Today Show, interview with Lisa Wilkinson

  • Transcript, E&OE
10 August 2017

JOURNALIST: We're joined now by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Good morning to you.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Lisa.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, "fire and fury the world has never seen before". Are we preparing for nuclear war here?

JULIE BISHOP: The collective strategy has not changed, and that is to apply as much diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea as we can, universal pressure, so that North Korea changes its behaviour. Reports that North Korea has acquired the ability to develop a miniaturised nuclear device which could be put on an intercontinental ballistic missile are of course deeply unsettling. The United States is entitled to defend itself and its allies but the strategy is to force North Korea, through diplomatic and economic means, to stop its illegal ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons programs.

JOURNALIST: So was Donald Trump out of line with those comments? They are very inflammatory.

JULIE BISHOP: I think that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson summed it up when he landed in Guam. He said that the President was speaking in language that Kim Jong-un could understand because clearly he didn't understand diplomatic language.

JOURNALIST: You don't think that just fires this whole problem up?

JULIE BISHOP: Responsibility for the tensions and the escalation of tensions lie at the feet of Pyongyang. The North Korean regime has repeatedly violated UN Security Council resolutions, it is in breach of international law and it is North Korea that is adding to the destabilisation on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea currently poses a global security risk, and that is why the collective strategy is to force North Korea to change its ways and cease its illegal behaviour.

JOURNALIST: So you have no problem with what Donald Trump said?

JULIE BISHOP: I am not commenting on every statement that every world leader makes. I met with secretary Tillerson on Monday in Manila. We discussed the collective strategy which is to enforce the sanctions against North Korea. What has changed in recent days is that China and Russia have joined with the United States and other members of the Security Council to impose the toughest, most comprehensive range of measures against North Korea. So if that is applied universally, and we call on all countries to uphold the authority of the UN Security Council, then that will bring the necessary pressure to bear on North Korea and hopefully bring it back to the negotiating table. There haven't been Six Party Talks since 2008 and North Korea has repeatedly made promises to stop its nuclear weapons program and then it breaks those promises. It is time they came back to the negotiating table.

JOURNALIST: Alright, moving on. As we go to air accused Australian drug smuggler Cassandra Sainsbury is fronting a Colombian court to find out her fate. The problem is Cassie keeps changes her story. Is that making it difficult for the Australian Government to know how to support Cassie?

JULIE BISHOP: We are providing consular support for her, as we would for any Australian in this situation. Our consular officials will be present at court but I understand she has a legal team representing her and so they will be presenting her legal case.

JOURNALIST: Alright, moving on just quickly. The same sex marriage debate continues to dominate headlines. Now a High Court appeal is being prepared to block the non-binding $122 million postal vote that will more than likely not be representative of how the entire population feel. You support gay marriage. Can't you talk some sense into the party room?

JULIE BISHOP: Let's be very clear, Labor and the Greens combined to prevent the plebiscite legislation passing through the parliament last year. There could have been a plebiscite in the first week of February, done and dusted, but Labor keep blocking every attempt to give the Australian people their say.

JOURNALIST: But what point, a postal vote that is non-compulsory and non-binding?

JULIE BISHOP: Our preference was for there to be a plebiscite, and Labor and the Greens -

JOURNALIST: That has gone. That's not going to happen.

JULIE BISHOP: They were given two opportunities. This could have all been over by last February. This is not an issue of the Coalition's making. Labor have changed their policy – when they were in government for six years, under Julia Gillard no less, they ruled out any change to the Marriage Act. Now Labor say they have changed their policy. If they really were in support of same sex marriage they would have backed the plebiscite legislation last year, there would have been a plebiscite in February, the issue would have been over.

JOURNALIST: Alright, we will have to leave it there. Julie Bishop, thanks very much for your time this morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Lisa.

- Ends -

Media enquiries