALIST: In terms of if the US did go ahead with military options, would that mean that Australia would be obligated to join that given our relationship, our alliance?

JULIE BISHOP: This is a hypothetical that has many different angles and many different levels and I wouldn't answer such a question. I will continue to call on the international community, including the members of the UN Security Council, to make sure that the sanctions regime is applied universally, and that we all join in condemning North Korea for these flagrant breaches of UN Security Council resolutions. North Korea is thumbing its nose at the UN Security Council – that includes Russia and China – and this is now a global problem, it is now a global threat.

JOURNALIST: Leaders are saying that we need to ramp up pressure on China to intervene. How do we actually do that?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia has been calling for some time for China to leverage its unique relationship with North Korea. China is the major source of North Korea's foreign investment, of remittances, of technology, of finance. China has a unique relationship with North Korea and we have been calling for some time on China to use all its power, all its leverage, to help change North Korea's behaviour.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]…Barnaby Joyce's comments about the trade sanctions against China as irresponsible. Do you think he's a loose cannon as Acting Prime Minister?

JULIE BISHOP: Not at all, and I've read the Acting Prime Minister's comments and my statement is not inconsistent with that. My statement is we have no plans to impose sanctions on any nation other than North Korea in relation to North Korea's ballistic missile testing.

JOURNALIST: But originally he raised sanctions as an option. Do you think that's a helpful comment to make at any point?

JULIE BISHOP: There is already a regime of sanctions. The UN Security Council has announced a regime of sanctions and Australia and other countries are duty bound to apply those sanctions. Countries also have the opportunity to impose autonomous sanctions, that's a matter for each country. I've recently reviewed Australia's autonomous sanctions and expanded the range of sanctions on individual North Koreans and on the North Korean regime for its role in the ballistic missile program and a potential nuclear weapons program.

JOURNALIST: But he was speaking specifically about Chinese companies?

JULIE BISHOP: The Chinese companies are also covered by the UN Security Council resolution. He was stating the obvious: that all countries are obliged to apply the UN Security Council sanctions regime.

JOURNALIST: There are talks that Australia is not at an immediate threat from North Korea. What is your opinion on this, given the fact that they are firing ballistic intercontinental ballistic missiles?

JULIE BISHOP: It has been reported and confirmed that the North Korean regime has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. The risk is that it is also developing a nuclear weapon that could be mounted on such an intercontinental ballistic missile. That is not only a threat to our region, that is a global threat.

JOURNALIST: With infighting in the Liberal Party, do you think that Cory Bernardi's new party poses any threat to the Liberal support and possible [inaudible]

JULIE BISHOP: I don't accept the premise of your question. I'm not infighting with anyone, and the Liberal Party under Malcolm Turnbull has had some outstanding policy successes and if we focus on ensuring that all our efforts are to improve the lives of Australians, then we will continue to receive the support of the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask another one on David Gillespie if you don't mind. Has the Government sought any advice about the validity of his election?

JULIE BISHOP: I've just arrived home from overseas. That would be a question that I would direct to the Attorney-General. OK, thank you very much.

- Ends -

Media enquiries