Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: As the 12 month anniversary approaches of the tragic loss of 298 passengers and crew aboard Malaysian Airlines MH17, the next step is for the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal to try those who were responsible for this atrocity. The five countries that currently make up the Joint Investigation Taskforce – Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Ukraine – have asked the United Nations Security Council to support the setting up of such a tribunal and to establish it under the appropriate Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Australia, along with the other countries of the Joint Investigation Taskforce, has called for the establishment of this international criminal tribunal. The final report of the investigation is due to be released later this year. It is entirely appropriate and in accordance with past practice for the criminal tribunal to be set up in advance of the final report of the investigation so that the tribunal can be sent the report immediately and begin its work.

JOURNALIST: What are you expecting to come out of that tribunal? Are you looking for anything beyond just the report? Do we need to see people brought to justice individually?

JULIE BISHOP: The resolution passed on the 21st of July last year, just four days after the downing of MH17, was unanimous. It called for those responsible for the downing of MH17 to be held to account. That was a unanimous resolution. So the next step in implementing that resolution, 2166, is the establishment of the tribunal. And we believe that as we near the 12 month anniversary, as the draft report has been finalised, we believe the final report will be released in a few months, it's appropriate for us to establish that tribunal now. We'll be looking for the tribunal to have all necessary authority to pursue and investigate and prosecute those responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17.

JOURNALIST: Has the Australian Government been given a record of that draft Dutch report and does it in a way lay the blame on any particular individual or country?

JULIE BISHOP: Our relevant aviation authority has been provided with a draft copy of the report and has provided input. However, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade nor any other government department, isn't able to access that report. That is the requirement under international law. Only the authorities that are working with the Dutch Safety Board who are carrying out the investigation have access to the report at this stage.

JOURNALIST: To try or prosecute someone you have to have an identity, a name and know who they are.


JOURNALIST: Do you expect that to come out?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't want to pre-empt the report but clearly you have to have in place a tribunal so that the report can be sent to the tribunal. We're very keen to take the politics out of this and so it's appropriate for the tribunal to be set up in advance of the final draft of the report being made public, so that it's not in response to the report's findings. But we're setting it up in accordance with former examples, precedent, in this regard.

JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, what do you think of John Hewson's comments on Q&A that Australia is partly to blame for the rise of ISIS because of its involvement in the Iraq War?

JULIE BISHOP: Well this might come as a surprise but I didn't watch Q&A last night and I didn't see John Hewson's remarks. I wouldn't want to take them out of context. But I can most certainly say that ISIS emerged from Al-Qaeda, which has been in existence for some time now. It is a virulent, barbaric terrorist organisation that has no regard for governments, sovereignty, borders, civilisations. It has declared war on people of all religions, all ethnic backgrounds. In fact it has declared war on most countries in the region and including countries far away. The Australian Government will do all we can to stop young Australians taking up the fight on behalf of Daesh or Islamic State or ISIL, whatever it wants to call itself. Not only are they putting their own lives in mortal danger, but they're adding to the suffering and misery of the people of Syria and Iraq.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with Malcolm Turnbull that we have to be careful not to overstate that threat from ISIS?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe the Government has overstated it. I believe the Government's response and the Government's actions are entirely appropriate, reasonable and proportionatein these circumstances.

JOURNALIST: How concerned are you for Australian woman Jodi Magi who's been jailed in Abu Dhabi over a Facebook post? And what is the Australian Government doing to help her?

JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government has provided her with consular support ever since she was charged with cybercrimes under UAE law. I understand that she was required to pay a fine and that she was taken into detention pending deportation. I'm expecting her to be deported in a very short time. Australian consular officials are providing her and her husband whatever support we can.

JOURNALIST: Are you making any representations to Indonesia in regards to the cattle trade?

JULIE BISHOP: This is a trade issue, we are negotiating with Indonesia in relation to it. I am assured by Indonesian authorities that this is a trade matter, it's a negotiation and we're continuing to do that.

JOURNALIST: It's not political.

JULIE BISHOP: That's right.

JOURNALIST: Minister, several Russian scientists say they've been blocked from attending a symposium on the Gold Coast. Their visa applications weren't accepted. Can you guarantee that's not a political tit-for-tat with Moscow?

JULIE BISHOP: Absolutely not. We have a universal visa system and a number of Russian scientists applied for visas, were granted visas, are in Australia, are currently participating in this conference on the Gold Coast. I understand it came down to a question of timing and the administration around the processing of visas.

JOURNALIST: Just back on the cattle issue, are you going to reach out to your counterpart about this cut?

JULIE BISHOP: We are in constant communication and I'm assured that it's a trade negotiation. It's not in relation to the overall Australia-Indonesia relationship, which is very strong and very good. As I've said on a number of occasions, I'm in constant communication with Retno Marsudi and we continue to be so.

JOURNALIST: You were told specifically, "Don't worry, the relationship is OK, this is simply trade"?

JULIE BISHOP: This is a trade negotiation and that's been made clear to me on a number of occasions.

JOURNALIST: Are you hopeful or confident that numbers will increase in the next quarter?

JULIE BISHOP: We are certainly working towards that. I was devastated some years ago when the Labor Government banned live cattle into Indonesia. It did really damage the relationship; it really did damage the trade. We've worked very hard to restore the trade but we know that this is a trade negotiation and we'll continue to do all we can to restore it.

JOURNALIST: Minister Bishop, why aren't you or Steve Ciobo at the UN Financing for Development Conference in Ethiopia. Is it because the Government is too embarrassed to show its face there because of the foreign aid cuts?

JULIE BISHOP: There are a number of governments who are represented by an appropriate official and Australia is represented by our most senior official responsible for aid matters. That's Ewen McDonald, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

JOURNALIST: Minister, were you given any reason about the cut – such a big cut to 50,000 – was there any reason given at all?

JULIE BISHOP: I'll leave these matters for the Agriculture Minister and the Trade Minister to discuss. As Foreign Minister, I've had reassurances from my counterparts and it's a trade matter negotiation that will continue.

JOURNALIST: Will you be continuing to abide by the ban on Q&A, on Ministers appearing on Q&A?

JULIE BISHOP: I haven't been asked to appear on Q&A since May and so there are no outstanding requests for me to appear on Q&A.

JOURNALIST: Just in regard to Russian Embassy, the visa issue. The Embassy here has; the Ambassador has described it as an unfriendly act. How do you respond to that?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I reject that. Australia has a universal visa system. It takes time to process a visa and do all the appropriate checks. Those visas that were presented to us have been processed, as I said, a number of Russian citizens are in Australia participating in the conference. It came down to an administrative processing matter and the timing of it. Anybody who's applied for a visa in countries which require a visa would know you have to do it in a timely way.

JOURNALIST: On Jodi Magi, are you familiar with the nature of her offence?

JULIE BISHOP: Yes I am, I'm aware of the details.

JOURNALIST: It's been said that it's just a photograph of a car across two parking spaces. Is that the nature of it? Is that the extent of it? Was there anything else particularly offensive about it?

JULIE BISHOP: I won't go into the specific details of it. I am aware of the nature of it. I've been briefed on it. I understand that it was considered to be a breach of UAE laws. As I point out on our Smartraveller advice, when you go to another country you are subject to the laws of that country; whether or not they are laws that would apply in Australia they are laws of that country and to be mindful of that. In this instance I understand that she was found guilty of this particular cybercrime, as it was described in the UAE, and that she was required to pay a fine, required by the court, and that as a result of paying the fine she's being deported to Australia. This has happened in the past, and she's been detained pending deportation, which I also understand has happened in the past.

JOURNALIST: Did she use offensive words or was it just a photograph?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm not going into the detail of it. I don't think it would be appropriate while she's in detention pending deportation.

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