Doorstop, Canberra

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

Subjects: Discussions in Cambodia re people smuggling, Immigration Minister's handling of Manus Island incident

24 February 2014

JOURNALIST: what you agreed to what you asked in Cambodia [inaudible]?

JULIE BISHOP: I had just returned from a visit through ASEAN countries and in each country the question of people smuggling was raised with me and it was also raised in Cambodia. They are very interested in what's happening in Papua New Guinea and on Nauru, and in the context of the Bali Process we discussed ways that we could cooperate with each other to prevent the people smuggling trade continuing to operate in some of the South East Asian countries.

So it was a general discussion about greater cooperation under the Bali Process. In the context of Cambodia, we also discussed the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed back in 2002 where we agreed to greater cooperation on people smuggling matters. And so that was the content of the discussion. It's a discussion I had with my foreign minister counterparts in each of the ASEAN countries that I visited.

JOURNALIST: Did you ask specifically about whether they would house asylum seekers from Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: The discussion was in relation to the Bali Process and greater cooperation between ASEAN countries and the other members of the Bali Process. But I don't go into detail…

JOURNALIST: Does that include a request?

JULIE BISHOP: Sorry, I don't go into details about discussions with each Minister, but we did put out a statement that showed the matters that were discussed. In fact, there were a range of matters that I discussed with the Prime Minister, with the Foreign Minister, and the Deputy Prime Minister, and the statement that we put out indicates those topics that were canvassed and that's as far as I go in revealing details of confidential conversations that I had with foreign ministers, prime ministers, and deputy prime ministers.

JOURNALIST: The question – their minister has said that they were interested, which leaves the question of what has been asked of them.

JULIE BISHOP: They were interested in the Bali Process and greater cooperation. They were interested in what was going on in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. In fact, they were very interested in what the Australian Government was doing to stop the people smuggling trade because it was pointed out to me on a number of occasions that under the previous government there was a flourishing of the people smuggling trade.

And countries that are part of the transit of the people smuggling trade, those countries that are in the transit zone, if you like, are very concerned about this matter of the people smuggling trade. They were very interested in steps that the Australian Government is taking now to dismantle the people smuggling trade and they want to know how they could help cooperate.

JOURNALIST: How do you feel that Scott Morrison has dealt with the incident last week?

JULIE BISHOP: Scott Morrison, as Minister for Immigration, inherited an appalling mess from the former government and I think he's doing an extraordinary job in very difficult circumstances and has fulfilled an election commitment that we would put in place policies to stop the boats. That is what he took to the Australian people and that's what he's delivering on. And I think he's doing an extraordinarily good job in a very difficult portfolio that was left in an utter mess by the previous government.

The previous government ought to be supporting this government in cleaning up the mess they left. Fifty thousand, people revitalising the people smuggling trade over 1100 deaths at sea and an $11 billion blow-out – and I think Scott Morrison's doing a fantastic job.

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