Interview with Basil Zempilas and Monique Wright - Weekend Sunrise

  • Transcript, E&OE

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Joiningus is now live is Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is in Cairns. Goodmorning, Minister. The Marine Conservation Society says that during the lasttwo summers half of the shallow water corals in the Reef died from overheating,caused by the rising temperatures and partly the result of mines like Adani.It says that is a makes no sense to spend hundreds of millions of dollars tosave the Reef while backing the mine. How do you respond to that?

JULIE BISHOP: That is not correct. The Turnbull Government is announcing today thesingle largest ever funding boost for coral reef restoration and to protect theGreat Barrier Reef. This investment of $500 million, or half a billion dollars,will be used to improve water quality, tackle the coral-eating crown of thornsstarfish, and to make the coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, more resistant toheat stress. This is a World Heritage site. It is one of the great livingwonders of the world, and Australia is the custodian of the Great Barrier Reef.So, we are determined to make sure it's environmental and economic value ismaintained. This is an approach that all Australians can be involved with, notjust governments, but also the private sector can support philanthropically therestoration of the Reef. Each sector of the economy can play its part inensuring that this great natural wonder is sustainable, and is resilient, andprotected for generations to come.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Okay,Minister, the Marine Conservation Society, I will come back to the pressrelease that they have put out in response to this announcement by yourGovernment - it says that you will need to spend another $500 million in thenext budget because you aren't addressing climate change enough, and climatechange is the greatest risk to the Great Barrier Reef.

JULIE BISHOP: This is precisely what our package is doing. This is $500 million, halfa billion dollars, on top of the $2 billion that we have already announced aspart of the Reef 2050 Plan. That plan, a partnership between the Australian Governmentand the Queensland Government, has been approved by the World HeritageCommittee. They've spoken favourably of what we seeking to do over 35 years,between 2015 and 2050 to maintain, preserve, protect this great living wonder –the Great Barrier Reef. Australia is a world leader in best practice managementof our coral reefs, but we need more funding to ensure we tackle the issuesthat are caused by climate change. Coral reefs are in fact an indicator ofclimate change.

BASIL ZEMPILAS: Haveyou drag your feet on this? Has the Government dragged its feet? Should it havebeen done a lot sooner?

JULIE BISHOP: Not at all. In 2015, the Government announced a $2 billion package withthe Government of Queensland, the Reef 2050 Plan. That is building on previouswork, but that is a plan that the World Heritage Committee says addresses theissues of concern. What we are announcing today is the single largest everfunding boost for these three specific areas of improving water quality, tacklingthe coral-eating crown of thorns starfish, and ensuring that the Reef is moreresilient to heat stress. We saw the global heat stress issue arise in 2016,2017.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Butshould we not be doing more about that heat stress? Doing more about climatechange? Looking to countries like China that are setting far more ambitioustargets, and beating us, and moving away from coal completely?

JULIE BISHOP: No, Australia's targets under the Paris Agreement are amongst the mostambitious in developed economies, in G20 economies. What we're seeking to dounder our Paris Agreements is halve emissions per capita, and that is one ofthe most ambitious of any comparable economy. So this is not the only thingwe're doing to tackle climate change. The Australian Government has a whole-of-governmentapproach. This is one announcement. The point is it is the single largest everfunding boost for coral reef restoration and for the protection of the GreatBarrier Reef - ever.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Justbefore we move on to another topic, Australia's emissions target is 26-28 percent reduction on 2005 levels, that is by 2030. China is cutting its 2005levels by 40-45 per cent and it has already met that last year. Surely, wecould be doing more?

JULIE BISHOP: You take into account the baseline. Australia had already cut itsemissions. We had already met our Kyoto Agreement targets. We are on track tomeet our Paris Agreement targets. It means the halving of emissions per capita,and take into account that Australia is responsible for around 1 per cent ofglobal emissions. China is a far larger emitter of greenhouse gas emissions ona total basis. You are comparing apples with oranges.

BASIL ZEMPILAS: We willmove on, Minister, to plans leaked in News Corp papers this morning to givecyber spies the power to hack Aussies. There is no official proposal as yet,but could you seriously, could the Government seriously consider allowing spiesto target onshore threats?

JULIE BISHOP: There is no plan for the Government to increase the powers of the AustralianSignals Directorate to collect intelligence against Australians, or to covertlyaccess private data.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Okay,and no plans of doing that ahead of time? News Corp is saying that it has seenletters discussing this.

JULIE BISHOP: There has been no request to the Minister for Defence, and there are noplans for the Australian Government to increase the powers of the AustralianSignals Directorate to covertly collect data on Australians or to indeedcollect intelligence. We already have laws in place that safeguard Australiansin this regard.

BASIL ZEMPILAS: Alright,we will all be very happy to hear that. Over the last few days, we have seenvery positive developments in relations between North and South Korea - acommitment to denuclearize the Peninsula. The Prime Minister has said that DonaldTrump deserves some of the credit for the historic talks. Do you think the US Presidentshould be getting some credit this morning, Foreign Minister?

JULIE BISHOP: Yes, I said that yesterday in a doorstop I did in Melbourne. PresidentTrump has changed the narrative. He changed the status quo. He moved away fromthe "strategic patience strategy', which had in fact enabled North Korea tocontinue to develop its illegal weapons and nuclear weapons programs. PresidentTrump certainly deserves credit, along with South Korean President Moon, andthe international community, including Australia that has imposed maximum economic,diplomatic, and political pressure on North Korea to bring it to the negotiatingtable, and indeed the threat of military action has also brought North Korea tothe negotiating table.

MONIQUE WRIGHT: Alright,Minister Julie Bishop, thank you so much, in Cairns. We appreciate your timethis morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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