Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra
JULIE BISHOP This ballistic missile launch is further provocative, destabilising and dangerous behaviour from North Korea. This latest ballistic missile test comes on from a fourth nuclear test carried out by North Korea in recent times and this is aggravating an already tense situation on the Korean Peninsula. Australia supports the UN Security Council statement and all previous resolutions and I know the Security Council is considering further significant measures. I call on the North Korean regime to focus on the plight of the long-suffering people of North Korea - and not engage in provocative and dangerous testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles - but support the people of North Korea who in some cases are literally starving. The World Food Program has made an extensive effort because of the plight of the North Korean people and that's where the regime's focus should be.
JOURNALIST What are the dangers of these being tested?
JULIE BISHOP Clearly it increases tensions with South Korea and Japan. Clearly if North Korea were to gain a nuclear arsenal of ballistic missiles and weapons that would be a threat to regional and to global security.
JOURNALIST You have spoken to Jocelyn Elliott following her release; how is she doing and what is being done to ensure her husband is also released?
JULIE BISHOP We have been working on this matter for some weeks now, ever since the Elliotts disappeared. Thankfully Mrs Elliott has been released and we continue to work with the governments in the region, particularly the government of Burkina Faso and the government of Niger, to facilitate his release. I remain concerned for Kenneth Elliott's safety and well-being and will continue to work towards ensuring his release.
JOURNALIST What do you make of the Premiers calling on the Government to keep the asylum seekers in Australia as opposed to their deportation to Nauru?
JULIE BISHOP Our Government will discuss these matters with the State Premiers but of course we remain resolute in our policies. We are determined to ensure that the people smuggling trade does not flourish. When Labor weakened our border protection laws the people smuggling trade flourished and twelve hundred men women and children drowned at sea. So we must maintain the policies that work, that have dismantled the people smuggling trade, and have ensured that people will no longer die at sea. Those policies will remain in place. In the meantime we look for regional solutions and I am attending the Bali process meetings to ensure that our region can do what it can to prevent people smuggling from flourishing.
JOURNALIST Is it frustrating to see other leaders not support the Government's stance on people smugglers?
JULIE BISHOP There were 2000 children in detention under the previous Government. We've now got that number down to around 100 and we're working very hard to ensure children are not in detention.
JOURNALIST Minister, is the prospect of an increased GST on the table or off the table?
JULIE BISHOP These are matters for the Cabinet to discuss. We've been having a wide-ranging discussion with the Australian people, with business, with industry, with small business owners, with Members of Parliament about the best tax system for Australia. We are determined to ensure that our tax system is fair, that taxes are lower, that taxes are simpler, that we're internationally competitive, and that we provide incentives for people to work, save and invest. So that's what we're seeking to achieve, and when the Prime Minister and Treasurer have an announcement to make, fine.
JOURNALIST Do you think Members within your own Party, particularly those with quite small margins, have a right to be concerned that there could be significant backlash to any rise in the GST?
JULIE BISHOP Let's deal with facts rather than speculation. When the Cabinet has made its decision in regard to the tax package, in relation to economic reform, we'll announce it.
JOURNALIST Will that sort of speculation play any role, particularly if those backbenchers are coming to the Prime Minister and Treasurer saying they don't want to lose their seat, will that play any role in the decision?
JULIE BISHOP That's why I'm not commenting on speculation, because it's speculation. We are looking at an evidence-based range of options, and we need to ensure that our tax system has lower, fairer, simpler taxes, that it is internationally competitive and that it provides incentives for Australians to work, save and invest. That's what we're seeking to do. We've been having a mature discussion on this, a sophisticated discussion. Meanwhile Mr Shorten has been lingering around grocery aisles and declaring lettuce wars, claiming the Government is raising GST. The Government never said that. We've said that we're looking at all the options available and when we've got an announcement to make, we'll do that prior to the election.