JOURNALIST My next guest might have a point of view on this. The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us right now, Ms Bishop good afternoon.
JULIE BISHOP Good afternoon, good to be with you.
JOURNALIST Now just quickly, there’s a billboard that has gone up in Melbourne which compares apartheid-era South Africa to Israel and it says ‘Free Palestine’. Do you think it is legitimate to compare Israel to South Africa pre-1994?
JULIE BISHOP No, not at all. Israel has a right to defend itself against the rocket attacks from Hamas out of Gaza. What we hope for is a ceasefire that is permanent and will enable a two-state solution to occur, that is, the Israeli people and the Palestinian people living side-by-side behind internationally recognised boundaries.
JOURNALIST Do you think that will really happen though because we’ve been talking about this since 1948 to be honest?
JULIE BISHOP Well, of course we should never give up hoping for a much better outcome and I remain committed to a two state solution and hope with a permanent ceasefire between Hamas and Israel we can focus on the negotiations that will achieve this.
JOURNALIST If we move to another troubled part of the Middle East, Iraq, of course the whole world has been shocked by the apparent decapitation of US journalist James Foley by an Islamic man who had what appears to be a British or English accent. I mean I know it’s a terrible thing to have happened but does this somehow justify further involvement in Iraq?
JULIE BISHOP Well, it’s an outrageous and brutal killing and it further underscores the serious threat posed by this group and the need for concerted international action. I’m deeply concerned about reports of new ISIL atrocities in Iraq and Syria; the murders and kidnapping of people including minorities is just outrageous and it must be condemned. I do welcome reports of Iraqi and Kurdish forces and their operations against ISIL including with US air support particularly in the Mosul Dam area and elsewhere but support by the international community to help those affected by the violence are important. Australia has contributed to the international air drop effort in northern Iraq and we have provided funding for assistance, humanitarian assistance.
JOURNALIST We’re not going to put boots back on the ground though are we?
JULIE BISHOP No we’re not even envisaging combat troops, what we’re doing is focusing on the humanitarian effort and we are working in our own way to prevent young Australians becoming radicalised and attracted to the fighting inSyria and Iraq so that we don’t add to the violence through the actions of Australian citizens.
JOURNALIST Now speaking of radical Australians, what about what Clive Palmer had to say on ABC television on Monday night. He referred to China or the Chinese people, or possibly the Chinese Government as being ‘mongrels’ and ‘bastards’, people who ‘shoot their own’ and ‘don’t pay their bills’. Has that made your job, I don’t know how we put it, interesting in the past couple of days?
JULIE BISHOP Not interesting, it has been very challenging to assure the Chinese Embassy and through them the Chinese people that Australians are not normally discourteous people, we are naturally courteous people, and we should always aim to treat our trading partners, our neighbours, in fact all nations with whom we have friendly relations and want to have friendly relations with common courtesy and so I don’t agree with hurling insults at anyone, let alone a nation with whom we have a strong and strategic partnership.
JOURNALIST Clive Palmer said on this program yesterday, he said that you should focus much more on Australia’s interests and not worry about what the Chinese think. What’s your reaction to that?
JULIE BISHOP I am focusing on Australia’s interests and it is in Australia’s interests to have positive relationships with trading partners. We are a trading nation, that’s how we have the standard of living we do in this country. We exchange our goods and services with countries that are prepared to buy them and that includes China. So it’s nonsense to suggest that you can insult another country and still expect them to trade with us. So we are working very hard to continue strong and friendly relations with all countries in our region because we want to live in peaceful and prosperous, safe and secure region, and that doesn’t mean hurling insults at people. It means building bridges and working to maintain friendly, positive relations that are in our interests.
JOURNALIST Ms Bishop, coming closer to our neck of the woods now, I understand there is a code of conduct agreement that is being negotiated with Indonesia right now about spying and surveillance. Will you be going to Jakarta soon to sign that with the Government there?
JULIE BISHOP We inherited a number of issues from the previous Labor Government in relation to Indonesia and we have been working very hard to resolve those issues and one related to the so-called Snowden allegations and Dr Natalegawa, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, and I have been working through those issues for some time, methodically, purposefully, and we have now come to agreement on the text of a Joint Understanding. We are currently coordinating diary schedules so that we can meet to sign off on this agreement. In short it is a concise statement of our commitment to respect each other’s sovereignty and not to harm each other’s interests. So it is a very positive step in what is a very strong bilateral relationship in any event.
JOURNALIST Julie Bishop I know you are a very busy person, I do appreciate your time.
JULIE BISHOP It has been my pleasure, thanks Tom.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555