JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister good morning to you, what kind of image does this create for us in Asia, do you think it reflects poorly on Australians this bad behaviour?
JULIE BISHOP: Sam, this is another example of Australians travelling overseas and getting into trouble with the laws of another country. It's always disappointing to see this kind of incident and it's no excuse to say that oh well this would just be seen as boisterous behaviour or a minor matter in Australia. When Australians are travelling overseas they are subject to the laws of another nation and what might be seen as a boisterous prank or forgivable behaviour in Australia can have very different overtones or implications in another country.
JOURNALIST If you visit a Muslim country you respect the laws of that country but the Daily Telegraph today in their front page plea is saying, they are referring to our recalcitrant humourless Malaysian friends. How do you think Kuala Lumpur will view words like that?
JULIE BISHOP: Australians must take responsibility for their behaviour when they are overseas, they must abide by the laws of those countries and there are particular customs. In the case of Malaysia our official travel advice warns Australians to be aware of the cultural norms, their requirements for dress standards and what are considered to be standards of decency. It's no excuse to say oh well we would have forgiven this in Australia, because you are subject to the laws of another country and it is exasperating to see the diversion of resources and funds that have to be spent getting Australians out of trouble, particularly when that trouble is avoidable. So at any one time there are about 1300 Australians under arrest overseas or about 350 in jail at any one time. We handle about 15000 consular cases per year, that's about 40 a day and so Australians do get into trouble overseas but I urge them to abide by the laws of the country that they are visiting.
JOURNALIST - There are calls today for these boys and I do use the words boys because they are behaving like hooligan idiots they are all from good Australian families to pay back, these families to pay back anything that it costs taxpayers to bail these boys out. Do you agree with that?
JULIE BISHOP: We don't charge for our consular services but we do recover costs in certain circumstances, obviously we will need to see how this plays out. They haven't been charged, they are still in remand, I believe there is a court case coming up this week. They are receiving consular support from our High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, as every other Australian who is in trouble overseas would receive, but we'd better wait to see what actually occurs and whether they are charged.
JOURNALIST: Minister the most likely charge is insult with intention to provoke breach of the peace which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years or a fine or both, do you think the Malaysian government is likely to punish these young men to send a message to other tourists who are going to behave like yobbos ?
JULIE BISHOP: This would be a matter for the Malaysian legal system and Australians shouldn't assume that the Australian Government can interfere in the legal proceedings of another country, any more than another country could interfere in our legal proceedings. So we can provide consular support but the legal proceedings will have to take their course. It is a warning to Australians travelling overseas that you are subject to the laws of another country and I urge people to read our travel advice on smartraveller because in this case it actually does warn that some behaviour will be deemed to be inappropriate or illegal in Malaysia.
JOURNALIST It's been revealed one of these blokes involved is Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne's staffer Jack Walker, should he know better?
JULIE BISHOP: Well I guess he is no more culpable than the other eight boys involved in this matter. He is not my staffer but I would have urged him to read the travel advice in the event he wasn't aware this behaviour could be more than frowned upon in Malaysia.
JOURNALIST: You are very diplomatic Minister. Just quickly before we let you go; despite your government deciding not to endorse Kevin Rudd for UN Secretary General he has written a detailed blueprint on how he would run the UN, how it should be run if he was Secretary General. It's been put together by his think tank, what do you think of this?
JULIE BISHOP: Well I'm sure the next Secretary General will be delighted to receive the benefits of Kevin Rudd's wisdom on how they should run the United Nations.
JOURNALIST: What would they do without him? Minister Julie Bishop thanks for your time.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555