Sunrise, New York - interview with Samantha Armytage

  • Transcript, E&OE
20 September 2016

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are in New York for the UN General Assembly, and Julie Bishop joins me now. Foreign Minister, good morning and thanks for your time. How disconcerting is it for these attacks to happen in New York, at the time of the largest meeting of world leaders this year?

JULIE BISHOP: Sam, obviously, these are disturbing incidents but, as you mentioned, one suspect has been taken into custody by the law enforcement authorities here. The UN General Assembly Leaders Week is one of the busiest weeks in New York – this is the fourth time that I have represented Australia during this busy World Leaders Week – so the security here is already at a significantly higher level. With almost 200 world leaders and foreign ministers and their delegations here, there is a very high level of security. Even though these incidents have taken place at this time, the presence of New York Police and other law enforcement and security agencies here is very apparent. It is probably one of the safest place to be in the United States at present.

JOURNALIST: The suspect in this New York bombing was born in Afghanistan but he is a US citizen. It does appear that these lone wolf attacks are now the greatest threat to the West. How on earth do the leaders including yourself, meeting at the UN this week plan to fix this problem? Take on these lone wolf attackers?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia has been at the forefront of the attempts to counter terrorism. We are taking part in military operations in Syria and Iraq to defeat the terrorist organisation because this organisation – Daesh or ISIL – inspires others to carry out attacks in its name or in accordance with the model it promotes. So, as we have more success against the terrorist organisations in the Middle East, the more likely it is that attacks will take place in other parts of the world. That is why we have beefed up our security, the resources for our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, we have introduced new legislation to better be able to gather evidence and carry out prosecutions against those who might well be inclined to carry out some kind of attack against Australia. We have thwarted a number of potential terrorist attacks. We are working in cooperation with partners in the region to share information and intelligence, and we're doing what we can at home, working with the States, to ensure that we can keep Australians as safe as possible and counter terrorism in all its forms.

JOURNALIST: Speaking of Syria, let's look at Australia's involvement in this botched airstrike in Syria that left almost 100 Syrian soldiers dead. Should we be halting those strikes until we know how this mistake happened?

JULIE BISHOP: This is the subject of an investigation. The US-led Coalition is continuing to carry out airstrikes against Daesh, against the terrorist organisation but the particular incident to which you refer is the subject of investigation, and of course Australia is taking part in that investigation.

JOURNALIST: Ok, let's go back to the UN now. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed world leaders overnight. He urged countries to stand together to deal with the refugee crisis. How do think his message was received there?

JULIE BISHOP: I think it was very well received, particularly the message that governments must be in control of their borders. Australia has had experience since John Howard was Prime Minister – that if the government is in control of the borders and determines who comes into the country, and there is order and integrity in our immigration system then countries can take more immigrants, we can increase the number of refugees and humanitarian visas for example, but the government must be in control. That' a message that is being well received – a number of foreign ministers have spoken to me about the Australian experience and the political will that we showed in ensuring we would defeat the criminal networks that give rise to people smuggling and human trafficking.

JOURNALIST: Now you have also met human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, of course the wife of superstar George. What did you discuss?

JULIE BISHOP: I have been working with Amal Clooney for some time. She is a human rights lawyer and she is acting for a group of Yazidis, one of the ethnic religious minorities that has been so brutalised in both Syria, but more particularly in Iraq, by the terrorist organisation ISIL or Daesh. Amal Clooney is seeking to bring the plight of the Yazidis to the attention of the UN Security Council so that the terrorists are held to account through the International Criminal Court, and I am certainly backing that call. I attended a meeting today with Amal Clooney, Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Minister and others calling on the UN Security Council to back an investigation by the International Criminal Court into these shocking atrocities that are being perpetrated by the terrorists against Yazidis, particularly women and children.

JOURNALIST: Ok well we are going to hear more from Amal Clooney a little bit later on Sunrise. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, thank you for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure, thank you.

Media enquiries