Sky News, PM Agenda, interview with David Speers

  • Transcript, E&OE

DAVID SPEERS: Minister, thank you for your time.

The Prime Minister before he left this morning spoke about the intelligence gathering Memorandum of Understanding would soon be signed between Australia and Indonesia. What do you expect that will include?

JULIE BISHOP: I sent a draft of a joint understanding to Foreign Minister Natalegawa last December. He sent back another version in late April and I've been working on that. It essentially talks about intelligence cooperation and it will be under the Lombok Treaty. It will be an expression of our intention to cooperate on all matters of intelligence and security and that Australia and Indonesia will not use our intelligence capabilities to harm one another's interests.

DAVID SPEERS: And that's the key here… to form the words around that. Is there going to be anything in this document that says we're not going to tap the phone of leaders?

JULIE BISHOP: Well the document is still up for discussion. I expect to sit down with Foreign Minister Natalegawa at our 2 + 2 meeting - the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister meeting that's held annually between Australia and Indonesia and that date is being scheduled at present. I expect ..

DAVID SPEERS: Sure, my question is to you as Foreign Minister – is Australia willing to give any guarantee around direct tapping of leaders' phones?

JULIE BISHOP: The point that this document is to address is the intelligence cooperation that will exist between Australia and Indonesia.

DAVID SPEERS: So there won't be any guarantees on that?

JULIE BISHOP: We will both give a guarantee that we won't use our intelligence capabilities to harm one another's interest.

DAVID SPEERS: That doesn't mean though that you're guaranteeing you won't tap phones?

JULIE BISHOP: Well the document is still being debated between us. It's still part of the exercise..

DAVID SPEERS: But Australia's position on this?

JULIE BISHOP: As I stated last December, as the Prime Minister has stated, that we will not use our intelligence capabilities to harm Indonesia or its interests.

DAVID SPEERS: The Prime Minister also mentioned in the cooperation on intelligence area, people smuggling, but then also the spread of terrorism and in particular those who've returned from Syria, I want to ask you about this because we know it's a problem here in Australia to a degree. It's a much bigger problem here in Indonesia isn't it? How worried are you about the number of war hardened radicals that are coming back from Syria to Indonesia?

JULIE BISHOP: Well both Australia and Indonesia are concerned about this. This is a matter we've discussed at officials and government level about the problem of young Indonesians, young Australians in particular, dual nationals, going over to the Middle East under the guise of other reasons to travel and yet taking up with one side or the other of the Syrian conflict and becoming radicalised and learning capabilities that they may well use when they come back to Indonesia, Australia or elsewhere. This is a matter of great concern so the Prime Minister will discuss this with President Yudhoyono and I've certainly discussed it with Dr Natalegawa.

DAVID SPEERS: And so is this a way that Australian intelligence can help Indonesia by keeping an eye on some of these people?

JULIE BISHOP: We are certainly keeping an eye on these people. We're certainly tracking their movements. I have cancelled a number of passports of dual nationals.

DAVID SPEERS: Not just in Australia, in Indonesia as well?

JULIE BISHOP: It's a concern for Indonesia, it's a concern for the region. It's not just Australian and Indonesia, this is occurring in Philippines, in Thailand, in Malaysia, throughout Europe. I've had conversations with my counterpart William Hague in Britain about this issue.

It's a global concern that people are being drawn to the Syrian conflict and there is the chance, and the very real chance that they've been radicalised, they've been turned into extremists, if they weren't already, and they're learning capabilities that they could use elsewhere and that is a deep concern to governments around the world.

DAVID SPEERS: Do you have confidence that is something Indonesia can deal with in their own country, or does Australia need to help them with our intelligence capabilities?

JULIE BISHOP: This is an area of cooperation; it's an area that we want to work closely with Indonesia upon and an area where we can cooperate – that's why it's important for us to normalise our relations.

I believe that Indonesia understands that. That's why the Ambassador has been back in Canberra for over a week, that's why Foreign Minister Natalegawa and I continue to talk constantly and communicate regularly, and that's why President Yudhoyono has invited the Prime Minister to visit him as soon as possible and that's why he's there today.

DAVID SPEERS: The final leg of the Prime Minister's round the world trip will be the United States. We know President Obama this week is really ramping up action on climate change. Are you concerned this could be a point of tension between the two?

JULIE BISHOP: No, not at all. We know that countries will be reviewing their climate change targets, their emissions reductions in advance of a 2015 review. We expect countries to make announcements between now and the middle of next year.

What's interesting about President Obama's announcement is that there is no carbon tax, there is no emissions trading scheme, he's funding the clean-up of power stations. Well that's precisely what the Australian Government is doing under our emissions reduction fund.

DAVID SPEERS: Yes but he's putting a limit on what can be emitted. We don't have a limit under your policy.

JULIE BISHOP: We have a target and it's a bipartisan target of reducing our emissions by five per cent over the 2000 level by 2020. That's what Labor agreed to, that's what the Coalition has agreed to.

DAVID SPEERS: But they are fundamentally different approaches in the incentives, the direct action involved, versus the regulation and caps that Obama's talking about.

JULIE BISHOP: If you take into account your different circumstances, your different geographic circumstances, economic circumstances, the size of your economy, all these things come into play when you're considering how you'll respond. The point is we are going to repeal the carbon tax because it's not been shown to have any effect at all on global greenhouse emissions, in fact it's been costing families on average $550 a year more in increased electricity costs.

DAVID SPEERS: Finally, can I turn to China? It is the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. What are your memories of that time?

JULIE BISHOP: Like many people I remember the young activist in front of the tank, that's my greatest memory, it's etched in my mind. 1989 was a very volatile time, there had been uprisings in Burma in the year before, they had gone on through to China and that violent suppression of demonstrations I think is etched in everybody's memory.

We are calling upon China not to detain activists, or intellectuals, or artists, or lawyers and journalists during this time.

DAVID SPEERS: And that's what they're doing?

JULIE BISHOP: …to give people their freedom and to recognise that China's own Constitution allows for rights and freedoms and that they should be true to that.

In our dialogue, our Human Rights Dialogue, with China earlier this year, we made the point at this time it's very important for China to recognise the basic human rights of people, including in their own country, the rights of association..

DAVID SPEERS: They are ignoring all of that though, aren't they? I mean the activists, academics, journalists, artists that are being detained around this anniversary does suggest those freedoms are being wound back.

JULIE BISHOP: …And we join with other countries in calling upon China not to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square with a round of detentions and suppressing people's freedoms and their rights as human beings.

DAVID SPEERS: And on the tension between China and Vietnam though? The oil rig that China has deployed into disputed waters. There has now been an escalation in those tensions, a water canon has been fired by a Chinese vessel at a Vietnamese vessel. What should happen here? What's your message to Beijing?

JULIE BISHOP: This must be de-escalated, the tensions in the region between China and Japan and other maritime territorial dispute, tensions over the maritime disputes, the territorial boundary disputes between China and other countries, must be de-escalated. It must be dealt with in a peaceful constructive way. Unilateral action, coercive action must be condemned.

That's why we promote the East Asia Summit as the appropriate forum for these debates and also ASEAN is working on a code of conduct and we urge China to join in these peaceful means of avoiding these conflicts and de-escalating the tensions.

DAVID SPEERS: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop thanks for joining us.

JULIE BISHOP: Thanks David.

- Ends -

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