Interview with Sylvia Jeffreys - Today Show
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: ForeignMinister Julie Bishop joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good morning to you.It is a remarkable story, isn't it? How happy were you to wake to this newsthis morning?
JULIEBISHOP: I havebeen in contact with our Embassy in Bangkok overnight and I think like everyonearound the world, I was so relieved that this extraordinary ordeal is over andthat all of the boys and coach Chantawong have been rescued and are now safelyout of the cave. It has been 17 days and there have been many times when theThai authorities and the rescue teams have been physically and emotionallydrained, and concerned about the outcome. We are absolutely delighted that ourrescue team has been able to assist the Thai authorities and the internationalrescue teams to bring about this quite remarkable result.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: The focusright now is on the boys' recovery, as you know. I am wondering if you havereceived any information from your counterparts there on their conditions thismorning?
JULIEBISHOP: We arekeeping a very close eye on this, as you know. Dr Richard Harris, fromAdelaide, has been involved in the health assessments of the boys, but they arenow in hospital, and I am not sure if Dr Harris has had any furtherinvolvement, but we are hoping for a full recovery for all the boys and thecoach, also all the rescue teams who have been through this extraordinary ordeal.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: Youmentioned Dr Richard Harris there, he has emerged certainly as a hero from thisoperation, as well as the other more than a dozen Australians involved in thedive operation. You must be extremely proud of their involvement - I wonder ifyou have made contact with them yet and, if not, when you think you might beable to?
JULIEBISHOP: DrHarris is well known to us, he has worked with the Department of ForeignAffairs and Trade in the past. In fact, he was in Vanuatu in about 2013 as partof the Australian Aid Medical Assistance Team overseas. So he is well known tous. He is also an expert in this kind of cave rescue, so I hope to have anopportunity to speak to him at some point. His dive partner, Craig Challen, isa Vet from Perth and I am hoping to contact Craig at some point as well. We had20 personnel all up - six Australian Federal Police divers, a Navy clearancediver, support from the Defence Department, from the Defence Force, from theAFP and from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. So it has been acollective effort from Australia as part of a much broader international effortthat's been brilliantly coordinated by the Thai authorities. In fact, I amhoping to speak to Thai Foreign Minister Don later this morning to thank himfor the leadership that Thailand has shown in this regard.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: Iunderstand you will be hosting a reception for the Aussies involved when theyreturn home. Are there any plans in place yet?
JULIE BISHOP: We havecertainly spoken about it. I know the Prime Minister is very keen to personallythank the rescue team. This is what Australians do so well - under our aidprogram, we have tragically many opportunities to support neighbours in timesof crisis, and so this is just another example of Australia being a goodfriend, a good neighbour, and helping out when it is needed.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: It hasbeen a wonderful example of the world coming together as one, hasn't it?
JULIEBISHOP: It hasindeed.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: Agreat story to watch unfold and thankfully a very good outcome indeed. In othernews this morning, Minister, the ACCC is releasing its recommendations thismorning on how to overhaul the energy market back home and bring down priceswhich is much needed for customers across the country. Will the Governmentadopt these recommendations?
JULIEBISHOP: We arecertainly committed to affordable and reliable energy, and under a number ofour initiatives energy prices are already coming down. Scott Morrisoncommissioned the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to produce areport on how we can bring prices down further. The Prime Minister has now receivedthe final report from the ACCC and he will be responding during the course ofthe day on that matter, but we are committed to affordable and reliable energy.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: Meantime,overseas, Donald Trump has touched down in Brussels for the NATO Summit. Hefired some pretty, well, nasty shots, perhaps you might say, before he tookoff. He predicts it will be easier to negotiate with Vladimir Putin than histraditional allies. How worried are you, Julie Bishop, about the breakdown ofthe Northern Alliance?
JULIEBISHOP: We aredeeply committed to NATO. Australia is, in fact, an Enhanced Partner of NATO.It has brought peace and stability to the European continent for many years.President Trump is requiring the NATO partners to do more in their own defenceand they are responding. He's looking at an increase in their defence spendingso that the United States doesn't have to bear as much of the burden. It is amessage that he has given to NATO in the past and they have responded. Inrelation to Russia, it is coming up to the fourth anniversary of the downing ofMH17 so Australia is calling on Russia to accept State responsibility for itsrole in the bringing down of a plane that killed 298 passengers and crew. Wealso believe that Russia should be called to account over the presence of anerve agent Novichok in London which has now seen the tragic death of a Britishcitizen. So we believe that Russia has many questions to answer, and I hopePresident Trump takes the opportunity to raise these issues with PresidentPutin.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: IsDonald Trump undermining our relationship with the US by showing so muchsupport for Russia?
JULIEBISHOP: Therelationship between Australia and the United States is strong and enduring. Wehave differences of opinion with a number of countries from time to time. Inthe case of Russia, we believe Russia should be held to account for its badbehaviour.
SYLVIAJEFFREYS: Alright,Julie Bishop there, we appreciate your time, Foreign Minister. Once again, veryhappy to share that great news out of Thailand with you this morning. Thank youvery much.