Today Show interview with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Natalie Hensby on the Smartraveller campaign

Subjects: Smartraveler campaign and travel insurance, China and Indonesia.

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

28 November 2013

KARL STEFANOVIC: The Australian Government has released a new advertisement encouraging people to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and invest in insurance when they travel.

For more, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and face of the new Smart Traveller campaign Natalie Hensby join us now. Thank you for your time ladies. We'll start with the Foreign Minister if we can, just a couple of news items to cover before we get into the Smart Traveller. First of all Julie, in regards to your comments about China placing an air defence zone over space in the East China Sea, can you clarify your view on that please for us this morning?

JULIE BISHOP: Australia has a stake in ensuring peace and stability in the region and its long standing Australian policy to oppose any action on the part of any country that could increase tensions in the area over disputed territories. And we're joining with other countries in expressing our concern about China's unilateral action in announcing an air defence identification zone without warning and without consultation.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Have you overstepped the mark with China?

JULIE BISHOP: No not at all. It's usual for Australia to express its concerns over matters such as this. We called the Chinese Ambassador to Australia in and expressed our concerns, and I've done so publicly, and I expect to discuss the matter with Beijing when I travel there shortly. But it is long-standing Australian policy to try and maintain peace and stability in these contested areas.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Moving on, is everything sweet with Indonesia now?

JULIE BISHOP: We are on the road to setting up a framework so that we can discuss this issue. I believe that the tone of President Yudhoyono's letter back to Prime Minister Abbott was warm, it was encouraging and I look forward to continuing to build on the Australia-Indonesia relationship. It's a very important relationship for both our countries

KARL STEFANOVIC: Just to clarify, are you going to be meeting with anyone over there or is it going to be handled differently and will we sign a deal on a code of ethics?

JULIE BISHOP: We're still in early negotiations at this stage and we're waiting to determine those issues.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay. To attacks on Australians in Indonesia, an attack on our embassy in Indonesia, we will keep an eye on them won't we?

JULIE BISHOP: Of course. We have a very professional consular support in both Indonesia, in Bali and in the region generally and if anyone has any concerns they should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or contact our embassy in Jakarta.

KARL STEFANOVIC: When I say keep an eye on them I mean the Indonesian Government, we're going to continue doing that?

JULIE BISHOP: We are in the process of negotiating with Indonesia and otherwise I don't discuss any intelligence matters.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Alright. All of these things are for travellers under the issue that you're on today and appreciate you being on - travellers do need to be aware when they're travelling to these countries about tensions, about things that are going on inside that country and they need to register to make it easier don't they?

JULIE BISHOP: Well the Australian Government recognises that millions of Australians travel overseas every year. About half the Australian population has a passport so we're great travellers, but we want to ensure that Australians are able to travel safely and come home safely, so we recommend that they register their overseas travel plans with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the Smart Traveller website, they take out travel insurance and that they keep in touch with family and friends at home while they're away.

KARL STEFANOVIC: It's good advice. Natalie I'll bring you in there because you have firsthand experience here. What happened to you in Thailand if you could tell everyone at home?

NATALIE HENSBY: Sure Karl. It was June 2010 and I was on holiday with three girlfriends, we were on a speed boat on our way to a full moon party on Koh Phangan when we collided head on at full speed with another boat. On impact I was knocked unconscious and thrown into the water. I sustained head to toe injuries. I had a brain haemorrhage, a punctured and collapsed lung, shattered pelvis, wrist, five broken ribs, two broken collarbones, broken foot. I spent four weeks in hospital in Thailand, and thankfully one of my friends I was travelling with had registered our details with Smartraveller and therefore DFAT were able to contact our travel insurance company immediately following the accident and our friends and family back home. They were then able to arrange for us to be medivacced out of Koh Samui up to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, a large international hospital where the four of us were able to receive the best treatment available in the area.

KARL STEFANOVIC: So what would have happened - I mean just quickly before we go, what would have happened, I mean you're lucky to be alive obviously, but what would have happened if you don't have all of that ready?

NATALIE HENSBY: I hate to think where I'd be today. I honestly believe the support I received from DFAT and my travel insurance company was to me the difference between life and death. My medical bill alone was over $100,000. Yeah, I don't like to think where I'd be financially and more important, yeah my health and...

KARL STEFANOVIC: Thanks Natalie for sharing that story. It's so important for people to do this. Before we go, Julie have you got travel insurance for your trip to China?

JULIE BISHOP: Absolutely. I take travel insurance out every time I go away Karl and I also check Smartraveller.gov.au.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Good on you. Thank you Foreign Minister and thanks Natalie, appreciate your time today.

- Ends -

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