JOURNALIST Any development on Australians being able to evacuate Ebola victims?

JULIE BISHOP We have been working with other governments to see if we can gain the capability to treat and evacuate any Australian health workers who would be sent to West Africa but at this stage we’ve not been able to receive any guarantees.

What surprised me was that yesterday Bill Shorten all but called on the government to send Australian health workers into West Africa without treatment or evacuation capability. Now that is indeed reckless for Bill Shorten to suggest that. In fact Mr Shorten and Ms Plibersek have both received briefings from senior officials from the Defence Department and the Health Department and they both know that Australia currently doesn’t have the capability to treat and evacuate back to Australia health workers.

So knowing what they do from senior officials they’ve gone out and recklessly suggested that the Australian Government should send in health workers without a credible evacuation plan and without the capability to treat and evacuate health workers. And Mr Shorten should retract his statement about that and act responsibly, as the Government works with other countries to see if we can put in place that capability.

JOURNALIST The video of an Australian man fighting in Syria has that been analysed and has he been identified yet?

JULIE BISHOP Well that’s a matter for our security and intelligence agencies.

JOURNALIST Do you support banning Hizb ut-Tahrir?

JULIE BISHOP What I believe we should do is implement this legislative change which makes promoting terrorism an offence. I’m a believer in free speech but there has to be a balance and we have to ensure that people don’t go around promoting murderous violence in response to some sort of sense of injustice. If people want to promote violence and want to seek to poison the minds of particularly young people and make them take up radical extremist activities then that should be considered an offence and that’s why we are seeking to add the promotion of terrorism as an offence under our criminal laws.

JOURNALIST Are we making headway in Iraq and what is next?

JULIE BISHOP I believe so. There have been numerous air strikes targeting and identifying ISIL vehicles, personnel, infrastructure. Australia is part of a coalition that is seeking to disrupt and ultimately destroy ISIL but it will take quite some time because ISIL is a guerrilla force. It’s now embedding its forces within urban areas and of course seeking to make it even more difficult to be targeted but it will take some time.

JOURNALIST Are our Special Forces on the ground yet?

JULIE BISHOP No.

JOURNALIST And the front page of the Herald Sun. Your reaction to this asbestos story with more than a dozen people killed or dying because of asbestos related health issues out of a factory in Sunshine North?

JULIE BISHOP Well these matters obviously should be investigated immediately by the appropriate authorities.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555