Today Show, interview with Karl Stefanovic

  • Transcript, E&OE
19 October 2016

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is with us now from Canberra. Foreign Minister, thank you for your time. This is all kinds of nasty.

JULIE BISHOP: Well the Mosul offensive is designed to take back the Mosul region from ISIL, the terrorist organisation that claimed a caliphate, an Islamic caliphate, over this part of Iraq some two years ago. It is a very important milestone because this is the last key stronghold of ISIL in Iraq. This is all part of our efforts on behalf of the Iraqi Government and with the Iraqi Government to take back territory that had been seized and also to assist the Iraqi Government to protect and secure its borders and keep its civilians safe.

JOURNALIST: There is some intense fighting going on at the moment. There are also serious concerns, as you know only too well, that any ISIL leftover will head to Europe. How much of a concern is that, do you think?

JULIE BISHOP: Well of course this has always been our concern that the foreign terrorist fighters who came to both Iraq and Syria to take part in the fighting, the conflict on the part of ISIL ,will then seek to return home at some point. That's why we're working so closely with partners throughout Europe and particularly in our region to detect those who have been fighting, who are experienced terrorist fighters, and ensure that they cannot carry out a terrorist attack in Europe or, indeed, in our region and more particularly here in Australia.

JOURNALIST: Do we have any boots on the ground there?

JULIE BISHOP: In Iraq we have about 400 personnel who are supporting the Iraqi security forces, training, assisting, advising.

JOURNALIST: In the frontlines?

JULIE BISHOP: No, we are part of the support.


JULIE BISHOP: We're working with the overall Coalition forces to train up the Iraqi security forces, which we have been doing for a couple of years, and I think we have trained about 12,000 Iraqi security forces including some of those who are in the battalions taking part in the Mosul offensive.

JOURNALIST: Ok. Doing a wonderful job too, aren't they?

JULIE BISHOP: They are indeed.

JOURNALIST: We wish them the very best. Meantime, let's talk about some other things. James Packer has expressed his concern for Crown Casino employees being detained in China. Three of them are Australians. Julie, when will the consular officials be able to see them? Do we know yet?

JULIE BISHOP: We have visited Mr O'Connor and one of his colleagues. There are three Australians detained, and our consular officials had an extensive visit yesterday. They are in good health, their wellbeing is looked after. The third Australian we are still seeking to visit, but there's a question over whether he entered on his Australian or Chinese passport, I understand, but we hope to resolve that shortly. We will continue to make consular visits as and when we can.

JOURNALIST: The outlook in terms of incarceration seems pretty bleak, about when they might have their day in court, if any.

JULIE BISHOP: Under Chinese law, as I understand it, the authorities can have up to 30 days to investigate people who have been detained before charging them, if they are to charge them, and that period of 30 days can be extended by another seven days. So it might be some time before we know what charges, if any, they are facing. But in the meantime, our concern is to ensure that they are being appropriately treated and we found yesterday that they were.

JOURNALIST: Ok, just finally before we go, Wayne Gardner, motor cycling legend Wayne Gardner, he is in the clink in Japan as well as his 18 year old son for not having an international drivers licence. Have you got an update on those two?

JULIE BISHOP: We certainly have also provided consular support to Mr Gardner and his son. The details of this incident are being reported, but we have not been able to verify them, but we are continuing to provide whatever support we can while he is detained in jail in Tokyo.

JOURNALIST: Ok, Foreign Minister, thank you for your time. Busy day.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure, Karl.

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