Today Show, Sydney - interview with Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson and Sylvia Jeffreys

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST Well, she is powerful, confident, diplomatic and knows how to rock an Armani blazer.

JOURNALIST Yes, she is our country's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has a gruelling job, so how does she do it? She is going to join us now to answer some questions. Good morning to you, Foreign Minister.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning.

JOURNALIST Nice to see you.



JOURNALIST I know you have a long day and I know you get up very early. Just tell everybody what time you got up this morning and what you have done since you got up?

JULIE BISHOP I started the day at about 5:00am, and that's scanning international and national newspapers and then I had a long conversation with the Prime Minister, and then I came here and I've made about 12 phone calls in between time.

JOURNALIST You haven't gone for a run this morning?

JULIE BISHOP No, I didn't this morning but I would normally start the day with a run.

JOURNALIST How far do you run?

JULIE BISHOP About 6 ks day-to-day, about 10 on the weekend if I'm home, and I try to run wherever I am around the world because I have to fight jet lag, but I find it doesn't matter if I get into a city at 2:00am or 10:00pm, I will go for a run at the next morning at 5:30/6:00am to set the body clock.

JOURNALIST Do you have a favourite track around the world, a favourite city to run around?

JULIE BISHOP I have run in so many cities around the world with my AFP detail. Around volcanos, through the streets in Tokyo, through the Mall in Washington, but it is also a way to get to know the city. I feel the vibe of a city. I remember once in Mumbai, we got up at about 5:30am and there were literally millions of people in the street. I knew it was crowded and then I found that it was Sachin Tendulkar's last test match so the entire city was out to see him, whereas I thought that is what it was like at 6 o'clock in the morning. That was a very slow run.

JOURNALIST I've often thought about this and I think you're doing an amazing job, a difficult job, balancing all of that, the foreign affairs element of it with the politics of Australia. You having to obviously keep in touch with Malcolm Turnbull and talk to Malcolm Turnbull all the time but also to be so across so many different issues around the world. Is that a hard balance?

JULIE BISHOP Foreign policy in Australia is generally pretty non-partisan. Domestic politics don't come into it. It happens from time to time, but we take an Australia-first approach when we are overseas, and so that means I can put Australia's position consistently around the world.

JOURNALIST I just mean in terms of - I know that I could ask you a question now about Malcolm Turnbull and the fact that they are saying he is doing nothing but then easily slip into...

JULIE BISHOP I would take issue with that immediately! But I am the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party so I also have a domestic political role of course and I'm a local Member of Parliament. So yes, I'm across domestic, national issues as well as international issues.

JOURNALIST So Malcolm is in a muddle and not doing anything wrong?

JULIE BISHOP Absolutely wrong. Malcolm is focussed, he has a reform agenda. He has had a few issues with ministerial reshuffles but we now have a new team with Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash, and Malcolm with lead us to the election with a fantastic agenda.

JOURNALIST So even though Barnaby got rid of Malcolm last time around, was very instrumental in getting him dumped as Leader, do you think they are going to get on OK?

JULIE BISHOP They get along just fine. I see them every morning at leadership meetings. They have a respect for each other and it's a lot of fun.

JOURNALIST It's not boring.

JULIE BISHOP It certainly is not boring. You can say a lot of things about my dear friend Barnaby but he is not boring.

JOURNALIST Then we can transition to Syria. That is what your job is like.

JULIE BISHOP It is. There are some exceedingly challenging and difficult issues for us to deal with and Australia is a significant voice on the world stage and our views are sought after. We attend many meetings and conferences around the world and put forward the global view as Australia sees it and, of course, I'm always acting in Australia's national interest.

JOURNALIST No doubt you are watching the primaries very closely in the United States at the moment. Do you have any feelings or thoughts on perhaps working very closely with Donald Trump?

JULIE BISHOP This will be one of the most fascinating presidential elections in some time. I was in Washington recently and that's all they are talking about: who is likely to be the Republican candidate; who is likely to be the Democrat candidate and it is such a rich field, literally in some instances! It's a very diverse field and I think that it will make fascinating viewing for quite some time yet.

JOURNALIST Have you worked out any strategies on if Donald Trump does get there, how you deal with someone like that?

JULIE BISHOP We work with whomever the American people choose. There have been some very interesting characters in the White House, but the White House Administration always works well with the Canberra Administration. Whomever is in government in Australia works well with whomever is in government in the US.

JOURNALIST You have to clean up a lot of mess as well as Foreign Minister. And I cite particularly the fascinating footage of you with Vladimir Putin over that whole mess of the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatening to shirt front Vladimir Putin. That's got to be awkward. What is Vlad like to deal with in situations like that?

JULIE BISHOP In that circumstance, I had an opportunity to meet him shortly after former Prime Minister Abbott had used the "shirt front" phrase and I know it had resonated in circles within the Kremlin and so I took the opportunity to what I described as "buttonhole" him, which is a little toned down from shirt fronting but we had about a 20 minute discussion. The first part of it was in English. He speaks very good English which I hadn't expected because I had always thought he spoke through an interpreter and he was very charming.


JULIE BISHOP Absolutely determined to put across his point of view, but he listened to me and we had a strong exchange of views, but he was very charming and I would say charismatic, in a way.

JOURNALIST Really? I saw that vision and to me, he looks like a close talker and he was staring at you.

JULIE BISHOP Oh yes. It was Zoolander!

JOURNALIST Bit of blue steel going on.

JULIE BISHOP Yes, fortunately I was able to hold the gaze. That's a staring contest.

JOURNALIST Because at any moment, the shirt could have come off. Talk about button holing.

JULIE BISHOP At that point, one of his interpreters saw that we were locked in a gazed in conversation and intervened and then he lapsed back into Russian and the conversation then went from there.

JOURNALIST So you won that? It is a bit like he blinked first?

JULIE BISHOP I don't think he ever blinks.

JOURNALIST He just wanted to say stuff that he didn't want Julie to understand. In terms of that, when you go to meet these different people, Lisa mentioned Donald Trump perhaps working with him, there is other leaders around like Vlad, also Kim Jong-Un, not that you get to meet him very often, that balancing act, there are some people that you get much better along with than others, Barack Obama for example, what is he like on a personal level?

JULIE BISHOP He is absolutely delightful. He is very informal, very relaxed, very comfortable in his own skin. He is the kind of guy that just starts chatting and there is not the formality that one might expect around the Presidency, and it is quite delightful. But you know that you've got finite time with the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, so you make every moment count, not only talking but listening and you do a lot of listening in my job because you need to pick up the sense of how leaders are feeling, what their views are and so a lot of what I do is to listen and absorb and pick up as much as I can.

JOURNALIST Do you think about life after politics and what you might do?

JULIE BISHOP I haven't been recently but is there something you know that I don't?

JOURNALIST No, I just thought...

JOURNALIST It sounded like you were hinting.

JOURNALIST Your own talk show?

JULIE BISHOP I see, I could be the female Karl Stefanovic. I could take over from Lisa.

JOURNALIST You would do better than me, let's face it.

JULIE BISHOP Sometimes I think it would be great to be the one asking the questions as opposed to answering.

JOURNALIST You ask away. Actually, no, let's not do that. It is a balancing act too because you are on with some of the world's most powerful people, away from diplomats and some of the celebrities as well. Is that a delicate balancing act for you? Is it part of the job?

JULIE BISHOP Australia has an immense talent pool that is working overseas. We have some of the most creative, innovative, enterprising people on the planet. And in this job, I do get to meet them from time to time in New York or Los Angeles or London or in the South Pacific. We have got some incredible designers and film stars and architects, you name it. I've made it part of my role to promote our creative industries and that includes our talent.

JOURNALIST You do do that very well and I know Sylvia and I have talked about how fabulous your wardrobe is, but we can't work out when you shop. When do you go shopping?

JULIE BISHOP I'm very determined in my shopping habits, I know exactly what I want and it will take me about two seconds to buy something. I remember walking in an airport once, we were racing for a plane and I saw a pair of shoes in the window and screamed, "Have you got it in 37 and a half?", they said "Yes", I was in with a credit card and I was on the plane before they even noticed I had deviated.

JOURNALIST Really quickly because we are running late, it has been a fascinating chat and I could talk to you all morning, our embassy staff do an enormous job. You would travel and visit with them all the time. They don't ever ask for anything in terms of recognition. You must be very proud of them?

JULIE BISHOP We have the most competent consular staff in the world. I am absolutely confident of that. And I know 'The Embassy' series on Channel Nine has shown some of the conditions that they work under, the dangerous and difficult situations but also some of the crazy things that they are asked to do. But they put the well-being and interests of Australians above anything else, and they really do an extraordinary job. I'm very proud of them all.

JOURNALIST Good on you.

JOURNALIST Well, for very good reason. The show, 'The Embassy' is coming up on the Nine Network. Do you have the time when it is going to be on?

JOURNALIST The time is 8:27.

JOURNALIST 8:30 Wednesday nights. We have just got Julie Bishop, you are fantastic and always saying yes whenever we ask you to come on the program. Sometimes at times when we figure you probably don't want to answer some questions.

JULIE BISHOP I'm honoured to be on your program, wherever I am in the world, if we can do it, I am always delighted to do it.

JOURNALIST We always appreciate it.


JOURNALIST It is going to be a busy year.

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