JOURNALIST What are some of the constraints with Australia and its overall humanitarian intake? What are some of the considerations the Government is making about that particular figure?
JULIE BISHOP These are matters that Peter Dutton will discuss with UNHCR and other agencies in Geneva. That’s why we have asked our Immigration Minister to travel to Geneva to have these discussions face-to-face so that we can discuss ways Australia can assist. I am also speaking with counterpart foreign ministers, some of our friends and allies, foreign ministers of countries in the region, to gauge what they will be doing and how we can work as part of an international effort.
Australia has taken a leading role on this through our work on the UN Security Council, particularly throughout 2014. We were co-authors of a resolution in February, again in July of 2014 and again in December of 2014, focussing on the humanitarian disaster in Syria and calling for ceasefires, calling for access to areas so that the humanitarian aid that was being pledged could be delivered. So Australia has taken a lead role in international forums, particularly in the Security Council.
We have committed $155 million, nearly $156 million to humanitarian aid in Syria and also aid into other places including Yemen, Iraq and the like and of course we are looking at the question of what we can do on the humanitarian intake. Now that we have got the boats under control, now that we have dismantled the people smuggling trade into Australia we have much more flexibility within our humanitarian program to align it to the challenges of the day, and that is most certainly Syria.
JOURNALIST Now Josh Frydenberg has suggested a Kosovo style increase.
JULIE BISHOP No I said that yesterday, I actually spoke about the Kosovo matter yesterday and said that is something we should consider and that is something I will be raising with other foreign ministers, whether that is an international response that would work in these circumstances and we’ll certainly take advice on that.
JOURNALIST Did you raise the issue of Treasurer Joe Hockey in meetings with the Prime Minister, about his political future, reports in the News Ltd papers yesterday?
JULIE BISHOP I haven’t spoken to the Prime Minister about the reports in the News Ltd paper. It is just gossip.
JOURNALIST What about, have you ever met with the Prime Minister to discuss the future with Treasurer Joe Hockey?
JULIE BISHOP I’ve said before that I am not going into details of my private discussions with my leader, with Cabinet Ministers. I do not leak to the media. I do not talk about private and confidential discussions. I’ve said repeatedly that Joe Hockey has one of the toughest jobs in Australia and he is dealing with the worst set of financial accounts of any incoming Treasurer. Labor trashed the Budget, trashed the surplus, we are now dealing with record levels of debt and deficit and I think Joe is doing a good job.
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