Sky News AM Agenda, Interview with Kieran Gilbert

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: We're going to return now to the ForeignMinister, Julie Bishop. I think we've fixed that communication glitch. She'swith us from Washington, Minister, thanks for your time. Another lone wolfattack and you'd assume it was IS inspired?

JULIE BISHOP: It is a shocking incident and our heartsgo out to the British people and the British public and the Government. I'm inWashington and the UK's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is here, and I extendedour deep condolences to him on behalf of the Government and we both discussedwhat a shocking and sad incident it was. The British Government are treating itas a terrorist incident, until evidence would indicate otherwise, and in thosecircumstances we certainly stand with the United Kingdom in its fight againstterrorism.

JOURNALIST: And seeing the images of the paramedicstrying to revive the attacker, it was a stark contrast between the civilisationof that great democracy and the violence of the terrorist.

JULIE BISHOP: Precisely, and that's why we must counterthe ideology and the ideas and the narrative of terrorist organisations likeISIS, with an alternative narrative. And the compassion and the freedom and theliberty that exists in countries like Great Britain was on stark display today.These terrorist attacks - if it is a terrorist attack - are very difficult todetect. If it's a lone wolf, if it's a person operating alone, somebody who hasself-radicalised, it's very hard for our intelligence and security agencies todetect it. But we are determined to continue to cooperate with other countries,to work together to defeat terrorism at its source in Syria and Iraq, and alsoto prevent ISIS-inspired attacks happening outside Syria and Iraq and elsewherein the world, including in our part of the world and Australia.

JOURNALIST: Indeed, and in our Parliament as well, we've seen security gradually increase.Do you feel that this is the latest example of just why that is necessary? Andin the context of an attack where the person used a vehicle - once again nogun, no explosives - almost impossible to detect.

JULIE BISHOP: It is very difficult to detect this kindof incident in advance, an individual it would seem using a vehicle, and thisis what we're seeing more recently in Brussels, in Nice, in Paris. We're seeingattacks by individuals. They may well be inspired by ISIS, it's too early forus to say in relation to this attack in Britain, but it's in an area of Londonwell known to so many Australians, well known to people around the world - theWestminster region - and it is shocking to see it. But it's why we are focusingso heavily on national security; why we're investing in our security and lawenforcement and intelligence agencies; why we're enhancing our laws to ensurethat we can keep Australians as safe as possible.

JOURNALIST: Now on the refugee intake, we're seeingthe front page of The Australian today:security red flags via the Five Eyes Network prevented 500 potential refugeesfrom coming to Australia, 30 of those were detected on ASIO's terrorism watchlist. Should Australians be reassured that those watch lists, both at home andwithin the Five Eyes Network, that they're working?

JULIE BISHOP: Well I certainly can't give any detailsof our intelligence capabilities, except to say they are amongst the best inthe world, and it is consistent with what we're seeking to do in carrying outvery thorough security checks on those who seek to come to Australia. And wehave been criticised for taking time, but it's important that we carry outsecurity and health checks as thoroughly and as carefully as possible, andthat's what we will continue to do.

JOURNALIST: And so Australians can be reassured withthe 10,000 individuals who do arrive here that the 'extreme vetting' - for wantof a better phase - has been carried out?

JULIE BISHOP: We have been very careful and verythorough as we always are, in carrying out security and health and other checksin relation to the visas that we do provide, and this is certainly consistentwith the approach that we take. We want to ensure that people who come toAustralia become part of our community, that they are positive and contributingand constructive members of our society. And of course we do carry out verythorough security checks, and our security and intelligence agencies work withother partners, in sharing information and sharing intelligence, all designedto keep Australians safe and to ensure that we are as secure as we possibly canbe.

JOURNALIST: And now you're in Washington for thatglobal Coalition in the fight against ISIS. Has there been a shift in emphasis,do you think, under the Trump Administration with Secretary of State Tillersonsaying overnight that degrading ISIS is not enough, that they must to wipedfrom the map, essentially?

JULIE BISHOP: Most certainly the Coalition's objectiveshad always been to inflict serious damage on ISIS, and the Trump Administrationhas confirmed that they want to see ISIS wiped out, and we agree. We don't wantto see a resurgence of such a terrorist organisation elsewhere in the world. Wewant to prevent ISIS-inspired attacks occurring elsewhere in the world andwe're focusing particularly on South East Asia. And I've been visiting mycounterpart foreign ministers in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, thePhilippines, to ensure that we are working as closely and as cooperatively aswe can to share information and intelligence and practices and experiences toprevent terrorist attacks in our part of the world. Part of that involvesworking with this Coalition in Syria and Iraq to defeat ISIS at its source andAustralia is one of the largest contributors to that effort, and that's why I'mhere in Washington to represent Australia at both the large group meeting ofabout 68 foreign ministers and then the smaller group meeting this afternoon ofabout 22 foreign ministers. Both were hosted by Secretary of State RexTillerson which indicates the importance that the US Administration places onthis initiative and this effort to defeat ISIS.

JOURNALIST: And on the emphasis that you put on thisas well, you've decided to be there in Washington just as the Chinese Premieris here with your counterpart Wang Yi, why that decision?

JULIE BISHOP: I met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi justlast month. We had a very long bilateral meeting in Australia and this meetingin Washington is very important because we have about 1000 military personnelin the theatre and we have committed about $500 million in humanitarian supportin Syria and Iraq and we are one of the largest contributors to the effort todefeat ISIS. And so it's absolutely in Australia's national interest that I behere representing Australia at the first counter-ISIS meeting hosted by the newUS Administration and chaired by Secretary of State Tillerson. It was extremelyimportant for us to be part of the discussions and to be here to listen to theUnited States Administration talk about its proposal for the defeat of ISISunder the new Administration. And so that's why I'm here in Washington at boththe large group meeting of 68 foreign ministers and the smaller group;Australia was present at both.

JOURNALIST: And just before you go quickly, it's beenreported that Australia was one of 11 countries signing a letter to Chinaurging the Government there to investigate widespread reports that lawyersinvolving human rights cases were being tortured. Is that accurate?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia has always been an upholder ofhuman rights and we have often spoken in multilateral fora and elsewhere aboutthe need to adhere to the international rules-based order and that includesacting against human rights abuses. So that's a position that Australia hastaken over a very long period of time and both sides of politics support ouradherence to the protection of human rights around the world.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop inWashington, appreciate your time.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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