Radio 2GB Sydney, interview with Alan Jones

  • Transcript, E&OE
26 May 2017

ALAN JONES: I'vegot the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop right here beside me. Minister, goodmorning. Thank you for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning, Alan.

ALAN JONES: Verysignificant day here. You're just back from America, there's talk today thatsenior Trump officials are fearing a nuclear arms race in the Asia Pacific ifNorth Korea is not reined in. Were you briefed on that while you were there?

JULIE BISHOP: I most certainly was. It's been aconcern of not only senior US administration leaders, but also in South Koreaand Japan and elsewhere. In fact China shares the same concerns. North Koreahas been building its capability in ballistic missiles and you've seen thatthey have tested them in the Japan Sea in recent times. They are alsodeveloping nuclear weapons capability. The concern is that if they are notstopped then they will be able to meet their aim, which is to launch an intercontinentalballistic missile with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States.That is their aim.

ALAN JONES: Wellyou made a very important point just there which I want to come back to; yousaid that China has been alerted to this. Did you get any impression when youwere being briefed by everybody in America that Trump has changed basically hisattitude towards China, before the election he said he was opposed to all ofthese goods coming into America and he was going to impose tariffs on Chinesegoods and he was going to attack the currency and so on. If he's been able tomake some agreement with China in relation to tariffs and currency and so on,then is he most probably the quid pro quo that China might be able to keepNorth Korea in check?

JULIE BISHOP: What happened under the Obamaadministration is what was called "strategic patience". In other words theydidn't take any action against North Korea. China was able to get on with lifewithout being held accountable for North Korea's actions and North Koreaincreased the scale and tempo and pace of its ballistic missile testing. Sowhat the Trump administration has done is change the dynamics. They have saidto China you are the source of North Korea's foreign direct investment. Chinais the source of their export income. China provides the remittances to theirworkers. In other words North Korea cannot exist without China's financialsupport.

Sothe Trump administration has essentially thrown down the challenge to China tosay together we must manage this North Korean problem, because it is not only athreat to the region, it is a global threat, and if unchecked …

ALAN JONES: Andwhat are they saying to you about the China response then? What did they tellyou in America about China's response? I get the impression that China arelistening.

JULIE BISHOP: At first they resisted but now theyare listening and the conversation with China has changed quite significantlyin that they are now talking about the Korean problem as being a sharedproblem. In the past they would say it's all the United States concern thatNorth Korea will only deal with the United States. Now they acknowledge thatthey have a role to play and we have been urging China to use this undoubtedrelationship with North Korea to work with the United States to resolve theNorth Korean problem.

ALAN JONES: Okay,so given that and on the briefing that you go have you been given anyindication of what the response from North Korea has been to those overtures byChina.

JULIE BISHOP: North Korea currently is rebuffingovertures from China, which is frustrating China. In the past North Korea wasseen as very much within the sphere of influence …

ALAN JONES: Sort of satellite,yeah.

JULIE BISHOP: Indeed, and a branch of theircommunist party. But now North Korea is being far more belligerent, takingsteps that in fact offend China. One of their ballistic launches took placeduring President Xi Jinping's big showcase for the One Belt One Roadinfrastructure showcase and that was quite an offensive act on North Korea'spart. Apart from being provocative and belligerent it was also seen as a snubto China.

ALAN JONES: Didyou get any impression that America had the capacity and was likely to use it?Because I know there's a lot of talk here now that we're going to have to mostprobably Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapon capability to match thedevelopments in North Korea. Did you get any impression in America that Americahad the potential to intercept these launches? I mean a couple of theselaunches haven failed haven't they and everyone says oh why did they fail,don't know how they failed. Is there an American presence there already to thatextent?

JULIE BISHOP: There is a US missile defence systemin South Korea and yes you're right, a number of these ballistic missile testshave failed. But we can't take comfort in that because each time they do itthey increase their capacity and capability.WhatI did hear loud and clear particularly from the United States representative atthe United Nations, Nikki Haley, she's a rising star in the Trump cabinet, shemade it quite clear that when the United States says all options are on thetable when it comes to North Korea, they mean it. They are not kidding.

ALAN JONES: So when you saidyesterday - you were quoted yesterday as saying that American officials hadsuggested to you that the real risk was North Korea being recognised were yourwords, as a nuclear weapon state. What exactly does that mean?

JULIE BISHOP: Meaning that if we allow North Koreato develop nuclear weapons capability and combined with their ballistic missilecapability, then they will become a rogue nuclear state. Pakistan acquired …

ALAN JONES: Inbreach of international agreement, right.

JULIE BISHOP: Indeed. Pakistan acquired nuclearweapons in breach of resolutions and international agreements. If we allowNorth Korea to continue to flout UN Security Council resolutions in clear andflagrant breach of international laws, you then have a rogue nuclear state.

ALAN JONES: Right. So come toyour words then - if we allow - what capacity therefore does the west, Americaand its allies have to prevent North Korea from becoming the rogue nuclearstate?

JULIE BISHOP: We have a window of opportunity inrelation to economic sanctions and this is where we need China's support. NowChina has in recent times …

ALAN JONES: Ithink this is the guts of it really.

JULIE BISHOP … agreed to impose sanctions. You willrecall that they agreed not to sell coal to China. The UN Security Council isconsidering other sanctions of financial, travel, a whole range of furthersanctions on North Korea and if China were to adhere to that sanctions regimeas I've indicated they will, that will change the economic scenario in NorthKorea and essentially bring it to the negotiating table.

ALAN JONES: Ithink Trump's having some success with the Chinese leadership on all of this Ihave to say, but as you say time is not necessarily on our side. Now, Americahave said, they've sent two nuclear submarines to the region. What do you make -what's the significance of that?

JULIE BISHOP: Sending a very strong message thatmilitary options are included in the options on the table and that they are notbluffing.

ALAN JONES: USintelligence officials are reported today of saying that the North Koreantrajectory for military nuclear ability is getting closer. What is thetimeframe in this window of opportunity to shut this down?

JULIE BISHOP: Well over the past six years thescale and pace and tempo of their ballistic missile testing has increaseddramatically. Instead of being one every couple of years, there are now testsevery couple of months indeed…

ALAN JONES: [Indistinct] The costmust be monumental, mustn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: Huge, and this is all at the expenseof the impoverished people of North Korea.


JULIE BISHOP: And I urge the North Korean regime tostop its nuclear testing and stop its nuclear weapons program and focus itsvery sparse resources on the impoverished people who are suffering dreadfullyunder this regime.

ALAN JONES: Awful. Absolutely.Now, you've got a meeting here- I understand that senior officials from theTrump Administration will be here next month for this AUSMIN -

JULIE BISHOP: In July- in June, that's right.

ALAN JONES: Justexplain the AUSMIN meaning.

JULIE BISHOP: AUSMIN is the Australia-USMinisterial dialogue …

ALAN JONES: [Interrupts]On defence.

JULIE BISHOP: Well it's the Secretary of State, mycounterpart; the Secretary of Defence, our Defence Minister's counterpart; sothere are the four of us plus the Chief of their Military, the Chief of ourDefence Force. We come together over two days and talk about the strategic andglobal issues of interest and concern to both our nations. It's one of the mostvaluable exchanges that we have with the US administration.

ALAN JONES: Andmost probably the most valuable way of addressing North Korean issues isdialogue with China, isn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: Absolutely. China is key to thisentire scenario.

ALAN JONES: Whatdo you make this morning of the talk that - because there's still a massive -you've just been there - this massive media campaign against Trump; they almostwant to deny the fact that Trump is the President of the United States and sonow they're saying information about Manchester has been leaked - particularlythe New York Times which is a massive supporter of Hilary Clinton's - andthere's been talk that now the British have stopped sharing information withthe United States. That's a pretty serious development, isn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: It's a very serious developmentbecause we rely on intelligence sharing with our Five Eyes partners and ourFive Eyes partners means the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada- Australia. We rely heavily on the closest cooperation and intelligencesharing in our counter-terrorism efforts. I'm not aware of the circumstances ofthe leak - none of us know that yet - but clearly it's a great concern to theBritish, understandably, and it's a great concern to the Trump administrationand I would imagine that there will be a very thorough investigation. We musthave the closest cooperation between the countries we trust, but also we aredeveloping intelligence sharing networks across the Middle East, throughout ourregion. It's the information exchange that enables us to track down and huntthose who would otherwise carry out attacks.

ALAN JONES: What feeling did youget though being there? I mean, when our own Prime Minister had a phoneconversation with Donald Trump, they suddenly find a transcript available ofthat to The Washington Post. Now, those really are serious breaches ofsecurity. If it can happen on that it can happen on anything else; and that'shappening here now, jeopardising the relationship between Britain and America.

JULIE BISHOP: I was in New York recently and, asyou rightly pointed out, New York was Hilary Clinton's town. They supported herin the election …

ALAN JONES: [Interrupts]93 per cent.

JULIE BISHOP: Indeed, and my expectation was thatthere would be huge opposition to Donald Trump as there had been throughout thecampaign but interestingly amongst the business community, the Republican andDemocrat business community, it's gone from apprehension to cautious hope thathe will be able to get some of his reforms through the Congress. Cutting redtape which is stifling infrastructure projects in the United States and taxcuts. Those two reforms will be very much at the heart of a US economicrevival.

ALAN JONES: He'sgoing to address NATO - I think it's today - Trump, isn't he? And the argumenthe's going to say is that other nations within the NATO area have got toincrease their defence spending. Now, America are currently spending, I think,4 per cent of GDP on defence and there are many nations in the NATO enclave onless than 2 per cent. We can't go on expecting America to be the policeman forthe free world, can we?

JULIE BISHOP: Once more, President Trump haschanged the conversation, he's changed the narrative. He said, the UnitedStates will continue to play its part but that doesn't mean everybody else getsa free ride, and I think it's a very powerful message. It has resonated inNATO. Some countries are now increasing their expenditure on defence. Some ofthe NATO countries like Estonia and others are already at 2 per cent, Australiaaims to be at 2 per cent of GDP. We will carry our fair share of the burden ofensuring that there's peace and security and stability in the world as theUnited States have done since the Second World War.

ALAN JONES: He'sasking people to pay their way.

JULIE BISHOP: That's right.

ALAN JONES: Justto domestic issues: we've got a citizenship pledge, when people take thecitizenship pledge they say; from this day forward I pledge my loyalty toAustralia and its people whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights andliberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey. You've got yourcolleague Peter Dutton wanting to boot people out of the country who have beenfound to be murderers, rapists, paedophiles, armed robbers, drug dealers; andthe Administrative Appeals Tribunal - headed by former Labor MP Mr Justice Kerr now- saves these people from deportation; more than 80 cases. Is this another casewhere you've got to be serious about the kind of administrative structureswe've got? This is not- the public out there are angry that your government isdoing nothing about this - the Administrative Appeals Tribunal - and, indeed,Gillian Triggs and the Human Rights Commission.

JULIE BISHOP: There have been some outrageousdecisions in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and our government isdetermined to change the culture within that Tribunal. I think that some of theexamples that have been in the media recently really underscore the concern ofthe Australian community, and the ATT's decisions must be more in line withcommunity expectations.

ALAN JONES: Well I mean, 11,323, Minister,ministerial visa decisions - 11,323 - were reviewed by the AdministrativeAppeals Tribunal in the 12 months to April 2017, they reject 4389 of them;overturned Peter Dutton's visa decisions.

JULIE BISHOP: Outrageous, and some of the decisionswhere people claimed to be fleeing persecution then received the protection ofthe Australian people with a refugee visa and then returned home for a holidayto the country where they believed they were being persecuted - outrageous.That's why we are determined to change the culture within the AAT so that itsdecisions are in line with community expectations.

ALAN JONES: I'vegot to ask you about the polls. There is a real concern out there - You're thedeputy leader of the Liberal Party, apart from anything else - 53/47, theycontinue to go south and there is a deep concern about Turnbull and Morrisonand they say that people are not listening. What are you going to have to do toturn this around?

JULIE BISHOP: Alan, you and I have both been aroundpolitics for a long time. This is not inconsistent with other polling for othergovernments throughout the last 20 years. I remember John Howard storming homein 1996, only to nearly lose two years later. Tony Abbott won a magnificentelection in 2013, only to lose the support of his colleagues 18 months later.So this is not inconsistent with the cyclical nature of politics …

ALAN JONES: [Interrupts]If the polls knocked Abbott off, why won't the polls knock Turnbull off?

JULIE BISHOP: Well I don't accept that peoplearen't listening to Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. I think the lastBudget was, in fact, very much in line with community expectations. We have 18months to continue to win the respect and the trust of the Australian people.

ALAN JONES: Goodon you. Great to talk to you. Thank you for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: Always. Good to be here.

ALAN JONES: Idon't know how you manage it. It's an awful travel itinerary you've got, butyou still look alright in the face of it, I can tell you.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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