Today Show - Interview with Sylvia Jeffreys

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: World leaders are meeting in Japan this morning as North Koreaintensifies concerns over its nuclear program with a vow to launch missiletests every week. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in the region and joins usnow live from Tokyo. Minister, good morning to you.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Sylvia.

JOURNALIST: We will get to North Korea in just a moment. But first let me ask you aboutthe tough new citizenship test announced yesterday. What prompted thecrackdown?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia's success as a nation has been builtupon waves of immigration and Australian citizenship brings with it privilegesas well as obligations to Australian society. So these reforms are designed to ensurethat those who become Australian citizens embrace our values, respect our lawsand are prepared to make a contribution to the rest of Australian society. Sothere are a number of questions that new citizens must be able to answer thatgive an indication that they are in fact prepared to embrace our values,respect our laws and make a contribution to our society overall.

JOURNALIST: It is very tough, particularly the need to prove your integration intothe community. Are you concerned at all that the new test could furtheralienate those who are already at risk of radicalisation?

JULIE BISHOP: Not at all. In fact, the opposite should bethe case. We are asking a series of questions and I don't think anyone could seriouslydefend an attitude that says women are not equal to men or that violence againstwomen is acceptable. So we are looking to test attitudes to ensure that peoplewho take out Australian citizenship - and it is a privilege to become anAustralian citizen but it also has responsibilities and obligations with it - thatthey are prepared to embrace the values, the laws, the attitudes that we haveas a society that's made us so successful.

JOURNALIST: I come back to that need to prove integration again quickly. It isblurry, I suppose, and particularly I wonder with the example of a stay at homemother, who is at home running the household looking after the children and howshe perhaps goes about proving her integration without employment. Werecommunity groups consulted before the announcement yesterday?

JULIE BISHOP: There was very wide consultation. In fact a broadnational consultation was undertaken by Senator Fierravanti-Wells and PhilipRuddock. We have also had a number of reviews and I know that the Department ofImmigration has been consulting widely. So we are putting out a series ofreforms that I believe will be embraced by most Australians and most certainlypeople wanting to become Australian citizens. We want this to be a successfulmulticultural, tolerant, free and open society. We want people who embracethose values. Other countries would likewise want the same for their newcitizens, to embrace the values and the fundamentals that make the country whatit is.

JOURNALIST: Let's move on now to North Korea. Let me ask you frankly Minister - arewe on the verge of war?

JULIE BISHOP: The increased tensions on the Korean Peninsulahave come about as a result of North Korea's belligerent behaviour. It is continuingto defy numerous UN Security Council resolutions that ban nuclear and missiletesting and it is continuing to ramp up the rhetoric. Indeed the other day ithad mock up videos of ballistic missiles attacking the United States. This kindof behaviour of course increases tensions. The United States has said that itwill work with the international community to ensure that North Korea does notachieve the capability that it threatens. Australia will likewise work with othermembers of the international community including here in Japan, with SouthKorea, the United States, and particularly with China to bring North Korea intoline with international community expectations.

JOURNALIST: Have you offered or made any offer of military support to America if warerupts?

JULIE BISHOP: The United States has not requested it and theUnited States is focussing on finding peaceful means to ensure that North Koreabecomes a functioning member of the international community. There are manythings that the United States can do including further sanctions and workingwith China, who has a unique relationship with North Korea and can do far moreto bring North Korea into line. So while the United States has said that all optionsare on the table, and that clearly includes military options, it is preferringto go down the path of diplomacy as well as finding other ways, including financialsanctions, to make North Korea realise that what it is doing is causing greatinstability in our region and globally.

JOURNALIST: There is a lot of tough talk though. A lot of talk of military action. Alot of huffing and puffing as well coming from the United States corner. Willyou, will Australia, support military action from America if it reaches thatpoint?

JULIE BISHOP: The United States has indicated that there aremany options available to it and we would prefer to see peaceful means resolvethe escalating tensions. That will be achieved by North Korea abiding by the UNSecurity Council resolutions that ban nuclear and ballistic missile testing. Indefiance of those resolutions, North Korea has increased the tempo and scale ofits tests and we must work with other countries, particularly China, who has anability to leverage North Korea like no other country has, to work with Chinaand the United States to ensure that North Korea realises the impact of its rhetoricand its provocative actions and behaviour.

JOURNALIST: Just finally on news back home and on to the Prime Minister's decision toscrap the 457 visa. Labour market testing is the big grey area here, how isthat going to work?

JULIE BISHOP: The whole idea of these reforms is to ensurethat Australians are given the opportunity to undertake jobs and that employersare prepared to support the development and training of Australians to undertakethose jobs. We had a situation in the past when Bill Shorten was the EmploymentMinister that Australians were missing out on jobs that were being given to foreignerswithout testing whether there were in fact Australians available and willing totake those jobs. We want to ensure that Australians have the opportunity toundertake these jobs and that employers are prepared to train and develop themin order to do so.

JOURNALIST: But who will be in charge, I suppose, of that labour market testingwhich seems to be the big question here at the moment. Who is going to be incharge of that and how will it play out?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, employers have a responsibility, ofcourse, to abide by the law. If the law is that you market test first, toadvertise to see if there are Australians available to take the jobs, then thatwill be abiding by the law. I don't think anyone is seriously arguing againstthe proposition that if there is an Australian willing and able to take a jobthat they should be overlooked in favour of a foreign worker brought in to takethat job. I think that the community sentiment is that Australians, people wholive here and want to contribute and pay taxes, should be given the opportunityto do so.

JOURNALIST: All right, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, we appreciate your time this morning.Thank you very much.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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