Today, Suva, Fiji - Interview with Karl Stefanovic

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST Let's go to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop from Fiji. Foreign Minister, good morning to you. Can we get your reaction to the terrible attacks in Turkey and the Ivory Coast?

JULIE BISHOP Australia condemns absolutely these terrorist attacks, and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those who have been killed. This morning I spoke to our Ambassador in Ankara, James Larsen, and he was actually situated right where the terrorist attack took place in Ankara. He was at the intersection in his car where this bomb went off and was about 20 metres away. So he was able to give me a firsthand description of the horror of what went on, and the impact in Ankara has been quite significant. A number of people were killed, the official number is about 27 but he estimates it will be more than that, and many people injured. So it really does bring it home to us that a terrorist attack can take place at anytime, anywhere, but we utterly condemn these barbaric attacks on civilian populations.

JOURNALIST So how was he and the diplomatic staff there? Awful things to see.

JULIE BISHOP It was an appalling thing for him to witness, being so close, but he's fine, all our Australian staff are fine. We are not aware of any foreigners being involved in the attack in Ankara, but the Turkish authorities are still investigating the details and to determine how many people have been killed in yet another brutal terrorist attack. And it reminds us why we are part of the Coalition to defeat terrorist organisations wherever they might be operating. We are currently operating in Iraq and into Syria, but these attacks are taking place elsewhere, as these violent terrorist organisations export their model of terrorism.

JOURNALIST It's also a reminder of the dangers in Turkey particularly, especially in the lead-up to Anzac Day for Australian travellers.

JULIE BISHOP We will be working very closely with the Turkish Government and the Turkish authorities to ensure that Australians travelling to Anzac Day, travelling to Gallipoli, will be as safe as possible, but of course the heightened security will make it very challenging for travellers, but we do encourage people to remain in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade so that we can give them the most up to date travel advice and it is on our website

JOURNALIST You are, of course, in Fiji this morning, pledging Australian support in the wake of the devastating Cyclone Winston. You have seen the devastation firsthand, really tough for them.

JULIE BISHOP Australia has made a significant and timely contribution to the disaster relief effort in Fiji. It was the strongest and toughest cyclone ever to make landfall in Fiji with winds of up to 325 km/h. So the devastation is pretty widespread. Yesterday we visited Koro Island which is north-east of Suva, and it has essentially been flattened, houses and trees and crops. We have a significant Australian Defence Force contingent there that have been providing food and shelter and water, but they have also been rebuilding the schools and we hope that the children will be able to return to school today. At least five of the six schools on the island had their roofs taken off, and we are working with the local authorities to ensure that we can return life to normal. But it is going to be a very long journey for the people of Fiji after such a devastating natural disaster.

JOURNALIST The team is over there doing great work and working long hours and trying to help them rebuild. It's a good thing. Another quick matter, two in fact. An ABC four corners team is facing criminal charges in Malaysia and have been barred from leaving. Things seem to be going from bad to worse in Malaysia.

JULIE BISHOP Well, these are matters that we are raising with the Malaysian authorities. Australia supports freedom of speech, we support the role of journalists in reporting the news around the world, and so we will do what we can to get to the bottom of this issue and make representations at the highest levels within the Malaysian Government.

JOURNALIST And finally Malcolm Turnbull has got some dramas back home as preferred leader, his numbers are going down. Barnaby Joyce has problems in his electorate. Are you starting to get nervous or are you okay?

JULIE BISHOP I think Barnaby Joyce will relish the opportunity to remind the people of New England that Tony Windsor, even though he didn't face the public last time, if he wants to face the public this time, the people of New England will be reminded that he was part of supporting the Rudd- Gillard-Rudd Government that brought us the carbon tax and mining tax and banned live cattle exports to Indonesia and trashed the budget. I'm sure Barnaby will relish the opportunity to remind the people of New England of Tony's record. As for Malcolm, he is working assiduously to help Scott Morrison put together a budget when we will be setting out an economic framework for the future. Malcolm is full of optimism and I think young people really relate to his message of transition from the mining and resource sector to a new economy that will allow us to unleash the innovation and creative talent of all Australians.

JOURNALIST All right, wearing a lot of hats again this morning. We appreciate your time and to all of our crews working over there to help rebuild Fiji, good luck with it and thank you for your time this morning on a busy morning.

JULIE BISHOP They are doing a great job. We should be very proud of our Australian Defence Force.

JOURNALIST Indeed we are. Thank you Foreign Minister.

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