Radio Australia, Port Moresby - interview with Liam Cochrane

  • Transcript, E&OE
15 December 2014

LIAM COCHRANE Question on Martin Place Siege

JULIE BISHOP Australia has been worried about this for quite some time and of course the Australian Government has increased funding and resources and support to our national security. We've passed legislation. We have increased the funding to our security and intelligence and law enforcement agencies and we have been concerned for some time about the possibility of an attack on home soil.

We saw an incident in Canada recently. I think that brought home to all Australians that we can't be complacent.

LIAM COCHRANE Will the [aid] cuts affect Papua New Guinea?

JULIE BISHOP I will work very hard to ensure that the impact on PNG is minimal. I have discussed this today with Ministers here but we face some very difficult choices.

LIAM COCHRANE The Manus Island Detention Centre has shifted the focus, the balance of the relationship, between Papua New Guinea and Australia. Has Australia traded its right to guide Papua New Guinea and at times criticise the country in return for having the PNG Solution?

JULIE BISHOP I don't believe that we have traded any rights in relation to this matter. The issue of boat people paying people smugglers to travel to Australia is a regional one. PNG is playing its part. As part of the Bali Process other countries are also supporting Australia in different ways and PNG has agreed to take some people who are deemed to be refugees. And of course under the Refugee Convention 'safehaven' doesn't mean you get to choose the economy or the nation where you want to end up, that doesn't mean you get to choose the economy or the nation where you want to end up. So PNG is playing its part and I thank the government for the announcement today, so determinations had been made. But we are working in partnership with PNG, as we always have. We are the closest of neighbours and dearest of friends and I think today's Ministerial meeting certainly underscored the level of cooperation on so many fronts between Australia and PNG.

LIAM COCHRANE As you mentioned Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato has announced that 50 people all up have been given positive refugee status determinations. Are you disappointed that they haven't been resettled sooner?

JULIE BISHOP I understand that these things take time and we've been working through this with PNG for some time. This is the first time PNG has been involved in such a matter and of course they want to do it thoroughly and in a measured way. I believe that we're now seeing progress.

LIAM COCHRANE There's been indications that the Papua New Guinean Government sees this essentially as a skilled migration program. Do you have concerns about the humanitarian reality for the decision making process?

JULIE BISHOP Well I'm assuming they will provide job opportunities for people who are able to work, that is part of the resettlement.

LIAM COCHRANE APEC was another focus of conversation today at the forum. There was a recent incident with soldiers and police clashing, four soldiers were shot and the city was, to be frank, in fear for a day or two. These are the security forces who will be in charge of APEC security. How confident are you and how confident is Australia in their ability?

JULIE BISHOP We are aware that law and order is an issue and a real challenge for the PNG Government and we are working to support PNG to professionalise its security and defence forces and particularly its police force. We've had a deployment of Australian Federal Police here for some time. We have repositioned that deployment and we hope that we'll be able to focus more on the training and support for the police force including bringing PNG police officers to Australia for training. So these twinning arrangements are getting underway.

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