Today show interview with Lisa Wilkinson

  • Transcript, E&OE
04 September 2017

JOURNALIST: I'm joined now by our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, good morning to you.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Lisa.JOURNALIST: Minister, would you support US military action against North Korea?

JULIE BISHOP: Hopefully there's a long way to go before we would even need to consider that. This is an exponentially more powerful weapon that North Korea has tested. We are still to verify the exact nature of it but as a nuclear test it is in direct defiance of the United Nations Security Council and so we must place unprecedented pressure on North Korea to make it change its ways. There are a number of avenues still to be pursued including significant sanctions, an unprecedented level of sanctions, which are yet to have an impact.

JOURNALIST: There's already significant sanctions in place and Kim Jong Un just continues to ignore every warning from the West, doesn't this make military action inevitable?

JULIE BISHOP: No it doesn't, in fact the unprecedented sanctions are yet to have an impact. They were imposed on 5 August, countries had 30 days within which to comply so they will just start to take effect now. China has also indicated it is prepared to go further in imposing more sanctions on North Korea. We must cut off its access to finance which is funding these illegal ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

JOURNALIST: If the situation does escalate, where does it leave Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: Well it leaves our entire region at risk. North Korea presents a global threat, it's the only country on the planet currently testing nuclear weapons and of course if it were able to place a militarised nuclear device on a ballistic missile that had the capacity to reach the United States, well then it would have the capacity to reach Australia. But we must explore all avenues to place unprecedented pressure on North Korea to compel it to change its ways and deter it from carrying out further tests.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop, I have to ask you about this story on the front of the News Corp papers this morning, reports of an expletive filled attack by Malcolm Turnbull on the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott back in 2014. Now the whole dramatic confrontation is said to have taken place on a VIP flight to Canberra and you were one of only a handful of people on board to witness it. How bad was it?

JULIE BISHOP: No such conversation took place in my presence, I can only assume it didn't happen and had the journalist contacted me about the story I would've told her that I didn't hear such a conversation and that as far as I'm concerned it didn't happen.

JOURNALIST: Three of those on board have confirmed independently that it did happen.

JULIE BISHOP: Well it didn't happen in my presence.

JOURNALIST: Well the problem is if that is the state of their relationship there is little wonder that these men are still sniping at each other today, isn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: Well I don't know who gave this story to the journalist, I don't know who the witness was, they haven't named the witness but it certainly didn't happen in my presence.

JOURNALIST: How would you have described their relationship at that point in 2014?

JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister and the then Prime Minister Abbott? It was professional, tense over policy issues but that was all public at the time –

JOURNALIST: How would you describe it now?

JULIE BISHOP: Tense, professional.

JOURNALIST: And still a few issues?

JULIE BISHOP: Well we have a lot of issues that are of concern to the Australian people and there have been many partnerships and relationships in politics that are maybe tense but professional. This is what happens, you don't have to like every single person you work with but you respect their right to be in Parliament and you get on with the job of representing the Australian people. That's what we all try to do.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of Tony Abbott at the moment and the role that he's playing continually questioning Malcolm Turnbull's leadership?

JULIE BISHOP: Well Tony Abbott is a backbencher now but he's a former Prime Minister so he has opinions and he's entitled to express them, but I'm sure that Tony Abbott doesn't want to see Bill Shorten in the Lodge. Bill Shorten would be a danger to the Australian economy so I'm sure Tony Abbott joins with all Liberals in wanting to see a Liberal-National Government succeed.

JOURNALIST: Alright, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, appreciate your time this morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you Lisa.

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