CHRIS REASON We had just started talking about your visit to Iran, Andrew Wilkie came out and said we are basically dancing with the devil by entering into this pact, this agreement. Your response to that?
JULIE BISHOP Of course we need to get as much information as we can on the Australians who are fighting in Iraq and Syria. We don’t have a presence in Syria, and we have very limited resources in Iraq. So we need to get information on the Australians who are actually fighting with a terrorist organisation in this region and that information will be useful for us should they come back to Australia because to be in Al Raqqa or to be in Mosul, to fight with a terrorist organisation is an offence against the criminal laws of Australia and so we would need the evidence to prove the case that these people are actually fighting for a terrorist organisation. Now I want Australia to be able to get that information from wherever we can.
The Iranian Government is present in Iraq through the presence of the Revolutionary Guard, through the support that they are giving to the Iraqi Government and they offered information to Australia and I accepted and said we would be interested in sharing information. Now Iran is trying to stop foreign fighters going through its region, we are trying to stop Australian foreign fighters going to Iraq and Syria and so an informal information sharing agreement is absolutely appropriate. Andrew Wilkie claims that they will provide us with propaganda, the fact is our security and intelligence agencies sift through masses of information, that’s what they’re trained to do, they work out the veracity of the information they receive, what is useful, what is credible and what is not. They are sophisticated analysts and are well capable of determining what is useful information and what is not.
NICK MILLER With Charlie Hebdo, obviously there are some incredibly brave people up there who have been through something horrific, but the magazine has been accused of Islamophobia, of fomenting, you know, hatred against minorities. What’s your take on the magazine itself? Do you think that everything they do is to be admired?
JULIE BISHOP I admire the people who work here - satire, brutal, vicious satire is part of French society in a way that we don’t see in Australia and this magazine is building on a very strong tradition of satire, going back centuries in this country. It seems a counterbalance against power and it’s an irreverent, provocative, controversial magazine. It offends almost everyone at any one time. No one, nothing, is sacred from the biting wit and satirical nature of this magazine. If people don’t like it, don’t buy it. If you don’t like what you see or what you read in this magazine, do not buy it, and the utterly brutal and disproportionate response by the terrorists, murdering people here at this magazine is to be condemned, absolutely condemned. Over those two days on the 7th and 8th of January, 20 people died because people didn’t like cartoons that this magazine published. Don’t buy the magazine, don’t read it.
CHRIS REASON Minister, you’ve been briefed I’m sure, what can you tell us about the arrest of that 14 year old boy in Northern England in connection with those ANZAC Day threats back in Melbourne?
JULIE BISHOP Well, I won’t go into them in too much detail because being overseas I’ll leave it to the Prime Minister and others to talk back in Australia about it, but it’s an example of the work that we are doing through our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies to keep Australia safe. We’ve changed our laws, we’ve provided more resources to our law enforcement and security agencies so that they can detect this kind of activity and take action to keep people safe. So it’s part of a broader response by the Government against terrorism, against potential terrorism, and the kind of brutal and violent attacks that we’ve seen elsewhere in the world. We want to keep Australia and our people safe both at home and abroad.
CHRIS REASON What does it say about the links though that are happening between Australia and worldwide on terrorism?
JULIE BISHOP I have said on a number of occasions that the strain of terrorism that we are seeing emerge is more complicated, more complex, more dangerous, more global than we have ever seen before. It is unprecedented and that’s why we are taking such strong action to prevent, particularly young Australians, becoming involved in this terrorist organisation, prevent them from travelling to Iraq and Syria. And they’re just putting their own lives at risk, they’re adding to the misery and the suffering of the people of the region and they are supporting one of the most brutal and vicious terrorist organisations that we have ever seen. So we must take very strong action to ensure that Australians and others are safe from this kind of activity.
CHRIS REASON Security at ANZAC services worldwide here in France, Villers-Brettoneux on Saturday, at Gallipoli, more strong security there. Have you got concerns about ANZAC Day as a target?
JULIE BISHOP I’m aware that terrorist attacks can take place at any place, any time, and so of course we have in place appropriate security but countries in this region, countries around the world are very conscious of the need to take appropriate steps to keep people safe and I know that’s happening in Belgium, here in France and, mostly, in Turkey at Gallipoli.
CHRIS REASON They’d be throwing more security at this ANZAC Day than ever before I’d imagine.
JULIE BISHOP I would think there would be an unprecedented level of security across the globe for events such as this. Most certainly the Turkish Government has assured us that every step is being taken to ensure that the Gallipoli service goes smoothly, and I’m sure it will be an extraordinary experience for those who are fortunate enough to be there.
NICK MILLER Just in relation to that, the UK announced a review of security of ANZAC Day on the weekend after it emerged that this kid was arrested. Have you asked any governments if they are going to review security, there’s stuff going on in Copenhagen?
JULIE BISHOP We are constantly reassured by governments that security arrangements are constantly being reviewed and, just as we do in Australia, countries are doing that overseas. Those who are hosting ANZAC ceremonies and similar ceremonies are taking steps to ensure that security is appropriate and I know that we will have representatives in London, it will be a significant event in London given the involvement of the British in this time and I’m assured that the security will be as appropriate as it can be, as it will be here in France and in Belgium where I will be engaged on ANZAC Day eve and ANZAC Day morning.
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