Sunrise, Interview with David Koch and Samantha Armytage

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, thanksfor joining us. Can you confirm whether any Australians wereinjured in this attack?

JULIE BISHOP: My understanding, Kochie, is thatno Australians are involved but it is still early days. OurHigh Commissioner has been in contact and he has said that, at thispoint, there is no evidence or information to suggest any Australianswere involved. But I certainly do extend condolences to the Britishpeople, the British British Government for yet anotherhorrific attack. I've spoken with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson here inWashington, he's here for these meetings, and extended our concernand support, and if there is any information that we can provide or assistwith, we certainly will give it.

JOURNALIST: Minister, youare in Washington, ironically, talking about how to defend ISIS, howto stop these kinds of attacks. Again we have seen an ordinary car beingused to create absolute carnage. How do authorities stop lone wolvesfrom attacking like this?

JULIE BISHOP: Our focus at these meetings is ondefeating ISIS, the terrorist group, particularly at its root in Syria andIraq. But of course there are ISIS- inspired attacks around the world andwe are discussing how we can defeat ISIS the organisation but also preventothers being inspired or attracted by its ideas and by itsideology. In Australia we have reviewed our intelligence, our laws,our law enforcement capability, to ensure that we are as prepared as wecan be to prevent these attacks. We have had a review of importantpublic buildings and public spaces, but, as we've seen in London thesematters can escape the attention of the authorities. These matters canoccur, these incidents, but we do all that we can to ensure we havethe resources and the laws to keep Australians safe.

JOURNALIST: And you havetaken a tough stance on anyone returning from the battlefields ofSyria. That must be a concern for a lot of nations, that we aredefeating ISIS on the battlefields of Syria and a lot of thosefighters are making or sneaking their way home now.

JULIE BISHOP: That is absolutely right. Aswe have more pressure on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as we take backterritory like the city of Mosul and then the city of Raqqa, if wetake back these provinces, then the foreign terrorist fighters, ifthey survive, are likely to seek to return home. That is why weare working so closely with countries in Europe, in the Middle Eastand particularly in Southeast Asia, sharing real-time intelligenceand information, so that we can monitor and track them. And of coursewe have laws in Australia that, should they reach Australia thenthey could potentially be prosecuted for breaches of Australian laws.So we are working very closely with other countries in our region andbeyond to ensure that our region and particularly Australia is assafe as possible from potential terrorist attacks.

JOURNALIST: When you spoketo Boris Johnson on the phone, he is a Londoner through and through,this has happened at the front door of his offices, how was he? Ishe shaken by this? You know, how are Londoners?

JULIE BISHOP: He is actually here in Washingtonattending this meeting. So I spoke with him here and he had to absenthimself from some of the meeting obviously, to take calls fromLondon. But he did address the meeting about the attack. He said itwas very early days, that the British police will be carrying out aninvestigation and that at this stage they were treating it as aterrorist incident unless there was other evidence that came to hand orcame to light that would prevent them from doing so. But he wasclearly very upset about it, as were the other foreign ministers thatwere here because after all, this is the whole point of our meeting herein Washington, to work out ways to continue to maintain the pressure onthis terrorist organisation and prevent attacks from taking place inSyria, Iraq and elsewhere around the globe. We have seen too many ofthese incidents in recent times. That is why the Australian Governmentis focused on making sure we have the resources and the laws tokeep Australians as safe as possible.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, willAustralia be contributing any additional resources to the fight against ISISin Iraq and Syria, and also including that sort of globally in terms ofintelligence?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia is already one of the largestcontributors militarily, we have about 1000 personnel both taking part inair strikes over Syria and also training and assisting in the support andadvising the Iraqi security forces in Iraq. We have trained about20,000 Iraqi security force personnel. We have also provided about$500 million of funding on a humanitarian basis to Syria, Iraq and alsocountries like Lebanon and Jordan and Turkey who are supporting the bulk of thepeople fleeing, the displaced people, the refugees fleeing from theconflict in Syria and Iraq. Of course wewill continue to play our part and it may well be that we are askedto provide more and we would of course consider any specific request atthat time.

JOURNALIST: You have calledon countries during this trip around Syria to do more in this situation,are they the countries you mean? Lebanon and Jordan and Turkey? To step up? Andis it up to that region to sort out its own problems?

JULIE BISHOP: We're talking about countriesthat stand to benefit from, directly, from the cessation of hostilitiesin Iraq and Syria – the countries in the Middle East, the Gulf countries.We want to see countries that are able to defeat the narrative; wewant to hear strong and moderate Muslim voices drowning out thevoices of extremism and the voices that are promoting this terroristideology. So I, and other foreign ministers, have called on thosecountries that have, for example high profile imams, strong moderateIslamic voices to drown out the voice of extremism that seems to be actingas a magnet in convincing young people in particular to join theforces of this terrorist organisation in Iraq and Syria.

JOURNALIST: Howmany of these countries in the Middle East, you're talking aboutSaudi Arabia and some of the leading kingdoms over there, how manywere present at your meeting over the last day?

JULIE BISHOP: Virtually all of them. The 68countries represented at the large group Coalition was made up ofcountries from Europe, from Africa, from Southeast Asia, from theMiddle East and from the Gulf countries as well as the United Statesand Canada and others. So it was a very broad representationof countries across the globe. This afternoon there was a smallgroup Coalition meeting and I represented Australia at that meeting, and that comprisesthe countries that are making the largest contribution and Australiais one of the largest contributors to the effort to counter ISIS.

JOURNALIST: What was the reaction fromthose Middle Eastern countries that you are encouraging to help more?

JULIE BISHOP: They understand that ISIS is athreat to not only Iraq and Syria but to their region and beyond. Anumber of them made some very positive contributions about what more theycould do. Indeed a number of them pledged more money to help withthe humanitarian crisis that has followed this conflict, butalso more in the messaging, on social media and in other forms. In gettingthe message across in mosques, in schools, in families, that joining ISISis a terrible undertaking, and that's why we also focused on the driversof why people would join a terrorist organisation like this, economicopportunity and political empowerment. These are two issues that countries inthe Middle East must address.

JOURNALIST: Yesterday Americaand Britain announced bans on any electronic devices bigger than amobile phone being forbidden to be carried on flights from theMiddle East and North Africa. Will Australia be following that lead?

JULIE BISHOP: We have certainly noted thatadvice from the United States and the United Kingdom and we haveadjusted our travel advice accordingly so that Australian passengerswho might be passing through the nominated airports are aware of thisrestraint. But we are making enquiries and working with ourintelligence agencies and partners overseas before we make anydetermination.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, reallyappreciate your time from Washington.

Media enquiries