Sky News AM Agenda

  • Transcript, E&OE
23 November 2016

JOURNALIST: We're joined now by the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on our top story today, this 18 year old from Perth, he's been detained on or allegations around drugs. What do we know? What's the Foreign Affairs Department telling you?

JULIE BISHOP: Kieran, our consular officials in Bali have been in contact with him and we are making arrangements to visit him today. In the meantime our consular officials from Canberra have been in contact with his family in Perth. Under Indonesian law someone in this circumstance can be held for three days then another three days while an investigation is carried out and then a decision is made whether to arrest or not. So this is very early days. I don't want to say anything that would compromise his circumstances or be counterproductive but we are working very closely with his family and hopefully…

JOURNALIST: It's schoolies week, this is every family's worst nightmare.

JULIE BISHOP: Well Kieran, I take this opportunity to remind young people who are going away on a schoolies trip or travelling overseas at the end of school and their families, that once you leave Australia you leave our legal system, you leave our support system and you are subject to the laws of another country. And we know that in Indonesia, they are particularly harsh on drug-related offences and we have seen, tragically, a number of Australians caught up in the Indonesian judicial system. So we are doing what we can for this young man, we understand he has a lawyer, we are keeping in contact with his family.

JOURNALIST: What's your advice as to the penalties in the area? Are you turning your attention to that at this stage or is it more just simply trying mobilise the consular support?

JULIE BISHOP: At this stage our focus is on assisting his family and the young man navigate their way through the Indonesian judicial system, so that's what we're focusing on, to ensure that all processes are appropriate and doing what we can and providing whatever advice we can.

JOURNALIST: From one consular case to another, in China and the Chinese authorities have now advised the Department of Foreign Affairs that three Australian Crown employees have been charged under gambling offences.

JULIE BISHOP: We have been formally advised that three Australians have been arrested on suspicion of gambling-related offences, that's right.

JOURNALIST: And so what's…where to from here in terms of legal support, are they afforded legal support?

JULIE BISHOP: Our consular staff visited all three yesterday and they are in good health, they are all represented by lawyers and we were able to provide advice and support and messages from their families, but it is a very difficult circumstance, but we will continue to provide whatever advice and support we are able to.

JOURNALIST: And it goes to the heart of the bilateral, commercial relationship doesn't it? Because Crown is one of the many businesses that is trying to increase its market in that huge middle to upper class there.

JULIE BISHOP: Like many Australian businesses, Crown has significant interests in China. We work very closely with China to enhance two-way trade, investment in their country, investment in our country. So we work very closely with the Chinese to achieve that. There is however an overall anti-corruption agenda of President Xi Jinping and gambling is one of the areas of interest to them. So again we are subject to the laws of China, we are subject to the laws of the country that we are visiting or we are operating in.

JOURNALIST: Any advice to businesses that are undertaking that involvement with China, because obviously it can be fraught as we're seeing in this case?

JULIE BISHOP: As for any business that is seeking to set up or work overseas, of course we urge people to take the best advice that they can on the laws, the circumstances, what's happening on the ground; the political, social, economic situation of the country; do the due diligence and I'm sure Crown did that, but we are providing whatever support and advice we are able to do so in these circumstances.

JOURNALIST: Let's look at the case of Donald Trump, the ongoing transition for the President-elect. This morning he has given an interview just in the last couple of hours with the New York Times in which he says in relation to the Paris Agreement, he's keeping an open mind to that. You would welcome that sort of message.

JULIE BISHOP: Yes it is a message that President-elect Trump has given in a number of areas. He is a businessman and he says that he's up for negotiation on a range of matters. It's interesting to see that he said that he's got an open mind on the Paris Agreement, and I think that would be because after the last Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh it was quite evident that the private sector, that business, is looking at low emissions forms of energy and so the United States under the Obama Administration set a target for emission reductions and that will in part be delivered by the private sector. So the governments have done their job in negotiating an agreement, where each country put forward their nationally determined targets and then it's up to each country to work out how they'll achieve that. Well in the United States, as in Australia, much of that falls to the private sector. So whether the Trump Administration was in the Paris Agreement or not in the Paris Agreement, their targets would probably be met in any event.

JOURNALIST: So he's moderating his language in terms of the Paris Agreement, also moderating his language when it comes to Hillary Clinton – we saw the chants at Trump rallies over many months of "crooked Hillary", "lock her up". Now his spokesperson Kellyanne Conway says they won't be pursuing court action over the email server. What's your reaction to that?

JULIE BISHOP: Clearly President-elect Trump realises that he needs to bring the American people together. Both candidates admitted that it was a divisive, bruising campaign and this appears to be an effort to unite people so that he can deliver on some of his campaign promises, but clearly not all of them.

JOURNALIST: No, and one of them which seemed to generate a lot of heat at those rallies is in relation to Hillary Clinton, but from an international perspective you would welcome that, wouldn't you? In terms of that effort to try and as you say, bring that nation together.

JULIE BISHOP: We certainly welcome efforts to unite the United States and it is a very important partner for Australia. We want to see a strong, powerful – economically strong – United States because it is in our interests and it is in the interests of the region and the globe for the United States to continue to be such a strong strategic and economic powerhouse, for the good of the world.

JOURNALIST: Well indeed and one of the elements to that, a key post will be Secretary of State, your counterpart in the US Administration. A lot of speculation from Mitt Romney to Rudy Giuliani, David Petraeus the former General as well being mentioned, John Bolton…

JULIE BISHOP: Senator Bob Corker.

JOURNALIST: Yeah, there's a whole heap of them. Do you have any advice on that, any intel?

JULIE BISHOP: Obviously this is a matter of great interest to us, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence as well as other positions, so we are following it very closely. A number of names have been put forward and indeed President-elect Trump has met with a number of people so the speculation keeps running. But until such time as the announcement is made, I won't continue to add to the speculation. Then of course a number of the positions have to be confirmed by the Senate, so even though the President-elect may announce the person he has chosen for that spot, they then have the process of confirmation. Not all positions are subject to Senate confirmation but some are, including Secretary of State.

JOURNALIST: And someone like Mitt Romney, you would think would get through the Senate process very easily but then one of the analysts that I spoke to yesterday suggested maybe this is a situation like George W Bush having Colin Powell in Secretary of State and then a more hawkish Donald Rumsfeld type in Defence, is that what you expect?

JULIE BISHOP: They of course have a majority in the Senate, so the Senate confirmations may not be as bruising as others we've seen where the White House doesn't have a majority from their party in the Senate. So I would expect the Senate confirmation processes to be perhaps a little more seamless than we've seen in the past, but it would be interesting to see. I won't speculate on how President-elect Trump wishes to put his Cabinet together but they certainly have a range of people to choose from. There are some very experienced Senators and there is a precedent for appointing people from the Senate in particular, into these Cabinet posts.

JOURNALIST: Minister, I know you've got to get going but I appreciate your time. Thank you.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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