Sunrise, interview with Samantha Armytage
JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good morning to you.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Sam.
JOURNALIST: Interesting numbers in this report. Does it report indicate Australians are worse behaved overseas than ever before?
JULIE BISHOP: Well Sam, first, a record number of Australians are travelling overseas. Last year there were over 10 million departures by Australians for overseas. There were about 15,000 occasions when consular support was sought from our officials overseas. The bad news is that the number of arrests overseas is increasing, the number of hospitalisations. But our message is clear: take out travel insurance, if you can't afford travel insurance, you really can't afford to go overseas. Make sure you have got the right cover for your activities, what you are doing overseas, but also then look up the Australian Government's website, smartraveller, and then register online so that we know you are overseas and you might need help. So there are lessons to be learned from the survey we took of Australians' travel overseas last year. Most particularly, be prepared and be informed.
JOURNALIST: Ok, alright. Terrific advice. Let's move on to this ongoing arrest in China. Police there are reportedly preparing to charge the 18 Crown Casino employees for allegedly organising gambling overseas, they're calling it a 'whale hunt'. Have you been in touch with them or their families?
JULIE BISHOP: Most certainly our consular staff have been in touch with the families throughout. There are three Australians among the number detained, and yesterday our consular staff in Shanghai were able to visit Mr O'Connor and one of his colleagues in the Shanghai detention centre. We have of course been in touch with the families to inform them of the results of that visit. I understand that under Chinese law, they can investigate alleged crimes for up to 30 days before charging and that can even be extended further. We don't have any details at present as to the particular charges that they may or may not be facing.
JOURNALIST: Let's talk about the latest battle against Islamic State. The Iraqi Army taking back control of Mosul, or attempting to, in Northern Iraq. Amazing pictures coming out of Iraq this morning. Do you think this is enough to see the collapse of the terror group in Iraq?
JULIE BISHOP: Most certainly it is an important milestone because it is taking back one of the major posts that ISIL or Daesh had seized from the sovereign government of Iraq. It is important that this city of Mosul be liberated from ISIL, and also that we be ready for the humanitarian needs of those who are caught up in the Mosul offensive. It is important because the Government of Iraq must be in control of its borders, and that is going a long way in defeating ISIL. And of course here in Australia, we are concerned with ensuring that foreign terrorist fighters who left our shores and went to Iraq, do not commit crimes, do not commit terrorist activities when they come back to Australia, if they come back to Australia.
JOURNALIST: Ok. Finally, while we have got you, we want to ask you about the US Presidential Election. Tomorrow is the final campaign debate. As the Foreign Minister, do you have concerns about either candidate?
JULIE BISHOP: We most certainly work with whomever the American people in their wisdom choose as their President. The relationship between the United States and Australia is stronger than any one or two personalities, it is a long-standing alliance. The US is one of our most important economic partners. So the relationship will continue to thrive, and I will leave it to the American people to decide who they want. I think there is so much worldwide interest in these Presidential Debates, but I noted one commentator said that if the United States charged per overseas viewer to watch the debates, they would probably be able to pay off the national debt.
JOURNALIST: [Laughter] Well there is one thing to say for it, it makes Canberra looks calm, doesn't it?
JULIE BISHOP: [Laughter] It is all relative, I guess.
JOURNALIST: You all look like pussy cats. Ok Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, thank you for your time today, we'll talk to you soon.
JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Sam.