Sunrise, Canberra - Interview with Samantha Armytage

  • Transcript, E&OE

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Minister, good morning to you.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning Sam.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Let's start with the refugee intake. How did you arrive at the number 12,000?

JULIE BISHOP We discussed this with the experts at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and we talked to our settlement services here in Australia, to determine how many people we could support as quickly as possible, 12,000 appeared to be a figure that the experts agreed upon and it was something that we could afford, that we could absorb, and we felt that the community would be able to take on board.

Given that it is the largest single intake in one year since World War II, we had to be sure that we would have places, accommodation, schooling, educational services and the like for them and so 12,000 was the figure we settled upon.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE What is the process now? I mean, as you say, it would be irresponsible to take people in if we didn't have beds for them. How do you resettle these people? Are they likely to go to cities or will they go out to regional centres? What is the process and the timeline?

JULIE BISHOP The process is first to select the people from the camps and from countries that are currently providing refuge to them, in particular that's Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. There will also be people from within Iraq and Syria. They will then be screened by the UNHCR as well as our officials who will travel to the region and work with the United Nations to put these people through security checks, character checks, health checks and the like.

Then they will be flown to Australia and we will work with settlement services here in Australia. We are also working with state and territory governments who have offered to house some of these refugees and we will also work with church groups and other NGOs to accommodate them and provide them with full services because they will be coming as permanent residents of Australia.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Yes, okay. Let's talk about the decision to join air strikes in Syria, probably within the next week. Realistically, what difference is that going to make in terms of Islamic State?

JULIE BISHOP The whole humanitarian crisis is being caused because of the conflict within Syria and Iraq. A major part of that conflict is this terrorist organisation Islamic State or Da'esh. Currently, it is operating out of eastern Syria into Iraq and so we have been part of air strikes in Iraq targeting Da'esh but because their military bases and their supply lines go into Syria, we will now take part in air strikes into Syria.

I spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry last night and we discussed in detail how these operations would work, but the Coalition of a number of countries including Canada, Great Britain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, will be working together to target Da'esh resources and bases across that border of Iraq and Syria. As it was, we would be flying across Iraq and then having to stop and go back if they crossed into Syria, so now we will be able to follow their military efforts into Syria.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Okay, that sounds good. All right, let's hope we can make a big difference in the military and humanitarian fields. Julie Bishop, thanks for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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