Sky News AM Agenda - Interview with Kieran Gilbert

  • Transcript, E&OE

KIERAN GILBERT: Returning to our top story now, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us live from Sydney Airport in fact where Minister you're attending the G'Day USA event. I'll get to that in a moment of course, a popular and successful initiative with the United States. I want to ask you about Donald Trump as well. But first of all you've just got back from the Pacific, a visit there with your opposition counterpart and we've had news this morning that there's been quite a sizeable quake off the Solomons. What's been your advice on that this morning?

JULIE BISHOP: We have had reports of this earthquake off the coast of the Solomon Islands. I'm deeply concerned. We were there just a few days ago on this bipartisan trip throughout the Pacific but our embassy in the Solomon Islands, our High Commission would be well prepared to deal with any emergencies and we'll work closely with local authorities. At this stage, we've not had any information of any Australians affected by it but if people are concerned they should seek to make contact with family or friends who may be in Solomon Islands or otherwise, if they're unable to make contact to call our emergency hotline on 1300-555-135.

KIERAN GILBERT: Okay and in relation to the Solomons and the Pacific more broadly, from your visit obviously there's a big concern about climate change and on that front we've seen another appointment overnight from Donald Trump - this time a climate denier - the Oklahoma Attorney General, appointed to run the Environmental Protection Agency. First of all your reflections on the Pacific and their concerns and specifically about the Trump Administration.

JULIE BISHOP: The Pacific is a region that is very prone to natural disasters and extreme weather events. We have seen the after effects of Cyclone Winston in Fiji, Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. Indeed we inspected the recovery and reconstruction work that Australia is undertaking in Vanuatu post the cyclone. So the Pacific Islands are very conscious of the need to build resilience in their infrastructure and prepare for climate change events. That's why much of our aid program is directed to climate change resilience projects as required and requested by the Pacific Island states.

We are also co-chairing the Green Climate Fund, which is a global fund to support projects around the world and the reason Australia's co-chairing is so that we can place emphasis on the needs of Pacific Island nations on their behalf. Now, the Green Climate Fund is meeting in Samoa next week, Australia will be there to co-chair it to look after the interests of Pacific nations that are subject to these extreme weather events.

KIERAN GILBERT: And are you - can you share with us their concerns about the Trump Administration? I've spoken to diplomats in Canberra - very forthcoming in their uncertainty about Mr Trump, what it means for climate action and when I say diplomats, that is from that region, from the Pacific neighbours; did you pick that up as well in your talks?

JULIE BISHOP: Not specifically about the Trump Administration. We were focussed on the Australia-Pacific Island nations' relationships. But like all nations that ratified the Paris Agreement, we have targets and each country determined their own targets of emissions reduction and how they will meet those reduction targets. The United States, the Pacific Island nations and indeed Australia all have put forward emission reduction targets and the way that they will meet them. So we were focussing on the relationship between Australia and the Pacific Island states and how we can assist them in meeting their targets.

KIERAN GILBERT: Now in the relation to the developments in the United States, Mr Trump made- issued a couple of tweets criticising Chinese economic and strategic policy. Are you worried about that approach to diplomacy from the President-elect and what sort of implications are there for the China relationship, what sort of reaction can we expect out of Beijing?

JULIE BISHOP: The United States and China have a very robust relationship and this happens when an established power is facing an emerging power. But I believe that both countries have too much at stake to enable- or to allow any kind of conflict to emerge and I look forward to a very robust dynamic relationship between the United States and China and I'm sure both nations are well prepared to work constructively together.

KIERAN GILBERT: And finally you're at G'Day USA event, what's the focus this year? Why is it so important in terms of the US relationship in your view?

JULIE BISHOP: The United States is one of our most important partners. In fact there is no relationship more important to Australia than ours with the United States, as our region's security guarantor, our major Defence partner, the largest source of foreign direct investment into Australia and our second largest trading partner. So the G'Day USA program is about raising Australia's profile across the United States. It showcases our creative industries, our talented people in film and television, fashion, design, food, wine, music, arts, sport and it's a series of events from the west coast to the east coast that will not only enhance our trade and investment links, but also our cultural and social ties. So it's about business investment but also the overall United States relationship with Australia.

KIERAN GILBERT: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop thank you for that braving the noise and the breeze there as well from that aircraft; the perils of doing an interview in an aircraft hanger. Thank you for that. We'll talk to you soon.

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