JOURNALIST [Audio missing]
JULIE BISHOP Australia has a very good opportunity to promote our record and to campaign effectively for a seat on the Human Rights Council. We don’t take anything for granted but I’ve received some very positive feedback already here, in Geneva, and New York so I’m looking forward to a strong campaign. We are up against some very good competition. I believe it is appropriate that Australia does campaign for an inaugural seat on the Human Rights Council. We’ve not been on it before.
JOURNALIST How much funding are you putting into the campaign?
JULIE BISHOP It will be all part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Budget so it will be absorbed into DFAT’s Budget.
JOURNALIST Do you think today’s Fairfax/Ipsos poll justifies the change of leader?
JULIE BISHOP I don’t comment on the polls, but it is obviously reassuring to know that the Australian people are supporting the Coalition and they support Prime Minister Turnbull. I think we have a very positive agenda, we are talking about some of the challenges we face but also articulating the opportunities, particularly the innovation agenda.
I’ve just returned from the United States where I’ve spent some time in Silicon Valley and the Bay area and there are many young Australians who are working there and they are brimming with the excitement of coming back to Australia and taking part in the creative economies that will underpin so much of our jobs growth and economic growth in the years to come.
JOURNALIST Is it encouraging that Malcolm Turnbull’s popularity is triple that of Bill Shorten’s?
JULIE BISHOP Of course it is encouraging.
JOURNALIST Foreign Minister can I just clarify Australia’s position on the South China Sea and patrols in the Sea? The Americans are clearly considering sending a naval patrol from [inaudible] of some of the artificial islands. I know you’ve said we haven’t agreed to participate in them..
JULIE BISHOP This was not discussed.
JOURNALIST Okay, what is our position, do we think it is a good idea? Would we consider doing it? and if not why not?
JULIE BISHOP The United States has said that it will traverse the South China Sea within international law and so, until such time as the United States makes a decision to take particular routes, it would be hypothetical. The United States says it will act within international law and of course we support that.
JOURNALIST Foreign Minister, what do you think of Kim Beazley’s comments today that Australia does foreign affairs ‘on the cheap’ and has asked for more resources in Washington?
JULIE BISHOP Well I certainly agree with Kim Beazley that successive Australian Governments have not provided the kind of resources that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and our diplomats need to fully engage and pursue our interests internationally and that is why I have ensured that we are opening new posts overseas. In fact, in the first two years of this Government we have announced the opening of seven new posts overseas and I think that is the largest number of any one announcement in decades. So I’m committed to ensuring that while we have significant budgetary constraints - we inherited a disastrous budgetary situation - we’ll certainly give priority to doing as much as we can innovatively, creatively so that our interests are represented on the world stage. We’ve already seen that in the aid budget, we had to cut the aid budget, but we’ve managed to be much more creative and innovative in the way we deliver aid and getting better results as an outcome.
JOURNALIST Can I just ask if you are aware of Sheri Yin? She was arrested in the US last week for bribery allegations in the UN. She is a bit of a mystery, it seems that she lives here in Canberra, or at least may be a dual citizen, but no one is quite sure. Is it a consular case?
JULIE BISHOP I have been briefed on the matter, it is a matter that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is focussing on but I’m not going to go into individual cases at this point, but it is a matter upon which I’ve been briefed.
JOURNALIST Can you say if she’s an Australian-Chinese?
JULIE BISHOP I’ll leave that sort of detail to our consular staff. I’ve obviously been briefed on the matter but it is a fairly complex issue. I don’t want to compromise any of the investigations that are underway.
JOURNALIST [inaudible] the United Nations cancelled their trip to Australia in recent months.
JULIE BISHOP No that is not what occurred. We have an open invitation to the Special Rapporteur to come to Australia. I understand he was here on a private visit and then cancelled part of his formal visit, but there is an open invitation for the Special Rapporteurs to come to Australia and I expect that they will do so.
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