The Project, Melbourne - interview with Carrie Bickmore, Peter Helliar, Steve Price and Hamish MacDonald

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: We're joined now by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. Welcome!

JULIE BISHOP: Good to be with you.

JOURNALIST: Can you just help us understand what the purpose of these new laws are? If you're in the process of negotiating with third party countries to resettle refugees, is this then about ensuring once they become citizens there, they can never then get a visa as a tourist or as a businessperson to come to Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: It's vital that we send a very powerful message to the criminal people smuggling syndicates that they cannot market an illegal pathway to Australia. And prior to coming into Government, under the Labor Government, 50,000 people paid people smugglers to come to Australia. 1200 people that we know of died at sea. We have to…

JOURNALIST: Sure but this message only becomes relevant if there's a third party country that's taking them, right?

JULIE BISHOP: There already are countries, in PNG and Nauru, are already taking those who are found to be genuine refugees. Those who are found not to be able to have protection, they have no right to protection, should go back to their homes, and that's what we're seeking to do, to send people home. If they don't want to stay in PNG or Nauru, then we're looking at third country options. But the message is to the people smugglers, you will not be able to ply your trade into Australia.

JOURNALIST: It's a penalty?

JULIE BISHOP: It is to prevent deaths at sea, it is to prevent these criminal networks in human trafficking. That's what it amounts to...

JOURNALIST: I think people are puzzled as to why now? I think that's what Hamish is… why do you need to, it's already strong? You've stopped the boats. You've done a fantastic job in preventing people dying at sea. Why do you need to make it harder now?

JULIE BISHOP: Well Steve, this is the last piece of the work that we have to do. We have closed 17 detention centres, we have removed all 2000 children that were in detention out of detention. We have stopped the boats coming – it is 800 days since there was a successful people smuggling venture. And now we are resettling people in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, but those who won't stay there have to be resettled elsewhere, not Australia, because that would restart the criminal syndicates. So we're now in the process of talking to other countries about resettling people in those countries.

JOURNALIST: And between us, ignore the cameras, when will you put pen to paper with that third country? [Laughter]

JULIE BISHOP: We're in the process of negotiating with a number of countries and…

JOURNALIST: New Zealand?

JULIE BISHOP: New Zealand has an offer already and New Zealand has said that they would take 150 people, but that offer would not act as a disincentive to the people smugglers because of the open borders, relatively speaking, between Australia and New Zealand. So we are discussing with other countries resettlement options. Now in Australia we take 18,750 humanitarian and refugee visas. We're now taking an additional 12,000 from Syria and Iraq. So Australia is a very generous country in terms of humanitarian resettlement, but we're not going to do it by subcontracting out our immigration procedures and our visa applications to criminal syndicates.

JOURNALIST: Well Pauline Hanson is a big fan, this is what she had to say about it this morning.

FOOTAGE OF PAULINE HANSON: Refugees are not welcome here. I have too many people come through my office and who talk to me on the streets; they're fed up of refugees getting housing, healthcare, Legal Aid. They get furniture, they get cars, they get you know looked after very, very well.

JOURNALIST: How do you feel when you hear her say that?

JULIE BISHOP: Well I don't agree with her because Australia does offer humanitarian and refugee visas – 18,750; 12,000 for those in Syria – and we are probably the third largest per capita in terms of taking people who are found to be genuine refugees…

JOURNALIST: If you hear what Bill had to say this afternoon, it seems like you might need Pauline. Let's see what Bill said about it this afternoon.

FOOTAGE OF BILL SHORTEN: I believe Mr Turnbull is more motivated about keeping One Nation and the right wing of the Liberal Party happy than he is about forming sensible policy. If it's not Tony Abbott pulling Malcolm Turnbull's strings, it's One Nation telling them what to do.

JULIE BISHOP: Small problem, Bill – this was the policy of the Rudd Government, it was Kevin Rudd who announced this and Bill Shorten was a member of that Government. So this is Labor policy that's also being implemented.

JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull's been struggling in the polls lately but you are doing beautifully. The latest Roy Morgan poll has you 10 points ahead of Malcolm Turnbull. It has you and Tanya Plibersek as preferred leaders respectively, I mean you're 7 to 1, would you put some money on you? 7 to 1, you could do it.

JULIE BISHOP: Do you think it's because I'm Foreign Minister and the more often I'm out of the country the more people like it? [Laughter]

JOURNALIST: No, I don't think it's that at all.

JOURNALIST: They're good numbers for you, they're great numbers for you. You must… look at the smile, you're smiling.

JOURNALIST: She's smiling. [Laughter]

JOURNALIST: You'll get the death stare in a minute if you don't behave.

JOURNALIST: Now I understand that you're here because you want to talk about your friend's book, I would much rather talk about Donald Trump. Your friend's sugar-free cookbook, I should say.

JOURNALIST: Sugar-free?

JOURNALIST: I'd prefer to talk about Donald Trump.

JULIE BISHOP: It's all about healthy lifestyles, and attacking the burden of chronic disease. That's what it's all about. You'd like to talk about Donald Trump?

JOURNALIST: Well I'm going to set a challenge. Can you tell us, whilst weaving in your plug for your friend's sugar free cookbook, what the impact of Donald Trump's Presidency would be on us, and in particular the East Asia region?

JULIE BISHOP: It's interesting. We are preparing scenarios now for a Clinton administration or a Trump administration because I still think it's too close to call. We're not experts on polling in the US and the President isn't chosen by a national popular vote, it's through this Electoral College system, so I don't think we can call it. So we have to prepare for either candidate becoming the President. Hillary Clinton is a known quantity, she's been in government for a long time as First Lady, as a Senator, as Secretary of State, so we have an idea of where her policies would lead us. Donald Trump has not been in government before, and he's an unknown quantity when it comes to foreign policy. So we're preparing for either scenario.

JOURNALIST: What's more dangerous – Donald Trump or sugar? [Laughter]

JULIE BISHOP: That is one of the imponderable questions of the age. A question for the universe.

JOURNALIST: Would you like to give an answer?

JULIE BISHOP: Am I here to answer questions?

JOURNALIST: Yes, we hope so.

JULIE BISHOP: Got that wrong again.

JOURNALIST: Well enjoy Cup Day tomorrow, I know you're heading there. It's been a pleasure having you on. Would you please thank Julie Bishop.

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