Doorstop interview, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Transcript, E&OE

Good afternoon. We're breaking into normal programming to take you to Hobart where Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is speaking to the media and she is also accompanied by the Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman.

WILL HODGMAN: Thank you very much, Julie, for leading the delegation to Tasmania.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you, Premier, and I want to thank Will Hodgman for hosting our delegation here today. We have over 80 diplomats Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Charge d'Affaires from over 80 countries represented on this delegation and they have taken enormous interest in Tasmania as a potential destination for investment, for greater trading relationships and they are also very interested in the advanced manufacturing, the science and research focus here in Tasmania, the magnificent produce and wine that is grown here and in fact it's become quite evident that "made in Tasmania" or "grown in Tasmania" is a recognisable worldwide brand.

We are hoping that as a result of this visit, there will be more trade between the visiting countries and Australia and particularly Tasmania. Under the three free trade agreements that the Coalition Government established in recent times with China, Japan and Korea, there are already enormous opportunities for Tasmanian exporters, small, medium and large, to sell their goods and services into these huge markets to our north and this visit underscores the importance of focusing on Tasmania and the jobs and growth that we are seeing in this State and the potential for so many more as a result of Australia and Tasmania's capacity to sell world-quality high-class goods and services into the markets to our north.

So Premier Hodgman, thank you again for having us here today and Premier Hodgman, I also want to note that my Federal colleagues in Eric Hutchison, Andrew Nikolic and Brett Whiteley were very grateful that you were able to host us today.

JOURNALIST: Minister, have you heard from Kerry Wilson's family and have you confirmed that she has been kidnapped?

JULIE BISHOP: We have been in contact with Katherine Wilson, otherwise known as Kerry Wilson's, family. We are continuing to liaise with Afghan authorities regarding this matter but yes, we are providing consular support to her family.

JOURNALIST: Can you confirm that she was kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan by a group of armed men in military uniforms?

JULIE BISHOP: The details of the reports are still being confirmed with the Afghan authorities but they certainly believe she has been kidnapped. We are seeking to confirm all of the details but we are in communication with her family.

JOURNALIST: Do you know about her welfare? Do you know if she's OK?

JULIE BISHOP: That is our priority, to ensure that she is well, that she's being treated well and so that's what we're focusing our efforts upon, working with the local authorities and our Embassy in Kabul of course is deeply involved in this matter.

JOURNMALIST: Apparently there is no evidence that a payment is being sought for her release. What do you suspect the kidnappers want?

JULIE BISHOP: Well it is counterproductive for me to start speculating. I will confirm details once they have been confirmed by our Embassy in Kabul and in liaison with the Afghan authorities handling this matter.

JOURNALIST: What can you do to help her?

JULIE BISHOP: We can work closely with the Afghan authorities who of course are in control of the territory. We have connections, networks in Afghanistan, and we will be seeking to confirm as many of the details as we can as soon as possible. In the meantime we're staying in close contact with her family. This is not the first time we have had reports of Australians being kidnapped. We have very experienced diplomats who able to handle these issues.

JOURNALIST: Can you categorically rule out paying ransom?

JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government does not, as a matter of policy, pay ransoms for kidnappers.

JOURNALIST: Any chance this could be solved diplomatically or will any other efforts be used?

JULIE BISHOP: We will do what we can to assure her safety but at present we're trying to confirm details. It could be counterproductive of me to speculate on matters that have not yet been confirmed by the authorities, Australian and Afghan, on the ground in Afghanistan.

JOURNALIST: What's the latest on the situation in Manus Island and have you had discussions, perhaps over a glass of pinot, with Mr Lepani?

JULIE BISHOP: I haven't had a glass of pinot on the trip, however, I have spoken with the PNG High Commissioner and our diplomats in Port Moresby are working with the PNG Government regarding this matter.

JOURNALIST: Is Peter O'Neill trying to get more money out of us ahead of an election with what's happening on Manus Island?

JULIE BISHOP: That has not been the subject of discussion between our respective Prime Ministers who had several conversations last night.

JOURNALIST: He hasn't asked for any more money?

JULIE BISHOP: That has not been the subject of any discussion.

JOUIRALIST: North Korea has tried and failed to test fire a second ballistic missile. What does this tell us?

JULIE BISHOP: It tells us that North Korea continues to be belligerent,that North Korea is continuing to go against the international norms and that North Korea continues to be a threat not only to regional but also global peace and stability.

JOURNALIST: How realistic is the prospect of New Zealand being a solution for the Manus Island situation?

JULIE BISHOP: This will be a matter for the PNG Government, assisted by Australia, to determine. The message from the Australian Government is that those who pay people smugglers to seek to come to Australia illegally will not be resettled in Australia. That is our policy and we'll continue to maintain that policy. However, we have been working with other countries, through the Bali Process and otherwise, to seek to find resettlement options for those who are deemed to be genuine refugees. Those who are not, who are not entitled to claim protection, should return home.

JOUNRALIST: Lawyer Julian Burnside has tweeted a refugee has died. Do you know if this is the case?

JULIE BISHOP: I am not aware of the current details. It is a very tragic situation but that would be a matter that the Immigration Minister would be commenting upon.

JOURNALIST: Just on Manus Island again, do you agree with Mr Lepani this is essentially the responsible of Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe it is an issue that must be resolved by PNG with assistance from Australia. What we will not return to are the chaotic days of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government when over 50,000 people attempted to make the dangerous sea journey to Australia by paying people smugglers. 1200 people died at sea and we will not return to those days when the people smugglers determined who comes to Australia. What we will do is work with PNG to find solutions for those who are found to be refugees, who can be resettled in PNG but are refusing to do so.

JOURNALIST: There are some reports that security has been more lax in the last 24 hours on Manus Island, people there are moving around and are allowed mobile phones and so on, are you comfortable with that?

JULIE BISHOP: If you read the PNG Supreme Court judgment it focused on a group of asylum seekers whose applications have not yet been processed, it didn't refer to those whose applications have been processed and determined. The indication was that those people should not be detained. So it would seem to be reasons of the Supreme Court that those people that judgement referred to, have that freedom of movement.


JULIE BISHOP: I am not aware of those details and if there are any details in the last couple of hours I am not aware of them.

JOURNALIST: S Kidman sale has been blocked, is this a 'line in the sand' when it comes to how much land the Chinese can buy?

JULIE BISHOP: Not at all. Each application for the purchase of land is subject to foreign investment review board consideration, if it meets those thresholds, and each one is considered on its merits and whether or not it is consistent with Australia's national interests.

JOURNALIST: A number of Tasmanian's politicians have suggested that people from Manus Island should come to Pontville. Do you have a view on that suggestion?

JULIE BISHOP: The people who pay people smugglers to attempt to come to Australia will not be resettled in Australia.

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