Today Show, Kuala Lumpur - interview with Lisa Wilkinson

  • Transcript, E&OE

LISA WILKINSON: The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now from Malaysia.Good morning to you Minister. More debris found on the shores of Reunion Island, can you fill us in on the latest that you have been told?

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning. I have spoken to Malaysian Ministers and officials here in Kuala Lumpur and they believe that part of the wing of MH370 has been found, and that it is currently in France for further investigation and analysis. I am not aware of all of the details that they have, but that has certainly been their view and the announcement made by Prime Minister Najib backed that up. The French authorities are being more cautious because there are more tests that need to be carried out.

But I think there is a strong presumption, we can deduce from the fact that there seems to be only one Boeing 777 unaccounted for at present, that is MH370, and this wing is part of a Boeing 777. So that is why Australia has said cautiously that there is a very strong presumption, a high possibility that this is, of course, part of MH370.

I know it is a very difficult time for the families of those on board that flight, but at least we seem to have some evidence that flight MH370 will be found, particularly in the search area that we have been focusing upon.

LISA WILKINSON: As you said a very frustrating time for the family members of those who have been lost on MH370. Who is actually running this investigation?

JULIE BISHOP: It is a French-led investigation because the debris has been found on French territory. However, Malaysia is the country of the national carrier, it was a Malaysian Airlines so they are also involved. Indeed, Australia now has a representative from our Transport Safety Bureau in France so we will have direct access to some of the evidence and information as soon as possible. Australia is involved because not only did we have Australians on board, we have also taken over the lead of the search effort in the southern Indian Ocean. So Australia will have a representative in the investigation team and we will be able to have our own direct access to what is going on.

LISA WILKINSON: With that research, Australia has already spent $70 million and pledged another $50 but is that going to be enough? The Indian Ocean is a very big area.

JULIE BISHOP: You are absolutely right. It is a large, inhospitable part of the world's oceans and the search effort has already taken some 16 months. But we believe it is very important for international civil aviation generally for us to determine what happened to this flight as well as provide the opportunity for families of those on board to have some closure. This, at present is one of the great aviation mysteries of our time. And for the purpose of safety and security, and faith and trust in the civil aviation system we must do what we can to find MH370. Of course we owe it to the families of those on board to do that as well.

LISA WILKINSON: More than half of those on board Minister, were Chinese nationals. In fact 153 people on board MH370. Are you going to ask China to start contributing to the search?

JULIE BISHOP:I met with the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during my meetings here in Kuala Lumpur and we discussed the search effort for MH370. China is still devastated by the impact of this disappearance. As you say half to two-thirds of the people on board were Chinese. Currently China has been contributing resources and we have been working closely with Malaysia and China to continue that search effort. Up to 26 countries have been involved at one time or another in the search. There will be a reckoning of costs in due course but at present our focus is on ensuring that we follow every piece of evidence to ascertain the whereabouts of MH370.

LISA WILKINSON: Minister just finally, you met with your Indonesian counterpart this week, your first since the executions of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, has Indonesia been forgiven?

JULIE BISHOP: However deeply we disagree over the issue relating to the use of the death penalty, Australia and Indonesia are neighbours, we are partners across so many areas of endeavour and it is important that we maintain a strong relationship. And so we have put the issue of the use of the death penalty as one of those issues upon which we will differ, there are a number, but we must work together for the interests of the Australian people and the Indonesian people.

I have a very warm and personal relationship with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and we are both determined, as the Foreign Ministers of our respective countries, to act in a way that ensures the relationship between Australia and Indonesia continues to grow. It is in both our country's interests that it be so, through trade and investment, educational exchanges, defence, security and of course we must cooperate very closely on the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, counter-terrorism, people smuggling and transnational crime.

LISA WILKINSON: Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop we know that you have a very busy agenda in Malaysia, we do appreciate your time very much this morning.

Thank you.

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