Interview with David Koch, Sunrise

  • Transcript, E&OE

DAVID KOCH: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is with us. Foreign Minister, thanks for joining us. Just bring us up to date. Who is involved here? We understand an Australian doctor who went in to check the boys was key to the decision to start bringing them out.

JULIE BISHOP: Well, good morning Kochie, and it's remarkable news and wonderful news that four of the young boys have been evacuated. There are 19 Australians involved directly in the rescue operation. We have six Australian Federal Police divers. They were part of the daisy-chain of rescuers, if you will, along the path to the opening of the caves. We have a number of Defence Force personnel there, particularly some Navy Clearance Divers and support crew, and then as you mentioned an Australian doctor from South Australia, an anaesthetist with diving experience, was involved in the assessment to determine that the boys could leave the cave. And I understand they selected the healthiest and fittest boys first, because it's a very precarious journey, and they were able to extract the four boys, which is wonderful news and our thoughts are not only with the boys and their families but also with the rescuers who are involved. So all up there are 19 Australians on the ground, but of course we have people in our embassy in Bangkok and back here in Canberra, the DFAT Crisis Response Team. So the Australian Federal Police, Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are all involved.

DAVID KOCH: Foreign Minister, we do have word four are out completely, two are part way out, sort of half way along in cave three, which apparently is where our Australian divers are set up. Has that been confirmed to you?

JULIE BISHOP: Not confirmed. I understand that that is being reported. But the process is underway. They're being brought out in groups, either four or two at a time, but it is going to take hours and the fact that the first rescue took many hours shows how difficult and treacherous the conditions are. But as soon as it's okay for them to go they will leave, and our divers are part way along that daisy-chain of rescuers.

DAVID KOCH: Is it not wonderful, the international response? It's been absolutely incredible. It sort of warms your heart, doesn't it, that so many countries have offered assistance and come together?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, this is what Australia does. In our region we have many natural disasters, cyclones and floods, and Australia is ready to support our neighbours and our friends. In the case of Thailand we have a very close working relationship with the Thai Government. Our defence ties are very close and our federal police ties are close. So when this rescue became apparent, Australia was one of the first to say of course we'll help and the Thai Government accepted our offers of support. Our Federal Police have been there for over a week now and we have 19 people on the ground, but we're part of an international response group. Divers and experts from other countries are working together. There's very close cooperation and collaboration under the guidance of the Thai Navy and ultimately the Thai Government. But it is a wonderful example of the international community coming together to support each other.

DAVID KOCH: It is just terrific. Not over yet. A lot more work to go, but we've kicked it off on the right foot. Julie Bishop, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Kochie.

- Ends -

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