LISA WILKINSON I am joined by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Adelaide.
Good morning to you.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning, Lisa.
LISA WILKINSON Foreign Minister Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke with the Indonesian President overnight. Can you tell us what was said?
JULIE BISHOP Yes, Prime Minister Abbott telephoned President Widodo yesterday afternoon and spoke with him about the missing airline. He expressed our support. He offered assistance for the search and rescue. Indeed, there is an RAAF P3 Orion on standby should it be needed and of course he passed on the thoughts and prayers of the Australian people.
Likewise earlier I had spoken to Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and expressed very similar sentiments and said that Australia was ready to support and assist Indonesia in any way. I know Foreign Minister from the MH17 days because she was Indonesia's Ambassador to the Netherlands when Indonesia lost 12 people on board MH17 so we were speaking again about the possibility of Indonesians being lost on an aeroplane. But the search-and- rescue operation is still continuing and Australia stands ready to support an international effort should that be needed.
LISA WILKINSON I know you were waiting for the manifests. Have you had any further word on whether there are any dual nationals or Australian residents amongst those on board?
JULIE BISHOP We understand that there are no Australian citizens on board. We are looking for details of any potential dual nationals or permanent residents or any linkages with Australia but at this stage we don't have that detail, but we are accessing the manifest from the authorities.
LISA WILKINSON This as you would know is yet another plane lost in mysterious circumstances. There were reports earlier this month from a former airline boss that the US could have shot down MH370 that went missing over the Indian Ocean. What is your take on that?
JULIE BISHOP There is no evidence to suggest that that theory has any substance at all. This is just speculation. What we need to do is find the wreckage of MH370 and that is still under way. Of course, we are still continuing to search, or the international community is still continuing to search, for this AirAsia flight. I know that Singapore, Malaysia, India, Australia, and a number of countries have agreed to be part of the international search effort. So until the plane is located any theories about MH370 or any theories about this AirAsia flight are just speculation.
LISA WILKINSON This of course happens in the same year as the MH17 tragedy you mentioned just before. You said back in July to the families of those lost on the flight that was brought down over the Ukraine that they must have justice. Is there a time line on this?
JULIE BISHOP The investigation into MH17 and the causes of it is well under way. It is being carried out by the Dutch authorities. You will recall that that was the substance of the UN Security Council resolution that Australia authored and was passed unanimously, that we wanted the Dutch authorities to lead the investigation because of the controversy with Russia over Ukraine who would normally have led the investigation. And it is under way. The wreckage of MH17 has been taken from the site in eastern Ukraine back to the Netherlands and I understand they are seeking to reassemble the plane as far as possible so they can determine once and for all what happened. Then of course the next question is to determine who shot the plane down and that is something that will take some time, I believe, but the investigation is still under way
LISA WILKINSON Alright, finally this morning a Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper reveals that male voters have turned their back on the Prime Minister and female support for the PM has now dropped to its lowest in 18 years. I'm wondering why do you believe voters have lost so much faith in the Prime Minister?
JULIE BISHOP I believe that we have had to take some very tough decisions since the election, and we have, and they are not always popular. But we are seeking to do the best for Australia. We are acting in Australia's national interest in trying to repair the budget. It has been a difficult time for us but we are determined to repair the budget, get Australia back on track, grow our economy, make Australia one of the most attractive places to do business and to invest. So I am hoping over time that we will be able to make that known to the Australian people, that everything we do is in their interests, in the national interest, to make this a better country in which we can live and work.
LISA WILKINSON Last week I asked the Prime Minister what his greatest achievement was as the Minister for Women - he said abolishing the carbon tax which did surprise a few people. What do you think is his greatest achievement for women?
JULIE BISHOP I think the Prime Minister mentioned a number of things. He not only mentioned the carbon tax but went on to list a number of different issues. I think one of the most important things we can do is repair the budget and put Australia on a strong economic footing so that Australian women can realise their potential, can have the opportunity to have a job if they wish and I think that's really important - for all Australians- to provide the opportunity for people to fulfil their potential, fulfil their ambitions, whether it is a part-time job, whether it is a stay-at-home mum, whether it is working full time. We need to provide opportunities and that is what this government is all about. I obviously have a number of areas in foreign policy that I would like to point to as being positive for women - the appointment of an Ambassador for Women and Girls, the work that we are doing in gender equality in the Pacific, but in terms of Australia, it is focusing on jobs and opportunity.
LISA WILKINSON Do you think just finally, do you think somebody else would be better placed to be the Minister for Women other than the Prime Minister given his lowest polling is with women?
JULIE BISHOP The Prime Minister has chosen to take that portfolio and I think it is important to have it in the office of the Prime Minister. It reflects the significance that we attach to women's issues and of course women's issues are issues for the community generally. So the fact that it is held in the highest office in the land I think is a positive.
LISA WILKINSON Okay, Foreign Minister we will have to leave it there. Thanks very much for your time this morning.
JULIE BISHOP Thank you, Lisa.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555