Today Show, Channel 9 - interview with Karl Stefanovic

  • Transcript, E&OE

KARL STEFANOVIC Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has taken Barack Obama to task over the President's comments on climate change and its potential impact on the Great Barrier Reef. The Minister joins us live now from New York.

Good morning to you. You didn't hold back. He was out of line wasn't he?

JULIE BISHOP Well Karl as a matter of fact I had briefed the US Secretary of the Interior just days before President Obama's speech specifically on the work that the Australian Government and the Queensland Government was doing to preserve and conserve the Great Barrier Reef, because we know better than anyone what an environmental icon it is for Australia and we treasure it.

So it seemed to me that the President wasn't aware of the briefing that had been provided to his Secretary of the Interior. And so after the speech we sent a detailed briefing to the White House so that the President would be aware of the huge commitment that we have made - $2 billion over the next 10 years specifically to conserve and preserve the Great Barrier Reef.

Indeed, we'd made an announcement that the Abbott Government would ban capital dredge waste dumping in the marine park and that was an important matter to take into account.

KARL STEFANOVIC So what happened then? He was deliberate in his actions? You don't make mistakes at that level or his people underneath him wouldn't make mistakes. What's happened?

JULIE BISHOP Well, that's a matter for the White House to clear up. I was just concerned that the President have all of the facts about our capacity and our commitment to preserving and conserving the Great Barrier Reef and indeed the fact we were working closely with the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO to ensure the Great Barrier Reef would be preserved for generations to come.

KARL STEFANOVIC He was out of line?

JULIE BISHOP Well they're your words Karl, they are not mine. I was informing the President of the actions we are taking. That mining and drilling and exploration in the marine park is banned, that we had now banned the dumping of capital dredge waste and these are all important factors in the preservation and conservation of our beautiful Great Barrier Reef.

KARL STEFANOVIC So the President showed a certain element of ignorance then?

JULIE BISHOP Well I hope the President does bring his family to see the Great Barrier Reef because it's one of our environmental icons. It's a huge tourist attraction and indeed about 70,000 jobs are dependent upon the Great Barrier Reef being maintained as a beautiful tourism attraction.

KARL STEFANOVIC The Queensland Government I guess slow off the mark over the years but certainly making in-roads now to try and do that and you're right to point that out.

Let's move on an update on Peter Greste if you will? The Australian journalist obviously jailed in Egypt and still there. It's abhorrent he's there in the first place but there seems to be reports coming out of Egypt suggesting a Presidential pardon might happen. Is there an update on Peter Greste at all?

JULIE BISHOP We have been making representations at the highest levels, ever since Peter Greste was detained and then after he was jailed and convicted for various offences. We have been making these representations so that he can get a presidential pardon or clemency in some form. And to date we have been told that his appeal has to be concluded before this could be considered, and the appeal is listed for 1 January. So if there is a move for him to be released earlier we certainly welcome it. It's what we have been calling for, but up until now the President and others in the Egyptian Government have been saying we have to wait for the legal processes to be concluded before any consideration would be given for a pardon or clemency.

KARL STEFANOVIC His family have been through so much as you would only know too well. Is there hope there? Is the door slightly ajar?

JULIE BISHOP Well it's good news if the President is seeking to change his mind and allow the consideration of a pardon before the appeal. But up until now we have been told that the appeal must run its course. It is listed for 1 January 2015. Whatever the outcome, Australia will be pressing to bring Peter Greste home to his family.


You have also revealed the Government has seized the assets of terrorists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar. How will this stop them from committing additional acts of terrorism moving forward and are other countries doing as much as they can be to stop this from happening?

JULIE BISHOP One of the reasons I'm at the United Nations Security Council this week is to lead a debate on the issue of starving these terrorist organisations of foreign terrorist fighters and financing and funds and also to deny them any legitimacy. So Australia and other countries are taking steps to identify the sources of funding and financing and to starve these organisations of that resource. So we are doing it in Australia, other countries are also doing it. It's an international coordinated effort to ensure that these terrorist organisations can't continue to flourish, and put at risk the lives of so many people and cause so much misery to aid workers, to civilians, in Syria and Iraq and beyond.


KARL STEFANOVIC You are wearing a lot of hats at the moment. One final question and it comes from a very good place trust me. A lot of young women, including my daughter, I overheard debating the other day and she's only nine, she's like many other women around the country, young women around the country, look up to women like you in the business and they also looked up to women in the past like Julia Gillard. Unfortunately they say well hang on a second, will another woman ever be Prime Minister of this country? And they are looking to someone like you to possibly be that. If called upon, post Tony Abbott, would you have the courage to put your hand up?

JULIE BISHOP Karl I'm not coveting anybody else's job. I am Australia's Foreign Minister, this is a remarkable position to hold, I feel very privileged to be Australia's Foreign Minister and particularly over here at the United Nations Security Council when Australia really is making a difference in so many significant ways, it's an honour for me to fulfil this role.

KARL STEFANOVIC You are sounding like the UN now.

JULIE BISHOP Well I have been here for three days!

KARL STEFANOVIC They are corrupting you!


KARL STEFANOVIC Foreign Minister, thanks for your time. Always appreciate it. You are a busy lady and we always appreciate it and so do our viewers, you spending some time with us. Thank you, safe travels.

JULIE BISHOP My pleasure. Thank you.

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