Doorstop interview - Samoa

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: I extend our condolences to the people in the Government of Indonesia over this latest earthquake in Aceh. The Australian Embassy is working closely with local authorities and we are yet to determine whether any Australians are affected. I have contacted our Ambassador in Jakarta, and I urge all Australians to abide by the directions of local authorities. If anyone has concerns about family or friends in Aceh they should seek to contact them, otherwise contact the Australian Government's 24 hour consulate helpline on 1300 555 135. We will work closely with Indonesian authorities to ensure that all those who have been affected by this earthquake can receive assistance, and we pass on our deepest sympathies for those who have been killed.

JOURNALIST: Minister, we're here in the Pacific Islands where obviously climate change is a pressing issue. Has that come up in your many discussions with officials while you've been here?

JULIE BISHOP: I have raised the issue of climate change in both the Solomon Islands and in Samoa, because Australia is working in partnership with Pacific Island countries. They were all present in Marrakesh at the recent climate change conference when Australia confirmed that we had ratified the Paris Agreement. A substantial part of our aid program is directed towards climate-resilient infrastructure. For example, today we visited a bridge that Australia is funding, the construction of a bridge that was affected by an extreme weather event in Samoa. So there are a number of examples of Australia committing support to climate-resilience programs in the Pacific.

JOURNALIST: And you'll be aware that it's become a contentious issue back home, particularly with Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi saying we should withdraw from the Paris Agreement. What's your response to that?

JULIE BISHOP: Back in August of 2015 the Australian Government committed to ambitious targets to reduce emissions - a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels. That was reiterated at the Marrakesh conference. That is our commitment, and so the entry into force of the Paris Agreement doesn't affect the targets that we committed to under the Abbott Government.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it's a less than useful contribution at this stage?

JULIE BISHOP: Well over 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement, well over 100 have ratified the agreement, and Australia is on track to meet its targets that were determined back in August of 2015.

JOURNALIST: Would an emissions intensity scheme help?

JULIE BISHOP: That's not the Government's policy and that's not under consideration. We will not introduce policies that increase the already high cost of electricity, unlike the Labor Party that's committed to a carbon tax that will drive up electricity prices. The Coalition wants to ensure that electricity prices are kept as low as possible, while still meeting the targets that we announced in August of 2015.

JOURNALIST: Thank you for your time, Minister.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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