SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Minister good morning. Thank you for your time.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Now cross-bench Senators have joined Labor and the Greens in voicing concern about your proposed laws to crack down on home-grown terrorists. Do you think you’re going to get this legislation through the Senate?
JULIE BISHOP: Australia faces a new and heightened security risk because of these extremist terrorist groups that are operating in Syria and Iraq. But appallingly a significant number of Australian citizens are going to Syria and Iraq, joining these extremists and carrying out terrorist activities. And we are concerned they will come home to Australia, experienced in terrorist ways and radicalised.
That’s why we’re taking steps to prevent this kind of extremist activity taking hold in Australia. So the laws that we are proposing help secure Australians, and it’s far better to be preventing terrorism than trying to prosecute hardened terrorists returning home from fighting in the Middle East.
DAVID KOCH: What do you say to the Senators and the civil libertarians who say - look the big change here is if you go to these places you’re going to be presumed guilty when you come back so you’ve got to prove your innocence rather than the other way around?
JULIE BISHOP: No, that’s not correct.
DAVID KOCH: Right.
JULIE BISHOP: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned Australians not to travel to Syria and Iraq and if they’re there they should leave. Now if somebody wants to travel to specific designated terrorist-held areas, they should give the reason why they’re going. And then if the authorities want to prove that they’re not going for that reason the onus of proof is on the authorities. So it’s not a reversal of onus of proof at all. If somebody wants to go to Mosul for example, which is held by ISIL, one of the most brutal, barbaric, terrorist organisations, or has been held by ISIL, then they should say why they’re going and if they’ve got a legitimate reason - that’s fine - but if they don’t, the onus is on the authorities to prove that they don’t have a legitimate reason to be there.
DAVID KOCH: That sounds fair enough.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Alan Jones mentioned that, well it was obvious to him, and it seems like the Prime Minister and you have information that we don’t know about – which is quite fair – that there is serious stuff going on behind the scenes, otherwise you wouldn’t try and produce such a massive package. What do you say to the Senators today who seem like they’re playing politics on this one?
JULIE BISHOP: All of the crossbenchers can have access to intelligence briefings. That’s been offered and I know the Opposition has undertaken those briefings and had them. And there is serious information and evidence available to show that at least 60 Australian citizens are fighting with ISIL and these extremist terrorist groups.
Who can forget the images of that 7-year-old Australian, or 8-year-old Australian holding up the severed head of apparently a Syrian soldier or the beheading of an American journalist? I mean these are brutal, barbaric acts and sadly, tragically, appallingly some Australians are amongst the most prominent of the leadership of this group.
So we do not want these people coming back to Australia carrying out terrorist activities and that’s the information that we’re prepared to share with the cross benchers, now we will work with them to ensure that these laws to protect Australians are put in place.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. Alright, Clive Palmer has apologised to the Chinese for calling them all sorts of things. The West Australian today though says that he’s risked the trade deal for live cattle exports to China. Has he put our trade with China at risk?
JULIE BISHOP: I was deeply concerned that these type of statements would be seen to be representative of the Australian Government, of the Australian people, and of course they’re not. That’s why I was so quick to assure the Chinese Embassy last week that these were the words of one person in the House of Representatives and not representative of the Australian Government. Mr Palmer has now appreciated the error of his ways and the possible damage he could have done and he has apologised. It’s late, I wish he’d done it earlier, but nevertheless he has apologised and we welcome it.
But of course, China doesn’t have to trade with Australia. China is the largest trading partner for about 120 countries around the world, so we compete for our exports into China with a range of other countries. Therefore, it’s not inevitable that China will continue to trade with us. There’s no need to insult our trading partners and they should be treated with respect. We need friendly relations with all the countries with whom we wish to trade and that includes China.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Let’s hope this live cattle deal is ok then Minister.
Now then, just quickly while we’ve got you, we’ve seen celebrations on the streets of Gaza in recent hours as an unconditional ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians took effect. Do you think this deal will last?
JULIE BISHOP: I welcome the fact that there’s now a ceasefire. It appears that both sides are determined to make it work, to have a lasting ceasefire, that is good news. I’ve been very disappointed in the past that Hamas has breached the ceasefires so let’s hope that this one holds.
It’s part of a broader plan, hopefully to establish a two-state solution to the challenges between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That’s what Australians have long hoped for. Let’s hope that this ceasefire is a step in that direction for a permanent, peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
DAVID KOCH: Fingers crossed. On a lighter note, good luck to your West Coast Eagles getting eighth spot this weekend.
JULIE BISHOP: We’re just hoping. Go Eagles!
DAVID KOCH: Julie Bishop, thanks for joining us.
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.
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