The Project, interview with Waleed Aly, Carrie Bickmore, Tommy Little and Josh Zepps

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: What, if anything, can our Government do to bring home the three Aussies currently sitting in Chinese cells?

JOURNALIST: The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been in contact with the detained Aussie citizens. She joins us now. Minister, do we know at this stage exactly what they were doing in China that landed them in detention?

JULIE BISHOP: We don't have those details at present. Under Chinese law people detained can be subject to an investigation of up to 30 days and even then it can be extended for another seven days before charges are, or are not, laid. So it is early days at this point and what we're doing is focusing on ensuring that we can get our consular officials access to the Australians who have been detained to ensure that they are being treated well, we understand they are, and that their wellbeing is looked after. Yesterday our consular officials were able to visit two of the Australians and we hope that a visit to the third will be arranged shortly.

JOURNALIST: You've spoken with James Packer, have you advised him to steer clear of China for a while?

JULIE BISHOP: I have been in contact with Mr Packer and other representatives of Crown. Our Ambassador in Beijing has also now raised this matter at very senior levels within the Chinese Government.

JOURNALIST: Just to shift gears for a moment Minister, yesterday there were rumours that the Government would water down gun laws and I saw that Tony Abbott was so upset he tweeted about it and gave a doorstop about it, I've seen him quite a lot on the news. What is going on there? Is Tony Abbott jockeying to make a comeback?

JULIE BISHOP: There was never ever a plan by the Turnbull Government to water down the national gun laws introduced by the Howard Government after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. We are absolutely committed to the strongest possible national gun laws and that has not changed. We have, in fact, banned the importation of a particular type of lever action shotgun and are now waiting for the state and territory governments to decide the proper classification of that gun. So, in fact, we are strengthening, not weakening the national gun laws.

JOURNALIST: So is Tony coming back?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, he's the Member for Warringah, he is back. He's the Member for Warringah, we all came backā€¦

JOURNALIST: He might not be quite as back as he wants to be, somehow I feel?

JULIE BISHOP: We all came back after the election and we have taken our seats in the Parliament and are getting on with the job of governing and delivering for all Australians.

JOURNALIST: Minister, Labor MP Ed Husic weighed in on this debate today. Take a listen to what he said.

FOOTAGE OF ED HUSIC: Frankly you would expect better out of Malcolm Turnbull. I don't know who he's going to blame, whether or not he'll duck shovel the blame onto one of his ministers. The PM clearly needing more Mal pals.

JOURNALIST: [Laughter] Now, are you a Mal pal or is Ed being an airhead?

JULIE BISHOP: [Laughter] Ed's being an airhead.

JOURNALIST: That was the polite version, I was going to say dickhead but I was told I wasn't allowed.

JULIE BISHOP: I'm glad you chose the former.


JULIE BISHOP: Look, this is a clear distraction by Labor trying to take away attention from the fact that we have passed through the House of Representatives the Australian Building and Construction Commission law which will bring back onto the building and construction sites across Australia a tough regulator to stop all the intimidation and lawlessness that the CFMEU and other unions are carrying out on our construction sites. They looked for a distraction, they found it in the gun laws. It was completely, completely full of misinformation but it distracted some in the media, not The Project, I'm pleased to say, and we're focusing on ensuring that we can get our ABCC laws through the Senate. That's what this week is all about.

JOURNALIST: Sounds like a Mal pal to me, Minister.

JULIE BISHOP: I am a Mal pal. That's good, I like it.

JOURNALIST: Minister, thank you very much for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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