The Project, Channel 10 - interview

  • Transcript, E&OE

CARRIE BICKMORE: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now. Hope you haven't left your talking points in the toilet Julie as you join us now. How long have we known there were Russian spies in Canberra?

JULIE BISHOP: Carrie, that would be me commenting on intelligence matters and I won't do that, but I can assure you that we take the advice of our security and intelligence agencies on this matter.

This is not a decision we took lightly, to expel two Russian diplomats. We are standing in solidarity with the United Kingdom and 23 other countries in expressing our outrage that a Russian military grade nerve agent would be deployed in an attempted assassination on British soil, the first time that a nerve agent has been deployed offensively on European soil since the Second World War.

It's an outrageous breach of international law.

HAMISH MACDONALD: Minister, you don't know with 100% certainty that this was Russia. No-one in the West does. Why then is this the right step? Don't we need to keep talking to the Russians to be able to get to the bottom of it?

JULIE BISHOP: There is a pattern of behaviour on the part of the Russians that is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated. This latest incident is an example of that behaviour.

The United Kingdom government has made a very compelling case that it was a Russian military grade nerve agent that was used in this attempted assassination and Russia was given every opportunity to explain whether they were behind it or how it was that they lost control of an illegal stockpile of chemical weapons.

Russian did not respond. We have to act to inform Russia that this conduct has consequences.

FIFI BOX: Julie, are we expecting a retaliation from Russia over this expulsion?

JULIE BISHOP: Given that when the United Kingdom expelled 23 Russian diplomats, Russia retaliated by expelling 23 British diplomats, we can expect a response from Moscow, but we are anticipating that and so we are making contingency plans.

PETER HELLIAR: Should we boycott the World Cup over this Russian spy saga or should we boycott the World Cup because of our performance against Norway during the week?

JULIE BISHOP: The Government has no plans to boycott the World Cup. We are allowing the Socceroos, obviously, to continue to take part, but it is a very serious issue and Australia must take a stand.

We condemn the use of chemical weapons anywhere any time. In fact, the last time that diplomats were expelled from Australia was in 2012 and two Syrian diplomats were expelled because of the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons in Syria.

We take this issue of the deployment of a chemical weapon for the purposes of an attempted assassination very seriously and if we don't take a stand, then it's sending a message that it wouldn't matter if it happened here. Of course it matters, that's why Australia has acted.

CARRIE BICKMORE: We'll have to leave it there Minister but thanks so much for your time tonight.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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