CARRIEBICKMORE: This is no doubt high on Foreign MinisterJulie Bishop's radar and she joins us now.
Minister,North Korea has now given us a timeline for a missile strike on Gaum, the UShas resorted to blatant threats, I mean, does this mean war?
JULIEBISHOP: No, I believe that North Korea can bedeterred. North Korea has been conducting illegal tests for some time now. Itis in flagrant violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions banningits intercontinental ballistic missile tests and its nuclear weapons program.
What haschanged is that last weekend North Korea ran out of friends because the UNSecurity Council, which includes Russia and China, voted for the mostcomprehensive and toughest set of sanctions against North Korea yet. Andthis shows that the globe is united against North Korea's provocative andillegal actions and this provides a significant deterrent to North Korea and anencouragement for it to change its behaviour.
WALEEDALY: But Minister if that was going todeter them why are we only seeing them escalate the rhetoric?
JULIEBISHOP: That is the way North Korea behaves,we've seen it over many years. They are seeking attention, they want to sitdown and have a dialogue with the United States, but they want to have the mostleverage.What we'reseeking to do - and this is a collective strategy that has been in place forsome time - is to increase the diplomatic and economic leverage over NorthKorea so it will change its behaviour and change its calculations as to therisk involved.
CARRIEBICKMORE: Is Trump's tough talk helping orhindering the situation?
JULIEBISHOP: Secretary Rex Tillerson is in Guamand he summed it up by saying that the President had to send a very toughmessage to Kim Jong-un in language that he would understand and I believe thatthe President has sent that very blunt message.
But in themeantime Secretary of State Tillerson is seeking to ensure there's universalimplementation of the sanctions and all countries are being called upon to usetheir diplomatic and economic engagement with North Korea, such as there issuch engagement, to put maximum pressure on North Korea to change its behaviourand step back from what is blatantly illegal conduct.
RYANFITZGERALD: Julie, should we be worried? IsAustralia under threat?
JULIEBISHOP: Australia is not the primary targetof Pyongyang's focus. They have been threatening South Korea, Japan, theUnited States, for some time but Australia is not the primary threat. Howeverif North Korea does have the ability to establish a nuclear device on anintercontinental ballistic missile that has the capability of hitting theUnited States, well you just have to draw a circumference to see where theycould cause damage.
WALEEDALY: Yeah, well we assume thatcircumference could include Darwin which I suppose is a concern but if war wereto break out, whether or not they intend on hitting Australia, what would ourinvolvement be? What would it look like?
JULIEBISHOP: Waleed, we are seeking to avoid thatat all costs and the US has made it plain that they are ready to talk withNorth Korea. The increased economic pressure, I believe, will help bring NorthKorea to the negotiating table.
We aredoing all we can to avoid such an outcome.
WALEEDALY: Just while I 've got you, on anotherissue, Cassie Sainsbury is now seeking to defend herself in court in Colombiarather than take a deal, is that legal defence that she's now going to mount,is that going to cost Australian taxpayers money?
JULIEBISHOP: She has had a legal team from theoutset. There is provision under the Attorney General's office for Australianswho are in legal proceedings overseas that are very serious criminalproceedings they can apply to have access to a fund to support their legaldefence.
I'm notaware that she's made application to such a fund but there is one available.
She hassought some consular support and we've been providing it, including having ourconsular officers in the court today, but she has her own legal team.
WALEEDALY: So just to be clear, we could pay ifshe applied for us to pay?
JULIEBISHOP: If she were to meet the requirements,there is a fund available for Australians who are facing serious criminalcharges overseas but obviously each case is assessed on its merits and it's adecision for the Attorney General to make.
PETERHELIER: Julie we can't let you go withoutasking about marriage equality, how will you be voting in the postalplebiscite?
JULIEBISHOP: I remember being in at The Projectwhen you got the scoop and you asked me this ages ago and I said I've gotnothing against same sex marriage and then suddenly it was all over the papers.The Project got the scoop. So my viewhasn't changed.I'll beworking hard to get my electorate out to vote. We've changed from the issue ofhow it's going to happen, because Labor have voted down the plebiscite therewon't be a formal yes/no campaign because it's not being conducted by the AECunder the normal plebiscite arrangements – Labor blew that opportunity – so Ithink what members of parliament should be doing is allowing people to have afree vote on this and then the members of parliament should be encouragingpeople to actually vote because it's not compulsory.
So getpeople out to vote, and I'm certainly encouraging them to do that, have theirsay.
PETERHELIER: Will you be encouraging people tovote for same sex marriage as you are?
JULIEBISHOP: No, I'm not going to encourage themone way or the other. The whole point of this is to enable people to have theirsay. It's the people having their say.
Whatmembers of parliament should be doing is now that we've got a postal vote, apostal plebiscite, as opposed to the plebiscite legislation that we put throughthe parliament – tried to put through the parliament – last year and again thisyear - I mean we could have had this plebiscite done and dusted in February ifLabor had supported it. If they really believed in same sex marriage, if theyreally wanted people to have their say, we could've had it done and dusted byFebruary.
But nowthat we have this postal situation I think that Members of Parliament should beencouraging people to get out and vote, but it's up to people to voteaccording to the way they see the issue.
WALEEDALY: Minister, I'm noticing though, on thepart of the senior members of your government, a distinct lack of preparednessto campaign on the yes side.
There arehigh profile people who are campaigning vociferously on the no side, butnothing on the yes side from senior members on the yes side as far as I cantell.
Isn't thata short coming, or an imbalance, particularly if there are people who aresenior members who are supportive but just won't talk up about it?
JULIEBISHOP: No, I disagree. You couldn't getanybody more senior than the Prime Minister and the –
WALEEDALY: But he said he didn't want tocampaign on it, he said –
JULIEBISHOP: No, that's not true, the PrimeMinister said-
WALEEDALY: …said he would vote yes, he said hewould encourage others to do so but not that he would campaign, he wasliterally asked that and he refused to say anything on it.
JULIEBISHOP: The Prime Minister's words carry agreat deal of weight and he said he and Lucy will be voting yes.
You see,we're not having a formal yes or no campaign. That was the opportunity Laborhad when we put the plebiscite legislation before the Senate last year. Now ifthey truly supported same sex marriage they would've supported the quickest wayto get there, and if you believe the supporters of same sex marriage that thecommunity supports it, then we could have had this done in February.
But nowthere is no formal campaign, no 'yes' campaign, no 'no' campaign, so I thinkresponsibility on members of parliament is to encourage people to take part inthe postal vote and have their say.
JOURNALIST: We know you need to leave so I guess we'll have towrap it up. Thanks so much for your time tonight.
JULIEBISHOP: It's my pleasure