JOURNALIST: International investigators are converging on the site in Egypt where a Russian plane crashed, killing 224 people. Russia has held a national day of mourning for the victims of the Metro jet crash but it's still unclear what brought the plane down. Russian and Egyptian authorities have dismissed claims of authority of responsibility from a militant group affiliated with Islamic State. The plane was carrying 117 passengers and seven crew when it crashed over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
And we are joined now by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. Minister good morning to you, thanks for your time.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Sam.
JOURNALIST: Now Islamic State has claimed responsibility, even released video it says shows the plane's final moments. Do you believe that and if so, should we be concerned that IS has the capability to shoot down a passenger plane?
JULIE BISHOP: Well first Sam, the Australian Government offers its deepest condolences to the people of Russia, the families and friends of those aboard that flight. Our embassies in Cairo and Moscow have been in touch with local authorities. I can confirm that there were no Australians on board. As for the claims, it's far too early to say what brought this plane down; investigations are underway. I believe the black box has been located by Egyptian authorities but it will be some time before the actual cause of the crash is known. So the Egyptian and Russian authorities have ruled out an attack by ISIL or similar group but the investigation is still underway.
JOURNALIST: Okay now you are in Melbourne today for the launch of a new Smartraveller campaign, what can you tell us about that?
JULIE BISHOP: Well Sam many, many Australians travel overseas each year and in fact last year there were about 10 million overseas visits by Australians and about 55 per cent of Australians have a passport now so we're a very well travelled nation.
The Australian Government cares deeply about the safety and security of Australians abroad but there's a limit to what we can do to help when people get into trouble. So the message is for people to be well informed and well prepared when they go abroad and in particular to take out comprehensive travel insurance. So today we're launching a new ad campaign for our Smartraveller website. We encourage people to the website that's one “t” in Smartraveller. We've got a new Android app, we've got an iPhone app and we want people to be as well informed and well prepared as they can be before they go overseas.
Last year we had about 50,000 calls to our emergency hotline and there were about 16,000 consular cases that we had to manage and that could include losing passports through to being arrested, being put in jail, getting ill, even deaths aboard. So it's a message to all Australian travellers - go overseas and have a wonderful time but be prepared and take out insurance.
JOURNALIST: Yeah exactly. Good one. Just before we let you go, speculation growing today in the newspapers that the Prime Minister may call an early election - or call an election on Valentine's Day next year, are you ready to swing into election mode, what do you make of those reports?
JULIE BISHOP: I think it is pure speculation. I don't know where Valentine's Day came into it unless they're suggesting that everyone's in love with our Prime Minister - could be the case - but I'm expecting that we will run our term and that's through to the end of 2016 or near the end of 2016. The Prime Minister has indicated that the Government will run its full term.
JOURNALIST: Well there are reports today that Malcolm Turnbull may be trying to avoid a budget. Do you…
JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe that that's the case. What we are seeking to do is govern for all Australians to ensure that we've got a growing economy, job opportunities, we're boosting our creative economy, we're providing job opportunities for young Australians in particular that's why we're looking at our tax policies and wanting to have lower, simpler, fairer taxes, to boost confidence to boost investment, to boost business opportunities, therefore jobs growth in Australia.
JOURNALIST: Okay Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, great to chat we'll see you soon.
JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Sam, bye.
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