JOURNALIST Are you able to shed any more light on the interception of seven people, suspected jihadists?
JULIE BISHOP I’m not able to go into the detail because obviously the suspension of passports means that investigations, surveillance is ongoing but I can confirm that there was an incident at Sydney airport on the 12th of August. We are determined to prevent Australian citizens, particularly young Australians, from being lured to the conflict in the Middle East, in Iraq and Syria, and taking up arms with one of the most brutal terrorist organisations the world has ever seen.
We have cancelled about 125 passports, we’ve suspended about 20 and I’ve refused to issue about 16. We hope then in this way Australian citizens aren’t then adding to the misery and suffering of the people of Iraq and Syria and nor are they putting their own lives in danger by going there, nor are they having the opportunity to become an experienced, hardened terrorist and trying to come back to this country and causing harm here.
JOURNALIST What does this show about Australia’s operations, the fact that these people were stopped at our borders?
JULIE BISHOP It shows that our efforts are working, that we are working in cooperation across our agencies – security, law enforcement, intelligence. We are also working very closely with other agencies in our region and the level of cooperation in South East Asia in particular is at a very high level, unprecedented level of cooperation.
JOURNALIST Minister, second day of Cabinet leaks. What do you say to your colleagues that are doing this?
JULIE BISHOP I didn’t understand them to be Cabinet leaks. I thought it was a set of talking points that goes to everybody in the Party Room so I’m thinking what would be a good thing is we just hand you the talking points in the morning and then I won’t have to do any interviews! You can just read the talking points.
JOURNALIST It goes to the heart of how non-substantial your government is, isn’t it?
JULIE BISHOP No it doesn’t Latika. What it shows is somebody is being mischievous by producing talking points that obviously amuse the media no end when somebody comes out and repeats one of the talking points.
JOURNALIST Why would somebody in your own team by so mischievous Ms Bishop?
JULIE BISHOP Well Ms Bourke, what I believe is going on is somebody is giving the journalists our morning talking points, and I suggest that the journalist who receives these talking points asks the motivation, because for the life of me I can’t understand why someone would do this on our side because all it does is play into the hands of the Labor Party. I see no useful purpose at all in this happening.
JOURNALIST Ms Bishop there is an agenda item on the agenda for the Liberal Party Conference in WA on the weekend calling for the party to oppose constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, or at least oppose putting wording that singles out a single ethnic group. Is that an agenda item likely to get up and is it something that you would support?
JULIE BISHOP I won’t pre-empt the machinations of a West Australian Liberal Party Conference. Heaven help anybody who did that but I think there will be a sensible and respectful debate about it. It is not a position that I would support but I think that the yes/no case on a referendum on indigenous recognition will tease out all of these issues and hopefully people will come to an informed view prior to any referendum on this issue.
JOURNALIST Minister, can I just ask on the China FTA? Do you have a problem with what Labor is requesting, that the pledge to have labour market testing on IFAs, do you have a problem with that being enshrined in legislation?
JULIE BISHOP Phil, as I understand it, the terminology in the FTA with China is perfectly adequate to address any concerns. In fact I was interested to see that former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr said that the FTA does not need to be rewritten to address their concerns.
JOURNALIST Is Labor saying that too? They are just saying that the sentiment should be locked in..
JULIE BISHOP But what we are doing in the Free Trade Agreement on the 457 visa holders is no different than what we do with 150 countries around the world and I really do think that Labor needs to distance itself from the disgraceful, dishonest campaign being waged by the union movement against China, and against a Free Trade Agreement with China which will result in more jobs for more Australians, more opportunities for Australian companies and individuals to sell their goods and services into one of the biggest consumer markets in the world. So Labor needs to stop sitting on the fence. It either backs the union’s dishonest, disgraceful anti-Chinese campaign, or it supports the Government’s Free Trade Agreement which will lead to more Australian jobs and more opportunities to grow our economy.
JOURNALIST Minister has next week’s Cabinet meeting been cancelled because you’ve got nothing to discuss?
JULIE BISHOP We’ve got plenty to discuss. You are a very cheeky journalist I’m going to have to have words with you! No, look, we obviously have Cabinet meetings from time to time but what happens is they are set at the beginning of the year. The dates for the Cabinet meeting was set at the beginning of the year and that doesn’t necessarily always align with where the Prime Minister or other ministers are going to be at any one time, but we always have plenty to discuss in our Cabinet meetings I can assure you.
JOURNALIST So it was cancelled for next week?
JULIE BISHOP I don’t believe there is a Cabinet meeting next week. I’m certainly going to be in the seat in Canning next week. I’ll be back in Western Australia so my understanding is that there is no Cabinet meeting next week but that’s not unusual when Parliament’s not sitting we don’t always have a Cabinet meeting because it would be bringing everybody back to Canberra. So we will hold a Cabinet meeting as we generally do every fortnight when Parliament’s not sitting.
JOURNALIST Do you personally support same sex marriage?
JULIE BISHOP I personally believe that the Australian people should have a say on this. I’ve just given an answer to Peter Van Onselen, and I’ve just given his show a free plug, that philosophically I’m a very liberal-minded person but I’m yet to see the detail of changes to the Marriage Act that would satisfy me that we should vote for it and I’ve been asking for this for some time of those who support same sex marriage. I want to know what implications there would be on religious institutions that didn’t wish to carry out same sex marriages, on individuals.
JOURNALIST Warren Entsch introduced his Bill though Minister.
JULIE BISHOP I saw it and it doesn’t answer the level of questions that I have about it. I’m a former lawyer and I’m a legislator and I take that role very seriously. So that’s why I think that we need a ‘yes’ case and a ‘no’ case so that all of the Australian people who wish to vote on this can consider the ramifications, the implications and make a considered judgment and it will be in the sanctity of the ballot box.
JOURNALIST How did you vote in 2012 on Steven Jones’s bill? Did you vote for or against it?
JULIE BISHOP I believe that I would have voted along the party lines on that one. I believe so. I think that was one where we had a government policy. What I find interesting in this entire debate though is we are going to bring to the Australian people a position that if you vote for the Coalition at the next election the Australian people will have their say on the issue of same sex marriage. Labor’s position is all over the shop. They are saying it will be a free-for-all for the next few years and then in 2019 it will be binding but they don’t say binding how – for or against. So if people want clarity around this issue, if they want to have their say on an issue as fundamental as the composition of Australian society and the family unit and same sex marriage, vote for the Coalition.
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