Interview with Peter Stefanovic - The Weekend Today Show, Nine

  • Transcript, E&OE

PETER STEFANOVIC: Weare joined by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who is up in my hood in Cairns. Goodmorning to you this morning Minister. So, half a billion dollars - seems like apretty big pledge - what does it involve?

JULIE BISHOP: Well Peter, this is the singlelargest ever funding boost for coral reef restoration and the protection of theGreat Barrier Reef. It builds on our Reef 2050 plan which we announced in 2015,and it will be used, this half a billion dollars, will be used to improve waterquality here at the Great Barrier Reef, to tackle the coral-eating crown ofthorns starfish, and to make the Reef more resilient to heat stress. The GreatBarrier Reef is not only a great national asset for Australia - and, as yousay, 64,000 jobs, $6.4 billion into the Australian economy, and two milliontourists visit every year – it is also a global living treasure and it is listedon the World Heritage list. So we are determined to restore, to protect, tomaintain the Reef for generations to come.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Minister,how does the Government balance environmental concerns especially in Queenslandwith a pro-mining jobs focus through the Adani coalmine?

JULIE BISHOP: That's precisely what we do – we balanceenvironmental and economic considerations. That's why we're invested in theGreat Barrier Reef restoration. That's why we're also ensuring any miningproposal must go through our very stringent environmental approval process. In thecase of the Carmichael Mine, they have met all the environmental approvals, andthat's why we are consistent on this issue - we can balance environmental needsand economic needs.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Speakingof budget sweeteners, Labor has this morning announced it will save $30 millionby scrapping the tampon tax. Will the Government do the same?

JULIE BISHOP: Peter, we have already made thatproposal. Labor is just announcing what we already proposed, but the point isthis - any change to the GST must be agreed by each state and territorygovernment, and there is no agreement from the states and territories on thisissue.

PETER STEFANOVIC: TheGovernment isn't being pushed by Labor into this the same way it was pushedinto a banking Royal Commission?

JULIE BISHOP: Not at all. Completely different, applesand oranges. In relation to this matter, the GST must have the approval of eachstate and territory before there can be any change, and the states andterritories do not approve this change.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Oneof the other big issues that is being talked about this morning, Minister, newpowers are being proposed for Australia's cyber spy agency - which means ouremails, and bank records, and text messages, all can be secretly accessed. NewsCorp is reporting that the Departments of Home Affairs and Defence are in the earlystage of planning it. Is this something you support?

JULIE BISHOP: I want to assure you there is noplan for the Australian Government to increase the powers of Australian SignalsDirectorate, so that it can collect intelligence against Australians, or accesscovertly the private data of Australians. There is no plan.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Sothis report is wrong?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't know where the report camefrom, but I certainly know that there is no plan for the Government to increasethe powers of the Australian Signals Directorate in that regard. We alreadyhave laws in place that can cover these issues, plus safeguard Australia'sprivacy.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Doyou believe in any way, is there a national security gap, at all?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe there is. Icertainly have not been made aware of one. We have in place very robustnational security laws. We have provided record funding to our security andintelligence agencies, but there is no plan for the Government to increase thepowers of the Australian Signals Directorate to collect intelligence againstAustralians, or to covertly collect private data, or access private data ofAustralians.

JULIE BISHOP: Minister, earlier this week thePrime Minister announced a $3.2 billion funding package for Western Australia'sroads and public transport. Yesterday a $50 million redevelopment of PortBotany in Sydney. Are we gearing up for an election this year?

JULIE BISHOP: We're gearing up for a budget - that'swhat is coming. On the 8th of May there will be a Budget.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Whatabout beyond the budget?

JULIE BISHOP: There will be an election in 2019,but this is an announcement. Today for example, plus the announcements inWestern Australia, all to protect Australia, to boost our economy, to keep ussafe, to ensure that we are a prosperous nation. That is what our Budget isaimed to do. These are announcements in the lead up to the 2018 Budget, aheadof a 2019 election.

JULIE BISHOP: Okay, just finally, the executivesat AMP are meeting today. It's an emergency meeting. Any suggestions on whatshould happen there?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm not aware of the details of whythey are meeting. Most certainly the Royal Commission has exposed a series ofvery disturbing allegations, and I'm assuming that AMP is seeking to respond insome way publicly. It will need to do so to restore confidence in one of ourmost important institutions.

PETER STEFANOVIC: Doyou believe any more heads should roll?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I will wait to see the outcomesof the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission is under way. It hasn't made anyfindings. It hasn't handed down its recommendations. I think it would be wiseto wait until those recommendations have been provided.

PETER STEFANOVIC: ForeignMinister Julie Bishop joining us this morning from Cairns where $500 million hasbeen pledged as part of this Budget to save the Great Barrier Reef. Minister, thank you for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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