Doorstop interview - Timor-Leste

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Mr Jose RamosHorta has asked that Australia not pursue the former ASIS agent or Witness Kand his lawyer for exposing the bugging scandal. Will you intervene or drop theprosecution in the interest to relation with Timor-Leste?

JULIE BISHOP: TheAustralian Government accepted that the advice of the Commonwealth Director ofPublic Prosecutions to launch this prosecution. It's now a matter before thecourts. It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment. This is adomestic legal process within Australia.

JOURNALIST: Could I ask, juston that, Foreign Minister, could I even ask how it could be deemed a nationalsecurity commercial negotiation over natural gas?

JULIE BISHOP: Idon't discuss our security matters or intelligence matters. This is a domesticlegal process. It's currently before the courts and so it would beinappropriate for me to run a commentary on it.

JOURNALIST: Is nationalsecurity enhanced by going after this man, what is the justification?

JULIE BISHOP: TheAustralian Government accepted the advice of the Commonwealth Director ofPublic Prosecutions to launch a prosecution. The matter is now before thecourts and I don't intend to make any further comment at risk of compromisingthe legal processes that are taking place within Australia.

JOURNALIST: Can Australia still be globally competitiveif the Government dumps company tax cuts?

JULIE BISHOP: TheAustralian Government is determined to continue to seek corporate tax cuts sothat our businesses can be internationally competitive. Without a competitivetax rate we are not competitive on the world stage, and nine out of ten workingAustralians are in the private sector. Therefore, the tax relief will benefitjobs growth and economic growth, and as we are in a global marketplace, it isessential for Australian companies to be facing a competitive tax rate.

JOURNALIST: Australia, Japanand US are teaming up in a regional infrastructure scheme that sounds a littlelike China's Belt and Road Initiative. How much is Australia put into this andmore importantly where will that money come from?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia,the United States and Japan are all significant investors in the Indo-Pacificregion. We have decided to form a trilateral partnership so that we canincrease our investment into infrastructure, building connectivity, drivingeconomic growth and meeting development challenges in the Indo-Pacific. Thisnew infrastructure funding initiative built on an agreement that the PrimeMinister signed in Washington in February this year. I've said on manyoccasions that no one country alone can meet all of the infrastructure needs inthe Indo-Pacific and so I'm very excited by the prospect of Australia, theUnited States and Japan pooling our resources so that we can drive economic growthin the Indo-Pacific. Funding will be through an arrangement with the Departmentof Foreign Affairs and Trade. The United States has an Overseas PrivateInvestment Corporation and in Japan it will be the Japanese Bank for InternationalCooperation. We're looking to invest in projects in technology, in agriculture,in telecommunications, driving economic growth for the people of theIndo-Pacific.

JOURNALIST: How much of afactor is China's Belt Road Initiative?

JULIE BISHOP: Wewelcome investment from other countries into the Indo-Pacific. No one countrycan meet all of the investment needs, and I've said on many occasions that wewelcome investment in the Pacific that adheres to global standards oftransparency, accountability, engaging local workforces and ensuring thatunsustainable debt isn't imposed on the recipient nations.

JOURNALIST: Is that directedat China, those sentiments?

JULIE BISHOP: Theseare the standards that Australia, the United States and Japan will adhere to.We want to see the highest levels of accountability, transparency, goodgovernance, using and utilising the local workforces which is very important tocountries in the Indo-Pacific and ensuring that none of our investments lead tounsustainable debt burdens on the recipient countries.

JOURNALIST: Which countries willbe the priorities to target?

JULIE BISHOP: Well,clearly this will be a competitive process. There are greater needs than therewill be funds available, but what we will do is focus on those investments thatwill make the biggest difference to economic growth and driving peace,stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. That's our aim.

JOURNALIST: Just wondering,your thoughts on George Christensen going to Japan to try and expandAustralia's coal industry. Did you know he was going?

JULIE BISHOP: No,I've not being consulted on this matter but I understand it's a delegationarranged by the Minerals Council of Australia and it's not unusual forparliamentarians to go on delegations that are supported by entities such as theMinerals Council of Australia.

JOURNALIST: Would you wantJapan to build more coal mines in Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: Well,clearly overseas investments are a matter for the Japanese Government and theJapanese private sector. It would have to be a business case; it wouldobviously have to be economically viable. We welcome Japanese investment intoAustralia. In fact, the INPEX LNG Project is one of Japan's largest overseasinvestments. So we welcome Japanese investment into our energy and resourcesmarket.

JOURNALIST: Are we entering arace with China that our alliance can't win because we have already beenbeaten?

JULIE BISHOP: Idon't know to what you're referring in that question, I'm not in a race againstanybody. The Australian Government works with many other governments to ensurepeace, stability and prosperity in our region. And that's what our newtrilateral infrastructure partnership with the United States and Japan isdesigned to do; increase peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacificregion.

JOURNALIST: What do you thinkof the findings of the report into the disappearance of MH370 that wasdelivered yesterday?

JULIE BISHOP: Iam aware that the Malaysian Government has released a report into thedisappearance of MH370 after four years of intense investigation and twoextensive searches. Tragically the plane has not been located, so anydefinitive conclusions can't be made. I feel for the families of the peopleaboard MH370. Clearly this does not provide the answers that they are lookingfor. The Australian Government stands ready to support the Malaysian Governmentin any further efforts to resolve the mystery surrounding MH370. It's a matterthat I will raise with my Malaysian counterpart when I meet with him later thisweek.

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