LISA WILKINSON: Minister, good morning to you.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning, Lisa.
LISA WILKINSON: That is a significant commitment from Malcolm Turnbull - $800 million to help poorer nations on climate change, but as we heard, this is not new money. It is coming from our existing foreign aid budget. Do you know yet which foreign aid projects will suffer as a result?
JULIE BISHOP: No projects will suffer because this is precisely what small island developing nations in the Pacific are asking for. So we provide significant funding to the Pacific; in fact, that's the focus of our aid budget and they are asking us for money to help them deal with natural disasters and the like and so the money that we will be spending is, in fact, money that they've asked to be directed to what's called climate resilience. That is, helping them prepare for natural disasters because the Pacific is one of the most natural disaster prone regions in the world. So we're using our aid budget in a way in which it was intended and that's what Prime Minister Turnbull announced last night in Paris.
LISA WILKINSON: Alright. As you heard from our reporter there, Tom Steinfort, it is being reported in News Corp press this morning that there will be "hell to pay" with significant numbers of Coalition members if the Prime Minister tries to cut emissions any more than the proposed 26 to 28 per cent by 2030. But these numbers don't really reflect what Malcolm Turnbull would like to do if he's re-elected, do they?
JULIE BISHOP: No, that's not right. These targets were set by the Cabinet of which Malcolm Turnbull was a member. They were set in August at 26 to 28 per cent. They were taken to the Party Room, that's the mandate that I have when I go to Paris next week. The targets are not being renegotiated at Paris. About 180 countries have put forward their targets. Australia has put forward an achievable target of 26 to 28 per cent reduction in our contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. So that's not up for negotiation.
LISA WILKINSON: Alright. Well, moving on to some tragic news of two bodies found in a burnt out van belonging to missing Western Australian men Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas in Mexico. Minister, what's the latest information that you have about the fate of these men?
JULIE BISHOP: Well, we do have very grave concerns for their fate. When it was revealed some days ago that they were missing, our consular authorities have been in touch with the authorities in the United States. Our consular staff have been working around the clock to determine their whereabouts. A vehicle registered in the name of one of the Western Australian men has been located. There are human remains and these are yet to be formally identified. We are working closely with the family, keeping the family informed of whatever we know and I understand that family members, a partner, will be travelling to the United States and then to Mexico to help with the identification.
LISA WILKINSON: How hard is it if it does turn out to be these two missing Australian men, how hard is it going to be to get real answers in a place like Mexico?
JULIE BISHOP: Well clearly we're already working with the law enforcement authorities in Mexico. I've not had any reports of any difficulties at this point. We are working very closely with them, but our thoughts are with the families and friends of those two men who have been missing for some time, but I do hold very grave concerns for their fate.
LISA WILKINSON: Alright. Well, back home and Tony Abbott is again speaking out about being dumped as Prime Minister and he's not holding back. He's told Fairfax he blames well executed white-anting within the party for the collapse of his leadership. Is he right?
JULIE BISHOP: No, I don't believe so. There was a remarkable event in February of this year when the backbench essentially revolted against the Prime Minister at the time and called for a spill. The Cabinet held absolutely firm and 39 people voted for the spill, even though there was no leadership contender. Tony Abbott then said that he wanted six months to turn things around and when the next spill motion came, 54 members of the party voted for a new leader. That's how I saw the situation.
I certainly was not aware of white-anting, although I'm sure that the former Prime Minister has a number of concerns about what went on in those last six months of his time as Prime Minister, but I think everybody's moving on. I've been around in Sydney and Melbourne and Geelong in recent days and nobody has raised this with me. People are concerned about jobs, job opportunities. They are excited about our innovation agenda. They were excited with our very positive and upbeat and optimistic narrative about the future of Australia, the jobs of the future and the opportunities particularly for young people in this country.
LISA WILKINSON: I think the whole issue of loyalty seems to keep coming up on this. Fairfax journalist Peter Hartcher says that on the day before the February leadership spill that you spoke of, Malcolm Turnbull called Scott Morrison in your presence and canvassed the idea of him becoming Treasurer should Tony Abbott lose the leadership. Is that true or false?
JULIE BISHOP: This is back in February. This has all been reported on.
LISA WILKINSON: So is the report that Peter Hartcher has delivered up in Fairfax press that you were there when Malcolm Turnbull called Scott Morrison true or false?
JULIE BISHOP: I was there when Malcolm Turnbull called people. I was there when Tony Abbott called people. It was a time when the backbench had called for a spill. It was not supported by the Cabinet and so Cabinet colleagues were all talking to each other constantly over that period of time.
LISA WILKINSON: Did you tell Tony Abbott that that conversation had taken place?
JULIE BISHOP: Of course, of course.
LISA WILKINSON: What was Tony Abbott's reaction?
JULIE BISHOP: Well we were all talking to each other. Malcolm was talking to Tony, Tony was talking to Scott. Everybody was talking to each other because this had come from the backbench. It wasn't driven by the leadership. It wasn't driven by the leadership, it wasn't driven by the Cabinet and so a number of colleagues were, of course, speaking constantly about the matter over that weekend.
LISA WILKINSON: On the day that he was deposed, Tony Abbott said that there was going to be no wrecking, no undermining and no sniping from the sidelines. Do you think he's having trouble moving on?
JULIE BISHOP: No I don't think so. I think Tony is focusing on being a backbencher. He is a local member – that in itself is a lot of work and takes a lot of focus and effort. But of course he would take some time to come to terms with what happened in those last six months that he asked the party to give him, six months. But I think the public have moved on and they are embracing the new leadership under Malcolm Turnbull and the feedback that I'm getting, in fact, it is reflected by the polls, is that people are very excited about an upbeat, optimistic agenda for the future of this country, particularly the jobs of the future, the harnessing of creative, innovative industries, the creative economy in Australia. That's what people are talking to me about.
LISA WILKINSON: Alright. The polls are certainly good. Foreign Minister, we will have to leave it there. Thanks very much for your time this morning.
JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555