Sky News AM Agenda, interview with Kieran Gilbert

  • Transcript, E&OE
16 August 2017

JOURNALIST:Minister,thanks so much for your time. Penny Wong says this is a total beat-up, that itwas her staffer talking to a mate in New Zealand, there was no request orknowledge in fact that questions were going to be put to the Parliament.

JULIEBISHOP:Thatis not right. Yesterday Labor feigned outrage that I would question the use ofthe New Zealand Parliament as a platform to launch an attack on the DeputyPrime Minister of Australia and seek to undermine the confidence in theAustralian Government. Today we find that in fact Penny Wong was up to her neckin it. She orchestrated what New Zealand Labour themselves called wrong andunacceptable conduct, conduct that should never have happened. And this wrong,unacceptable conduct that should never have happened was instigated by PennyWong using a New Zealand Member of Parliament to ask questions in the NewZealand Parliament clearly designed to undermine the Deputy Prime Minister ofAustralia and undermine confidence in the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST:PennyWong says, she said this morning that she did not know that questions werelodged in the New Zealand Parliament until the media reports.

JULIEBISHOP:I findthat extraordinary. Her closest, most trusted adviser, her chief of staff, whoit seems was a chief of staff in New Zealand, is contacting a sitting LabourMember of Parliament in New Zealand and the Shadow Foreign Minister doesn'tknow about it? That just beggars belief.

JOURNALIST: She is saying it's just two friends talking on the phone.

JULIEBISHOP:It isimproper conduct for Senator Wong, for Senator Wong's staff to seek to use theNew Zealand Parliament, and these are the words of the New Zealand Labour Party,it was "wrong", it was "unacceptable" and "it should never have happened". Nowif the New Zealand Labour Party can judge it was wrong and unacceptable andshould never have happened, then it calls into question Penny Wong's fitness tohold the office of Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs if she has instigated,as now transpires, conduct that is wrong, unacceptable and should never have happened.

JOURNALIST:Butyou've been accused of the same, to be frank, over the last 24 hours for beingirresponsible, that's the criticism levelled at you by Penny Wong but alsoothers suggesting that it was reckless to endanger one of our closest relationswith New Zealand with what she calls the "Kiwis under the bed conspiracy".

JULIEBISHOP:TheNew Zealand Government have been embarrassed by this, the New ZealandGovernment have called into question the conduct of New Zealand Labour, and wefind that the Australian Labor Party through Penny Wong put them up to it. Sothe New Zealand Government have also called into question this wrong,unacceptable behaviour that should never have happened. In fact the New ZealandForeign Minister…

[Broadcast interrupted due to technical issues]

…it's about the use of the New Zealand Parliament, that isunprecedented, to use the New Zealand Parliament to try and undermine theDeputy Prime Minister of Australia. Imagine if the situation were reversed andthe opposition in New Zealand were trying to use the Australian Parliament toundermine the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand.

JOURNALIST:Butthey're denying that happened, they're just saying it was a conversationbetween two mates…

JULIEBISHOP:That is not myunderstanding.

JOURNALIST:…itwasn't a request of the question. They're saying they didn't even knowquestions were going to be asked.

JULIEBISHOP:Thatis not my understanding. Questions were lodged and there is a report out nowthat the whole issue was instigated by those questions asked in Parliament,questions that New Zealand Labour judge were wrong, unacceptable and shouldnever have happened. The New Zealand Member of Parliament has apologised many,many times for this behaviour instigated by Senator Penny Wong here inAustralia.

JOURNALIST:Alright. And you can understand why youwat to be targeting any sort of link between the two parties across the ditchbut was it wrong for you to say that it might be difficult to establish aworking relationship with the Labour Party if they win the next election?Because that has been also criticised, that you overstepped the mark with that.

JULIEBISHOP:Not atall. After I said that, the New Zealand Labour Leader came out and concededthat the conduct was wrong, that it was unacceptable, that it should never havehappened, and that the Labour MP involved apologised many, many times.

JOURNALIST:So youaccept that apology and you move on?

JULIEBISHOP: I takeher at her word.

JOURNALIST:Youcan work with them now?

JULIEBISHOP: I takeher at her word.

JOURNALIST:You wouldn't have said that about anyother country though, would? In terms of China, Indonesia, India. You'd neversay that about anyone else except New Zealand, that you can't get on with them.

JULIEBISHOP:Ireject the fact that it seems to be acceptable conduct in the mind of thecommentariat here for the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs to use her officeto set up a Labour MP in New Zealand to ask questions in the New ZealandParliament that the New Zealand Government were obliged to answer. That isimproper conduct wherever it occurs, and I'd like to know is Bill Shortendirecting his troops to ask these questions in other parliaments around theworld? Is that what they are doing? This is about an Australian constitutionalissue and it is improper for Penny Wong to seek to use the New ZealandParliament and the person so being used, the New Zealand Leader, has said theconduct is wrong, unacceptable and should never have happened. That calls intoquestion Penny Wong's fitness for office.

JOURNALIST:ForeignMinister, we're out of time. Appreciate it. Thanks.


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