Sunrise, Perth - Interview with Matt Doran

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Joining me now is Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop, Julie thank you so much for your time this morning. Look, the first group involved in this scandal were dubbed the 'Citizenship 7', it could be the Citizenship 70 the way we're going at this rate. Help me understand this. How on earth? We've got Stephen Parry embroiled in this now. How on earth - In what parallel political universe could he have only just realized this, and I guess when did the Government know?

JULIE BISHOP: I spoke to Stephen Parry yesterday and that as the first time I was informed that he was seeking advice about his citizenship. Now he understood that he was an Australian citizen and his father was an Australian citizen. After the High Court handed down its decision clarifying what section 44 meant, then he sought advice. There have been many changes made to Australia's citizenship laws since the Constitution was adopted in 1901, it's a very complex area. The High Court has now clarified section 44 and Stephen Parry then took advice and I understand he is still waiting for that advice.

JOURNALIST: It may well be complex Minister, but I mean, we have been talking about this for a long, long time. Is it acceptable that the Senate President has only just realized? The timing is so curious. Did he wait for the High Court ruling thinking: "I'll roll the dice here?"

JULIE BISHOP: I'm not aware of his state of mind. I do know that once the High Court handed down their decision, he read it over the weekend and he sought advice at the earliest opportunity which was on Monday. I spoke to him on Tuesday. Clearly, we wouldn't choose this situation. We would prefer if it wasn't like this, but it is, so we're dealing with it on a case-by- case basis. We retain a majority of House of Representatives, that's where the parliamentary work is done, that's where legislation is created and passed. We have 75 seats of 149 seats, and we have the support of sufficient crossbenchers to ensure confidence and supply so the parliamentary work goes on.

JOURNALIST: Minister, talking about confidence, and I apologise for interrupting, but lets look at the optics here. I mean, if you can't run the registration of the members of your own party, how can the public have any sort of confidence that you can run the country? I mean this is astonishing. He signed off on the orders for the six other MPs heading to the High Court. This is astounding.

JULIE BISHOP: Each member and senator has a responsibility to ensure that they are eligible to stand for Parliament. We now have a High Court decision which clarifies section 44 and every person has a responsibility to ensure that they are eligible. In the case of Barnaby Joyce, he will be facing a by-election in the seat of New England, and we hope the majority of people in New England support him so he will be back and the composition of the House of Representatives will be as it was at the last election. In the case of Senators who are found to be ineligible, then they are replaced in an established process of either a casual vacancy or recount at the last election. So the business of the government will go on. I'd rather we didn't have to face these challenges but we do, and we will deal with them.

JOURNALIST: It has been a big week for you, Julie Bishop. You're - of course - you are now Acting Prime Minister. Now, the media script goes, I ask you if you're lusting after the top job and you swear some sort of undying allegiance, Game of Thrones style allegiance to the Supreme Leader. So let me ask you another way; what have you enjoyed about being Prime Minister this week?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm Acting Prime Minister for a short period while Prime Minister Turnbull is overseas and Barnaby Joyce is unavailable because he is facing a by-election. So I am doing my job. I'm here in Perth and responding to media questions and interviews and I am visiting my constituents, I'm talking with people. It's just as if I was the Foreign Minister, but I just have added responsibility. I'm just doing my job.

JOURNALIST: Oh, you have added responsibility on top of that. Let me ask you a quirky one. Did you actually change the email signature, Acting Prime minister?

JULIE BISHOP: [Laughs] No, I didn't do anything like that.

JOURNALIST: No? If you were vengeful you might want to send a few emails to Members who have got you offside? No?

JULIE BISHOP: Oh, yeah that'd be a really good idea. I must take more political advice from you in the future, obviously.

JOURNALIST: You must, yes. Let me move on to a much more serious issue if I could. There are some emerging reports out of New York this morning that has all the hallmarks, it looks at this stage of a potential terror attack, a car into pedestrians and cyclists. Any information filtered through to you as yet?

JULIE BISHOP: We are following this very closely. It is clearly an unfolding situation and our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this tragedy. The detail of it is still to emerge, but we will obviously keep people updated. Australians in New York and in the vicinity should follow the advice of local authorities and contact our consular hotline if they have any concerns. Obviously, if you're worried about friends or relatives or loved ones in New York, please make sure you try to contact them and if you're unable to do so, then call our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade hotline.

JOURNALIST: Sound advice. Let's hope they're all ok. It's going to be a busy day for you by the sounds. Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop, thank you very much for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

- Ends -

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