In The Zone conference - Doorstop

  • Transcript, E&OE
02 October 2017

JULIE BISHOP: I am delighted to be here in Perth at the In The Zone conference that is being hosted by the USAsia Centre here in Perth and the University of Western Australia. During the course of my address today I spoke of the importance of our oceans and our coral reefs and Australia is taking a leading role in the preservation, conservation and maintenance of our reefs including the Great Barrier Reef. In New York recently at the UN General Assembly Leaders Week I spoke about the practical steps we are taking to ensure that our Great Barrier Reef and other reefs including Ningaloo here in Western Australia are preserved for generations to come. As part of our commitment to this work I have announced today a $5 million Coral Reef Initiative and this will be a facility that will come up with some of the most innovative and creative ways ensuring our corals reefs are coral reefs which are such vital eco systems for our planet will thrive and survive. So I'm pleased that this will be a joint private and public sector partnership. We will be leading best practice management in the preservation of our coral reefs. I'm looking forward to hearing more at the discussions today at the In The Zone conference which since 2009 has been leading discussion on regional and global challenges. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Minister there was a Bali climate change issue will be expire soon. The (inaudible) Cohen conference will be soon, start. What do you think the Australia climate change policy will be going to change with America or still consistent with the deal?

JULIE BISHOP: As I confirmed at the UN General Assembly Leaders Week, Australia remains committed to our Paris Agreement targets. This will see a significant reduction in Australia's share of global emissions and we have in place a number of initiatives to ensure we meet our Paris Agreement targets. Australia is working with other nations in support of the Paris Agreement which is about ensuring we can have reduced greenhouse gas emissions globally but that each country can have an affordable and reliable energy strategy in place, as Australia does.

JOURNALIST: Minister Donald Trump has tweeted his Secretary of State is wasting his time negotiating with Kim Jong-un, what are your thoughts on that? Is he wasting his time?

JULIE BISHOP: North Korea has entered into negotiations regarding its missile nuclear weapons programs in the past. It has failed to honour any of those agreements. I believe President Trump is referring to the fact that North Korea has failed to live up to any of the agreements that have been negotiated in the past. However that shouldn't mean we should stop trying and I believe that Secretary Tillerson is seeking to find a resolution to the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea is in flagrant disregard in violations of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. Its ballistic missile tests and its nuclear weapons tests are illegal, they present a threat not only to our region but they are a global security risk. And Secretary Tillerson and others are engaged in a collective strategy, as am I on Australia's behalf, to put maximum political and diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to bring it back to the negotiating table.

JOURNALIST: Are those efforts being undermined by President Trump's antagonistic comments?

JULIE BISHOP: President Trump is referring, I believe, to the fact that North Korea has not been trusted in the past because it doesn't live up to its agreements. It has in the past agreed to have independent inspectors verify its programs and then it kicks the investigators out. He is referring to the pattern of conduct of North Korea in the past but I still believe that we must continue to find the political and diplomatic and economic means to pressure North Korea to bring it back to the negotiating table.

JOURNALIST: So is there method to President Trump's antagonistic comments?

JULIE BISHOP: I did say yesterday on ABC's Insiders program that as a result of the pressure that President Trump has put on China for example, we have now seen China play a very active role in implementing the economic sanctions. China has now been part of the toughest, most comprehensive package of sanctions ever mandated by the UN Security Council, in the past, particularly under the previous US Administration strategy of strategic patience, China said that this is an issue between Washington and Pyongyang. China is now playing a much more active role and I think that's in response to the President's focus on North Korea as being an issue that the region must resolve and most certainly the UN Security Council. All permanent five members of the Security Council, have a unique responsibility to play to ensure North Korea abides by those Security Council resolutions.

JOURNALIST: Minister, how big a chance do you think for North Korea to hold back from (inaudible) negotiations?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe that we must do all we can to seek to compel North Korea back to the negotiating table. It's in Australia's interest for there to be a resolution to this crisis. Three out of our four major trading partners are in North Asia. Any further nuclear tests threaten the security of the region and of course would be very much against our interests let alone the interests of the countries in the region. Australia is part of a collective strategy to maximise the pressure on North Korea to compel it back to the negotiating table and of course we want to deter it from carrying out any further illegal ballistic missile nuclear weapons tests.

JOURNALIST: Minister, another asylum seeker has died on Manus Island, what can you tell us about the state of (inaudible)?

JULIE BISHOP: I am aware of reports that a person has died in a PNG hospital. There will obviously be an investigation by the PNG authorities but I would suggest that PNG authorities speak on this matter. It's a matter for PNG, I have no further information.

JOURNALIST: And in regards to the remaining asylum seekers awaiting US vetting process, do you have any update on that?

JULIE BISHOP: I am aware that 54 refugees have been identified and have left Manus and Nauru for resettlement in the United States but I'm not aware of the specific details of the progress. I know that the United States is continuing to undertake its stringent vetting process in relation to those who are found to be refugees.

JOURNALIST: And can you explain to taxpayers why you think the AFL Grand Final is official ministerial business?

JULIE BISHOP: Senior political leaders are often invited to major events and we attend in our official capacity. I support the fact that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition attended the AFL Grand Final on Saturday in Melbourne and that they both attended the NRL Grand Final on Sunday in Sydney. The organisations invite politicians in our official capacity to show support for the game and to support the partnerships that exist between government and those sporting organisations.

JOURNALIST: Why didn't you go to the NRL Grand Final?

JULIE BISHOP: I was in Sydney for meetings and then I came here for this In The Zone conference which I had committed to for some time.

JOURNALIST: But you went to the AFL one because, and you said at the time, I think you said on the Insiders because it's an international event, the NRL is not so international that it doesn't demand your time?

JULIE BISHOP: They are both national events that attract international attention.

JOURNALIST: So why didn't you go?

JULIE BISHOP: Because I am in Perth at the In The Zone Conference which I committed to earlier this year.

JOURNALIST: It finished yesterday afternoon.

JULIE BISHOP: We have many competing demands on our time and as you well know it's a significant trip between Perth and the east coast and I had to be here this morning, I had a commitment to be at the In The Zone conference some time ago.

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