JOURNALIST: Minister, can you please provide us with an update of the teenager over in Bali?
JULIE BISHOP: Australian consular officials in Bali have been in contact with this young man and we're making arrangements to visit him today. In the meantime, Australian consular officials here in Canberra have been in contact with his family in Perth. We are providing whatever consular assistance and advice we can. We understand that he has legal representation but we'll continue to seek to visit him. Under Indonesian law I understand that people can be held for three days and then a further three days if an investigation is carried out before a decision is made on whether to charge them or not. So we are in the meantime providing whatever support we can.
JOURNALIST: Is there a message in this incident for other Australians?
JULIE BISHOP: I have to take this opportunity to state again that when you travel overseas you leave behind the Australian judicial system, the Australian support system, and you are subject to the laws of the country in which you are visiting. In the case of Indonesia, they have very harsh laws in relation to drugs. I say to all young people travelling to Indonesia, to their families: please remember you are subject to the laws of Indonesia and they have very harsh penalties when it comes to drug-related offences.
JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns for him over how he is being treated or his health?
JULIE BISHOP: These are matters that our consular officials will determine when they visit him today. We will ensure that whatever support and advice we can provide, we will do so.
JOURNALIST: It must be frustrating for the Government after the Schapelle Corby saga and all of the other cases in Indonesia?
JULIE BISHOP: Tragically there are a number of cases where young Australians in particular have been arrested and in some cases convicted of drug offences. Again, I warn people travelling overseas that the laws of the country you're visiting apply. In the case of Indonesia there are very harsh punishments related to drug offences.
JOURNALIST: Just on another matter, a Joint Parliamentary Committee has labelled the Government's proposed ban on asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru ever coming to Australia as "severe" and "unacceptable". Do you think that this shows that this legislation is potentially dead?
JULIE BISHOP: What is severe and unacceptable were the border protection failings of the previous Labor Government. We saw 50,000 people try to reach Australia by boat through the people smuggling trade, 1200 deaths at sea, 8000 children in detention – there were 2000 children still in detention when we came to government. We have closed 17 detention centres, we have stopped the deaths at sea, we are dismantling the people smuggling trade, and we are now left with cleaning up the last of Labor's catastrophic mess and that is seeking to close down Manus and Nauru detention centres. And it's necessary for us to find regional solutions to this problem because otherwise the people smuggling trade will be reinvigorated, and I condemn Labor for its failure to protect our borders when in government and its failure to support the Government when we seek to clean up the catastrophic policy failures of the previous Labor Government.
JOURNALIST: But surely it's not a good look with a committee making such comments especially when there are so many Liberals on this committee as well?
JULIE BISHOP: The fact is we have to ensure that the people smuggling trade, criminal networks, do not operate in our region and put people's lives at risk. 1200 people died at sea under the past Labor Government's border protection laws. That will not happen under this Government.
JOURNALIST: So you'll ignore the committee or…
JULIE BISHOP: Well we've only just received the report. That's a matter for the Government to consider.
JOURNALIST: The former Liberal Immigration Minister Ian Macphee has described Peter Dutton's comments on Lebanese immigrants as "outrageous", do you agree with him?
JULIE BISHOP: What Peter Dutton was saying is many years ago there were not the support services available for those who were brought to Australia under refugee humanitarian visas. Today we have significant support; we devote significant resources to ensuring that people can integrate into Australian society and be contributors. Peter Dutton was making a specific point about people who have been charged or convicted of terrorist-related offences in Australia.
JOURNALIST: Do you concede though that his comments have hurt a lot of people, innocent people, who came here in the 1970s?
JULIE BISHOP: He's also made it very clear that we support the contribution that the Lebanese community, that other ethnic communities have made to Australia. The majority of our ethnic communities make a significant contribution to Australia and will continue to do so, and it is valued by the Australian Government. There are a small number of people who are involved in terrorist-related offences and he was making a very valid point.
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