JULIE BISHOP: It is vital for any Australians travelling overseas to check the travel advisories that are provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This is a free service on www.smartraveller.gov.au and this will provide updated travel advice for countries around the world.
We think it is essential that people receive the regular updates and they can register so that they receive them automatically. In the case of Indonesia the threat level remains high and people are advised to exercise high degree of caution if they're travelling there. The travel advisory has been updated to reflect the fact that the United States has some information that there could be an attack in Surabaya against US interests.
In the case of India, our travel advisory has also been updated to reflect the fact that there is information that there is a potential for a terrorist attack in Mumbai. Again, Australians are being advised to exercise a high degree of caution.
JOURNALIST: I mean how seriously is Australia taking these warnings?
JULIE BISHOP: We take our travel advisories very seriously and we ask travellers to log on and read the travel advisories and to act on that advice. There is a range of information on the travel advisories including taking up travel insurance. For example if there is a medical emergency or people need health or medical treatment then the travel insurance can cover that so we recommend that people take up travel insurance.
We also recommend that people be aware of the laws of the country that they're travelling in, generally speaking, because they will be subject to the laws of that country and there is a limit to what the Australian Government can do should somebody end up in the legal system of another country.
JOURNALIST: Is there any indication that warnings in these two countries are linked in any way?
JULIE BISHOP: No, the point that we're making is that terrorism can occur anywhere and at any time and in Indonesia, as in the case in Australia, there are a number of people who are supporting or fighting with ISIL in Syria and Iraq. We have that same issue so we are working closely with the Indonesian Government to counter this terrorism activity of those who would seek to be a security risk for Indonesia, for Australia. So we are working with a number of other countries to seek to counter the terrorist activities of those who are supporting ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
JOURNALIST: Just on Peter Greste, his family is saying that his deportation could be another step closer. Do you have any information on that?
JULIE BISHOP: After Peter Greste's appeal was upheld and the conviction was overturned, he has a number of options available to him that he didn't have available to him when he was first detained. The law in Egypt has changed recently. It's rather sketchy but it involves a prisoner transfer or some form of arrangement between two countries whereby he could come back to Australia. I understand his family have submitted a request for a transfer back to Australia.
We will continue to engage at the highest possible levels with the Egyptian Government. We're engaging politically, diplomatically through the legal channels, through bureaucratic channels to see if we can get Peter Greste home as soon as possible.
JOURNALIST: Because his colleague, who is a Canadian citizen, it sounds like they're in sort of high-level negotiations at the moment, something imminent for him as well.
JULIE BISHOP: It sounds like a very similar situation. Both the Foreign Minister of Canada and I have been making representations on behalf of our respective citizens and I have been engaged with the Foreign Minister of Egypt for quite some time. I spoke to him in mid-December. I'm seeking to speak with him again and we're both, Canada and Australia, seeking to get our citizens home as soon as possible.
JOURNALIST: Any idea when that might be?
JULIE BISHOP: I can't give an idea at this stage but we're certainly engaged on a daily basis with the Egyptian Government at the highest levels.
JOURNALIST: Just in regards to GST, can I ask you what you think about the GST being broadened?
JULIE BISHOP: The issue of the GST will be part of the white paper process. In other words, there's a review into our taxation system under way and our aim is to make our taxation system better, fairer, simpler and that's what the review is all about. People are free to make a submission on the GST, on any aspect of the GST, but they must understand that the GST can only be changed with the unanimous support of every State and every Territory and it would have to have political consensus at a federal level.
JOURNALIST: Do you support the MPs that have suggested this?
JULIE BISHOP: I certainly support MPs putting forward ideas. We should have a constructive and mature debate about our taxation system and that would include the GST.
JULIE BISHOP: Senator Ian McDonald says the Government already has a mandate to broaden the GST as a result of the 1998 election, do you agree with that?
JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister made it clear that there would be no changes to the GST in this term of government and that remains the case.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
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