Sky News AM Agenda - interview with Kieran Gilbert

  • Transcript, E&OE
21 September 2016

JOURNALIST: …United Nations now is theForeign Minister Julie Bishop. Very busy day for you, started with the InternationalSupport Group for Syria and we've seen the events in the last few days – thecollapse of the ceasefire – is there really any prospect that that ceasefirecan be in place, reinstated by the end of the week?

JULIE BISHOP: Therewas a unanimous view that the ceasefire is not dead, the ceasefire must bereinvigorated and, indeed Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov are bothcommitted to ensuring that the ceasefire holds because there is a humanitariancrisis of mammoth proportions in Syria, and the ceasefire must hold so thathumanitarian relief can get to the beleaguered people. People are dying, thereis a terrible crisis there, and there was a general commitment to ensuring thatwe put all options on the table and find a negotiated path to peace.

JOURNALIST: Have you been briefedthough on who is responsible for the bombing of that aid convoy?

JULIE BISHOP: Thatwas a terrible incident that occurred. These were trucks, UN trucks clearlymarked that were leaving Turkey to go to people in Aleppo that are sufferingand that incident is truly shocking. However as was indicated by both Russiaand United States, we must allow investigations to take their course. There'sno point making accusations until the facts are known. So there's an investigationto establish the facts and it was certainly an appalling incident.

JOURNALIST: But are the Russians and Secretary of StateKerry working together now that they have agreed on a path forward?

JULIE BISHOP: Therewas a meeting before the International Syria Support Group met – the SupportGroup is a broader cross section of foreign ministers from not only the US andRussia but also the EU, Middle East and Australia, Canada and Japan – andSecretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov did have a meeting beforehand.There were no direct accusations or allegations made in front of all the groupbut clearly they had agreed that the ceasefire they had negotiated must bereinvigorated and must stand so that a path to peace can be negotiated.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried that theAustralian sortie which we are involved in with the US-led airstrikes, thatbombing raid killed the 80-odd Syrians, is that what broke the ceasefire?

JULIE BISHOP: I don'tbelieve that's the case. There is an investigation underway into that but thereare spoilers in Syria, there are groups that do not want there to be peacenegotiations - and they are on both sides – and so we are calling on all thosein the room, all of the countries represented in the International Syria SupportGroup to use whatever influence they have over the various groups in Syria. It'sa very complicated and complex environment, to use whatever influence they haveto ensure that a ceasefire can hold and humanitarian relief can be provided anda negotiated peace process can begin.

JOURNALIST: Minister, can I ask youabout the numbers in terms of refugee intake? The Prime Minister is committingas we speak to maintaining 18,500 refugees…


JOURNALIST: 18,750 ok, each year by2018. Is this artificially inflating the gravity of that by the Governmentsaying it is the third largest permanent settlement in the world when you lookat so many countries in Europe and so on having to deal ad hoc with hugenumbers?

JULIE BISHOP: What weare talking about is permanent resettlement not transitional. This is apermanent resettlement process so that we are focussing on those who arepersecuted minorities, ethnic and religious minorities, women, children inparticular – those who have least prospect of returning to their homes. Thereare many displaced people who are in camps on the borders of Syria and Iraq, inLebanon and Jordan, but they are being held there with a prospect of going homeat some point. We're taking people who have no prospect of ever going back, thepersecuted minorities, and we are on a per capita basis the third largest afterCanada and the United States. That's a fact.

JOURNALIST: What about the refugees,genuine refugees, 800 plus on Nauru and Manus? Are we, your Government, thePrime Minister saying that we've got a great story to tell but that's not avery strong part of the framework?

JULIE BISHOP: What wehave sought to do is smash the people smuggling trade, the criminal networksthat were preying on vulnerable people, putting them on unseaworthy boats,putting their lives at risk. Now we have to send a very strong message to thepeople smuggling trade that we will not allow it to restart, and so those whohave been found to be refugees on Manus and Nauru will not be resettled inAustralia. That will only encourage the people smuggling trade to start again.

JOURNALIST: Sure but that must weigh onyou that they're not being resettled at this point, that they're still inlimbo?

JULIE BISHOP: Butthey will be resettled, there is an opportunity for them to be resettled inPapua New Guinea. We're working with other countries, we're working withCambodia, through the Bali Process which we co-host with Indonesia, we arelooking at third country options and will continue to do that.

JOURNALIST: How much of a priority isit for you though because it has been many months now, years that theseindividuals have been left in limbo, in part because of the Labor policy I'mfully aware of that. But the Government hasn't been able to find a resolutionto it?

JULIE BISHOP: Butthey are also subject to the laws of Papua New Guinea and Nauru and they havebeen undertaking the processing of claims, and a number of people have been foundnot to attract protection. They are not refugees for the purposes on theconvention, and they should return home. So there is a range of differentcircumstances that we have been dealing with but the Government of Papua NewGuinea and the Government of Nauru are also taking responsibility.

JOURNALIST: You've had a series ofbilaterals as well, bilateral meeting here at the United Nations including thenew Foreign Secretary of the UK. What can we expect with the former LondonMayor?

JULIE BISHOP: Well infact I have met with Boris Johnson on a number of occasions. He has a greataffection for Australia, I'm looking forward to an ever deepening relationshipwith the UK particularly post-Brexit and there are many opportunities for us tohave a closer engagement with the United Kingdom. Yesterday I attended aninitiative that was commenced by Belgium, Iraq and the United Kingdom aboutholding Daesh, the terrorists, to account for the atrocities that they'vecarried out. This is an initiative being driven by Boris Johnson and others andAustralia certainly supports that. We are exploring ways to prosecute theindividual terrorists, not just defeat the terrorist organisation militarilybut actually hold the individuals to account through an internationalinvestigation, perhaps under the auspices of the International Criminal Court.So Boris Johnson has shown that he is going to be very a proactive ForeignSecretary and I look forward to continuing to work with him.

JOURNALIST: The final issue I want toask you about is the final stages of the Presidential campaign. You're meetingwith both camps? Have you met with any of them yet, the Clinton or Trump camps?

JULIE BISHOP: Yes Ihave, both in Washington and here in New York. I have met with members of theirtransition teams. These are the people who will be organising the transitionfrom the election date in November through to the Inauguration in January, andthen thereafter the appointment of Cabinet places and the like, but alsomembers of the campaign teams who are working up until November 8, theelection. And I've met with representatives from both the Trump teams and theClinton teams and have stressed how important we believe the alliance with theUnited States is. We've stressed the importance of upholding our alliance butalso the importance of free trade, and of course the Trans Pacific Partnershiphas been an issue of considerable discussion between us…

JOURNALIST: But both have been criticalof that. My final question is would the alliance hold up in the face of a TrumpPresidency?

JULIE BISHOP: Certainlyfrom Australia's point of view, absolutely. And the Trump camp made it quiteclear to me that Australia is considered to be a close and strong ally of theUnited States. So I am confident that whomever the American people in theirwisdom choose to be their President, there will be an ongoing strong connectionwith Australia.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister thanks somuch for your time. We appreciate it.

JULIE BISHOP: Mypleasure.

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