Triple M The Hot Breakfast - interview with Eddie Mcguire, Mick Molloy and Luke Darcy
JOURNALIST: The ForeignMinister Julie Bishop has been good enough to call through. Julie, appreciateyour time as always. Can you give us an update on Australia's involvement inMosul at the moment?
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Eddie, Mick,Luke – good to be with you. Look our strategy in Iraq is clear. We aresupporting the Government of Iraq to address the ISIL terrorist threat throughour training, support and air operations, and we are continuing to seek apolitical solution to the crisis but we are responding to the pressinghumanitarian needs generated by the conflicts including the Mosul offensive. Sowe have been supporting and training and advising the Iraqi security forces sothat they can take back the territory that was claimed by the terrorists inMosul about two years ago as part of this Islamic Caliphate. Already ISIL haslost about 50 per cent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and when theMosul offensive is completed, then the Iraqi Government will be virtually incontrol of all of Iraq once more.
JOURNALIST: Julie, I'mnot being silly here or anything but can you remind us again what ISIL arefighting for and where they are because it seems…are they running out of steam,is probably what I'm putting to you? Has their intent, has it sort ofdissipated, are people starting to even tire of it over there?
JULIE BISHOP: I think that's right,Eddie. About two years ago this terrorist organisation proclaimed a caliphate,that is a kind of state, an Islamic state, over parts of Iraq and Syria and theoperation to liberate the city of Mosul is designed to take back that territoryaround Mosul, which is in Iraq, from ISIL and that will be an importantmilestone in the campaign to defeat ISIL. So freeing Mosul from ISIL's controlwill not only liberate its people from the terrorist group's brutality andabuses but it will mean the loss of ISIL's last major stronghold in Iraq. Itdoesn't mean that that is the end of the terrorist organisation's activities byany means, and this campaign is likely to take some time. But our concern isalso that foreign terrorist fighters who went to Iraq to support the terroristorganisation will now seek to leave and come back home, some to Australia andothers to our region, and we have to ensure that we can track them, that weknow where they are and that if they have committed offences that they can bearrested and detained.
JOURNALIST: Julie, can Ispeak about the humanitarian concerns? Up to 1.5 million people live in Mosul –and reading today there are concerns that up to 700,000 or more of those regoing to flee, and the capacity for the UN and other agencies to try andsupport that is almost non-existent. Can you give us an insight into how thatmight play out because just seeing the images are absolutely devastating of thefamilies having to flee?
JULIE BISHOP: The humanitarianoperation in Mosul is highly complex. We are obviously working very closelywith UN agencies and the like and monitoring the situation and engaging withother donors and humanitarian partners. Yesterday I announced that we wouldprovide an additional $10 million in humanitarian assistance for Iraq. Thiscontribution will specifically provide emergency food and medical assistanceand temporary shelter to help meet the needs of Iraqis who are displaced orimpacted by the Mosul operation, and we are particularly supporting women andgirls who are at the greatest risk of hardship. This will bring ourhumanitarian assistance to a total of about $70 million since ISIL advancedinto Iraq about two years ago, and this assistance has helped deliver food toabout one million people each month andshelter to almost one and a half million displaced Iraqis and health servicesfor over 200,000 women. So Australia is playing its part but in the taking backof Mosul, this Mosul offensive, there will invariably, inevitably be increasedhumanitarian needs and Australia and other donors and other partners arestepping up to provide that assistance.
JOURNALIST: Julie I haveto ask you the obvious question, does that put Australia and Australians in theline of fire with this battle against ISIL?
JULIE BISHOP: What we are doing issupporting the Iraqi security forces. We do have Special Forces involved butour role has been to train them so that they can be the force that takes backtheir country. I think it is very important to remember that we are in Iraq atthe invitation and with consent of the Iraqi Government, to help them build upthe capability and capacity of their security forces to take control of thecountry and keep the Iraqi people safe. But this will be a long campaign, it'sa very complex situation and we are doing what we can to support the IraqiGovernment to be in control of the country.
JOURNALIST: Julie, can wejust quickly before we let you go, get an update on the Crown employees who arebeing detained in China at the moment? And maybe quickly Wayne Gardner and hisson who find themselves in a Japanese gaol at the moment? Can you give us someinformation on both of those situations?
JULIE BISHOP: Yes, yesterday ourconsular officials visited two of the three Crown employees, the Australianemployees who have been detained in Shanghai. So we will continue to provideconsular assistance through visits and in accordance with the consularagreement we have with China. We were able to ascertain that they are in goodhealth, that they are being treated well – well adequately in a detentioncentre. But under Chinese law, it can be up to 30 days before an investigationis completed and charges are or are not laid as the case may be, and that periodcan be extended. So it could be some time before we know the details. In themeantime there is a third Australian, there are some questions about whetherthey entered on an Australian or a Chinese passport and as soon as that hasbeen clarified we will seek to carry out a consular visit to them as well. Sowe are keeping the families informed but at this stage all we can do is pursueconsular visits.
JOURNALIST: And finally,Julie…
JULIE BISHOP: And in relation to WayneGardner…
JULIE BISHOP: He and his son have beendetained in gaol in Tokyo over a road incident. We don't have details, althoughI know certain details are being reported, and we are providing consularsupport. We have visited him and, again, we are ascertaining that he is in goodhealth, but the specific details of what he is alleged to have done, or hisson, are still to be confirmed.
JOURNALIST: Julie, asalways we are very appreciative of your time. A lot happening in the world andI know that you're at the forefront of Australia's efforts. Thanks a lot. JulieBishop, the Foreign Minister, dialling into Triple M's Hot Breakfast as shedoes regularly.