Triple J Hack - Interview with Tom Tilley

  • Transcript, E&OE

TOM TILLEY: Julie Bishop, thanks so much for joining us on Hack.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure, good to be with you.

TOM TILLEY: I believe you have some travel advice for us?

JULIE BISHOP: Well I am concerned about young Australians who are travelling overseas to undertake volunteer work in orphanages. We are warning young Australians that they must do their homework because there is a racket going on in South-East Asia - it's called 'Orphanage Tourism'. What's happening, according to research, is that Australian volunteers are paying money, in some cases up to $2,000 a week to work in these orphanages and institutions, but in fact, a number of them are shams, and our young people are unwittingly or unknowingly contributing to what amounts to human trafficking or child exploitation. We have launched a campaign, a Smart Volunteering Campaign. Of course we want to encourage people to volunteer but we are taking steps to raise awareness of this issue of volunteer tourism and what can happen if you undertake short-term, unskilled volunteering in orphanages.

TOM TILLEY: Are there particular countries that you're really concerned about?

JULIE BISHOP: We are focussing on South-East Asia but the research shows that in Cambodia, the number of residential care institutions for children rose by about 75 per cent over a 5-year period, but the number of genuine orphans is decreasing. It seems that because volunteers and tourists want to visit orphanages, they were meeting demand by taking children from families, in some instances kidnapping, in some instances the children were sold. This orphanage industry has grown to about a $2.5 billion a year industry around the world. Most of the children living in this type of care in Cambodia are not orphans, nor abandoned according to UNICEF.

TOM TILLEY: So, should we not go to these orphanages at all, or should we go to them if we do our research as either tourists or volunteers?

JULIE BISHOP: What we need to do is ensure that people do their homework and look into the details of the actual orphanage they are wanting to visit. We can provide advice from DFAT – from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – but our campaign is to raise awareness about this. We're writing to schools and universities and state government education ministers. We want to encourage Australians to be an informed volunteer - they should avoid these short-term unskilled volunteering opportunities in orphanages; to be a child-safe volunteer, that is, to avoid any activity where children are promoted as tourist attractions and the like; be better prepared - do your homework to ensure you're actually making a positive impact in the local community and it is a genuine orphanage.

TOM TILLEY: Are you, as the Government, going to stop funding these orphanages?

JULIE BISHOP: What we're doing is raising public awareness. We certainly do not fund them. We are doing all we can to ensure that the Australian aid program, while it supports orphanages overseas, we certainly do not support any orphanages that would breach the United Nations guidelines.

TOM TILLEY: Julie Bishop, I want to get to two other topics quite quickly – one is the issue of Michaelia Cash. She is in the Government's Cabinet. She's a colleague of yours. There is concerns about threats she made yesterday to some of Bill Shorten's staffers. She said there were rumours that essentially they were sleeping with the boss. Do you think she should apologise for those comments?

JULIE BISHOP: The process in Parliament is when comments are made that shouldn't have been made, Members and Senators are asked to withdraw and that's the process. Senator Cash has withdrawn the comment and I believe that was appropriate.

TOM TILLEY: Does it go far enough?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe she's done what she's been required to do within the Parliamentary procedures. Members and Senators are required to withdraw inappropriate comments and she has withdrawn them.

JOURNALIST: Okay Minister Bishop, there is a story about you in the newspapers today – there is criticism that your boyfriend has received tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funded travel under your travel allowance but you haven't declared his financial interests on the register. Do you think it passes the pub test when it comes to receiving taxpayer funded travel that: 'Yep, he's with me', but when it comes to accountability, registering financial interests that: 'No, he's not my spouse'?

JULIE BISHOP: Tom, I'm absolutely 100 per cent compliant with the rules. I adhere to the Parliamentary rules, which are called the Register of Interests.

TOM TILLEY: But Bronwyn Bishop was playing by the rules and it didn't turn out well for her because it didn't pass the pub test with the public – are you worried about that?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm absolutely 100 per cent compliant with the rules.

TOM TILLEY: Julie Bishop, great to have you on the show. Thanks so much for making time for us.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure. Thanks Tom.

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