Interview with Peter Stefanovic - Today, Channel Nine

  • Transcript, E&OE

PETER STEFANOVIC: Joining us live this morning Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Good talk morning to you Minister. We can talk tough but reality is Vladimir Putin isn't going to accept responsibility. He's not going to give up any individuals. So what do you realistically hope to get out of holding Russia accountable?

JULIE BISHOP: The findings in the recent days of the Joint Investigation Team including Australia are significant. For the first time we have been able to state that Russia played a role in the bringing down of Malaysian Airlines MH-17, killing 298 people, including 38 to Australians. By calling on Russia, to accept responsibility for its role, we are able to request dialogue with Russia so that it will acknowledge its responsibility. We will seek compensation, reparations, on behalf of the victims, their families. This is an important step. There is also a National Prosecution in the Netherlands which will also seek to hold the perpetrators to account. We should also remember that Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the Security Council passed a unanimous resolution, meaning Russia supported a resolution, calling on all parties to fully co-operate with efforts to establish accountability. That is what we are doing. That is why Russia must acknowledge its role in this.

PETER STEFANOVIC: But do you think that can really be achieved? Up until this point the Russian regime hasn't really wanted anything to do with this?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, Russia has been conducting a campaign of misinformation. It has been seeking to discredit the legitimacy of the Joint Investigation Team. This is an investigation that was set up pursuant to the UN Security Council resolution of which Russia was a part, and we believe that the evidence is convincing, that the Buk missile that brought down a passenger jet killing all on board was a weapon, a very sophisticated weapon, owned by the Russian Army. It was brought in to eastern Ukraine, it was used to bring down this plane and then it was immediately taken back into Russia. The evidence is convincing and we can only conclude that Russia played a role in the bringing down of this plane. The international community needs to let Russia know that its conduct was unacceptable.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Have you heard from them yet since in yesterday?

JULIE BISHOP: We have notified Russia in Moscow, in The Hague and in Canberra and my Foreign Minister counterpart Stef Blok from the Netherlands has spoken directly to Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia.

PETER STEFANOVIC: And what has he said?

JULIE BISHOP: He said that he would look at the papers, he didn't make any other commitment. But this is just the beginning of our journey in seeking negotiations, seeking a dialogue with Russia about how we will handle this matter. We will be looking for an acknowledgment from Russia of its role. We will be looking to Russia to accept responsibility and we will be looking for compensation for the families.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Minister, Australia of course is playing in the World Cup, the football World Cup, in Russia starting next month. Does that complicate things?

JULIE BISHOP: The Government won't seek to interfere in decisions of the Football Federation of Australia. What we are seeking to do is pursue accountability for the bringing down of Malaysian Airlines MH-17. So my focus will be on ensuring that we can commence dialogue with Russia so that we can talk about its role in the bringing down of the plane, and seeking compensation for the families.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Minister, this week Australian grandmother Maria Exposto was sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug smuggling. You have been here before. At this point, is there anything you can do be to stop this going ahead?

JULIE BISHOP: We will be continuing to provide support to her, consular support, as we have been doing throughout her proceedings. She does have a legal team representing her and we understand that she will be seeking to appeal. So, at this stage, given that legal proceedings are still on foot, we can only provide consular support which we will continue to do.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Okay, Minister, closer to home we now have a July 28 date for the Super Saturday by-elections. Does the Liberal Party smell blood?

JULIE BISHOP: We will certainly be contesting a number of seats that have been brought about because of Labor Party's failure to declare the ineligibility of a number of members. Bill Shorten could have had these by-elections last year, however, he misled the Australian people by saying that none of his members had citizenship issues, well-knowing that at least three of them did. So the Liberal Party will be contesting a number of these by-elections. It is obviously very inconvenient for people but at least they are all on the same day, so across Australia we can get a result.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Is there a temptation to hold the election early so that Labor Party can't hold its conference?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe that a national election should be decided by virtue of when Labor decides to have its conference. We expect to have our federal election in 2019. That is when it is scheduled to be, before May 2019.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Just finally, Minister, the meeting between the US and North Korea, it was on, it is off, now maybe it is on again. What are you hearing?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I would be disappointed if the summit didn't go ahead. I know that the United States left open the possibility of North Korea coming back to the negotiating table. Obviously we want to see negotiations under way. We want to see North Korea denuclearise. We want to see lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. In the meantime we will continue to exert maximum diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea because this effort by the international community is what has brought North Korea to the table in the first place. So, we hope that the summit will go ahead.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, great to have you on our show this morning. Thank you.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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