The Project - Interview with Waleed Aly, Carrie Bickmore, Gretel Killeen and Tommy Little

  • Transcript, E&OE
23 November 2016

JOURNALIST: Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is in Canberra, and she joins us now. Minister, so yet to be confirmed, we are being told that the powder is not an illegal drug. Do you know whether Jamie will be home shortly? Or are there still charges that he could possibly face?

JULIE BISHOP: I am aware of the reports, and there has not yet been official confirmation, but if the powder is found not to be a narcotic substance, then I hope that the young man will be released immediately. We have been providing consular support – indeed our consular officials visited Jamie today – and we've been in contact with his family. So I hope that this circumstance can be resolved favourably and very quickly. But it is a timely reminder that when we leave Australia and go to another country, we are subject to the laws and the processes of that country. And so, particularly for those who are going overseas for Schoolies Week, I do remind them that it's not Australian laws and customs that apply, but the laws and customs and processes of the country that you're visiting.

JOURNALIST: And yet, Julie, the message is still not getting through to Aussie kids. Is there anything the Government is planning on doing to educate more firmly or is this something kids have to find out for themselves?

JULIE BISHOP: Of course we are constantly reminding people of the risks of travelling overseas. We have a government website that's pretty well accessed, the Smartraveller website. I am constantly reminding people to take out travel insurance, to familiarise yourself with the laws of the country. In the case of Indonesia, where so many young Australians do go – particularly to Bali, and here we are in Schoolies Week – there are significant risks. My message is, of course: do not buy anything on the street, do not take risks, do not take drugs and certainly don't try and take them into the country. What might seem to be acceptable behaviour in Australia may well not be in another country, indeed it could be illegal, and so, in the case of Bali and Indonesia, we are aware that they have a very, very hefty regime when it comes to drugs. But in the case of this young man, I hope that he can be released as soon as possible and home with his family. It must be a very traumatic experience.

JOURNALIST: Fair to say all that's pretty good advice, I would have thought! Just while we have you here, before we let you go, our first chance to speak to a member of the Government this week. I want to ask you whether or not you think Peter Dutton was wrong to say that Malcolm Fraser should not have let Lebanese Muslims into Australia in the 1970s?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, that's not what he said. He was talking about the situation, years ago, where we didn't provide the kind of support and services to people coming into Australia that we do today, and that can have consequences. The point is that today we provide significant resources, support services to help people integrate, particularly those who have come on refugee and humanitarian visas who may have come from very traumatic backgrounds. We ensure that they have the support so that they can become contributing members to society. I think that's a very valid point.

JOURNALIST: Right. So you would say that absolutely there is no suggestion from anyone in the Government in support of a discriminatory immigration policy?

JULIE BISHOP: Absolutely not. We have a non-discriminatory immigration system. Peter Dutton and the Government have also pointed out, time and time again, how valuable the contribution that immigrants are, how valuable their contributions are to Australia. We are one of the most successful multicultural nations on earth and that's because we welcome people from all corners of the globe. But we also want them to become contributing members of our society. I think that's one of Australia's great strengths.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop, thanks very much for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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