Interview with Kieran Gilbert - Sky News AM Agenda

  • Transcript, E&OE

KIERAN GILBERT: Returning to our top story now, the Thai rescue. With me, the ForeignMinister Julie Bishop. An amazing feat of human endeavour, isn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: An extraordinary ordeal and it is now over- 17 days since the boys weretrapped in the cave and now each one of them and the coach has been rescuedsafely. It's been a remarkable international effort, coordinated brilliantly bythe Thai authorities, particularly the Thai Royal Navy SEALs, and then expertsfrom all over the world, including 20 personnel from Australia and our six AFPdivers and the Navy clearance divers.

KIERAN GILBERT: What about Dr Harris from Adelaide? Extraordinary. His set of skills,just perfect for this rescue scenario.

JULIE BISHOP: Indeed. He's a renowned expert in cave rescue. He's well known to us inthe Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade because he's part of our AustralianMedical Assistance Team that is sent into the Pacific to respond to naturaldisasters. He worked under the aid program in Vanuatu in Port Vila Hospital fora number of years. So he is known to us and he does have a remarkable set ofskills. The British diving team identified him as someone who they needed aspart of this rescue team and he was requested at the highest levels of the ThaiGovernment.

KIERAN GILBERT: Amazing they got them out.

JULIE BISHOP: He's proven to be a remarkable asset, and his dive partner, CraigChallen, is a vet from Perth, and between the two of them they worked very hardto ensure this outcome.

KIERAN GILBERT: Yeah, nice to have some happy news to report. Let's turn our attentionto the big picture and Donald Trump's heading to Europe and then to Russia. Youcan see why the Europeans are nervous because he has a crack at them for notspending enough on defence and then talks about how he's optimistic aboutPutin.

JULIE BISHOP: The message to NATO has been consistent from the Trump Administrationand that is that they must contribute more to the defence of Europe, their owndefence, and it is a message they have been responding to. In relation toRussia, I am very much of the view that Russia should not be rewarded for itsbad behaviour. Russia have questions to answer over MH17. We are coming up tothe fourth anniversary. Russia must take State responsibility for the downingof a plane that killed 298 passengers and crew, including 38 Australians. Thepresence of this nerve agent, Novichok, in Britain - this is a Russianmanufactured military grade nerve agent. A person has now died as a result ofcoming into contact with it. Russia must account for its stockpiles.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr Trump seems to like strong authoritarian leaders. It seems to be hismessage.

JULIE BISHOP: He clearly practices diplomacy on a one-to-one level. He develops arapport with a particular leader, and if that leads to positive outcomes, wellthat is a very effective form of diplomacy.

KIERAN GILBERT: One area where there's quite a bit of volatility at the moment is theUK. How do you manage that as a Foreign Minister? Boris gone, Jeremy Hunt inand plus Theresa May's leadership precarious.

JULIE BISHOP: Jeremy Hunt has been announced as the Foreign Secretary - I assume thatthere'll be a process before he's actually appointed - but I am looking forwardto meeting him and speaking with him as soon as possible. We obviously have avery deep and close relationship with the United Kingdom and that willcontinue. I will miss Boris. I got along very well with him. He's a good mateand he's a wonderful friend of Australia, but I'm sure that Jeremy Hunt will besomebody with whom we'll be able to have a very effective relationship and workclosely with him. Of course, the whole Brexit issue is still very complex. It'svery complicated and I think it will take some time.

KIERAN GILBERT: You mightn't have to miss Boris for long. He might be taking another jobsoon, but anyway let us just wrap up with President Xi Jinping – he has invitedPacific leaders to PNG before the APEC Summit. Is this another attempt by Chinato assert themselves in the Pacific?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I understand that President Xi Jinping would be undertaking aguest of government visit to Port Moresby prior to APEC - that is not unusualto have the leaders who are attending an event like this actually have abilateral meeting to start off with. Inviting the Pacific leaders is a sensiblething to do. I think that China's presence in the Pacific must be seen in apositive light and I think the more engagement that we and other countries canhave with China over their involvement in the Pacific, the better outcomeswe'll see.

KIERAN GILBERT: Minister, as always, appreciate your time.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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