JOURNALIST Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now from Fiji where she is visiting areas affected by Cyclone Winston. Minister, thanks very much for joining us. Just quickly, your thoughts on Turkey overnight. Anzac Day is coming up, when a large number of Australians will be visiting Turkey, will Anzac Day be safe?
JULIE BISHOP Well, Kochie, good morning. As a matter of fact, I've just spoken to our Ambassador in Ankara, James Larsen. He was actually at the intersection in his car when the bomb went off, he was about 20 metres away. He likened it to a bomb going off in the middle of one of Sydney's busiest streets or Melbourne's busiest streets. He said it was an horrific sight. He is ok, all the Australian Embassy staff are ok, and as I understand it, no foreigners have been reported to have been involved in the incident, none killed or injured, but the investigation is still underway. The Australian Government absolutely condemns yet another horrific terrorist attack in Turkey and another one in the Ivory Coast. It is a reminder of why we are in a coalition to defeat terrorism in all its forms. This is deeply worrying because these terrorist organisations are exporting their model of terrorist attack and it can happen at any time and anywhere. As far as Anzac Day is concerned, of course it will proceed. We will work very closely with the Turkish Government and the Turkish authorities to ensure that security is appropriate and that people are as safe as they can be. Last year, when it was the Centenary of Anzac, there was a very heightened security level of support around Gallipoli and I'm sure that will continue again this year.
JOURNALIST Julie Bishop, that is frightening. Our Ambassador was just 20 metres away from the blast. American authorities have been warning Americans to get out of Ankara. They are pulling some of their Embassy staff out. Are we going to do the same with our Embassy staff? Are you thinking of pulling the Ambassador out of Turkey?
JULIE BISHOP This attack took place in the diplomatic district and right in the heart of Ankara. It is chilling to think that our Ambassador was there. He is fine, he certainly hasn't asked to come home but we would take advice from our security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies as to the safety of our Embassy staff as we do on a constant basis. We are always reviewing the security and the safety of our Embassy staff and our people overseas.
JOURNALIST Ok, just quickly before we get on to Fiji. Six month anniversary of Malcolm Turnbull being Prime Minister. There is a Newspoll out this morning showing a big swing against Barnaby Joyce in his seat of New England since Tony Windsor announced he will run. How confident are you that Barnaby will maintain his seat?
JULIE BISHOP Well, the people of New England didn't have an opportunity to judge – it’s raining on me – didn’t have an opportunity to judge Tony Windsor because he didn't run last time, but this time I'm sure that Barnaby Joyce will relish the opportunity of reminding the people of New England that Tony Windsor supported a government that introduced a carbon tax, a mining tax, banned the live cattle exports to Indonesia, trashed the budget, ran up deficits. I am sure that Barnaby will relish the opportunity to remind the people of New England of Tony Windsor’s record.
JOURNALIST Ok and by the sounds of it you’ve got all your dot points against Tony Windsor. I know you’re being soaked, just quickly –
JULIE BISHOP It comes naturally, believe me!
JOURNALIST Fiji –
JULIE BISHOP We have a very large, sorry –
JOURNALIST Yeah, yeah. How is the recovery effort going?
JULIE BISHOP We have a very large contingent here, about 1000 Australian defence personnel and civilian volunteers, and we have been providing food and shelter and water and we are now in the rebuilding stage, helping rebuild schools and churches, community centres, health centres. Our people are doing a magnificent job – here in the rain in Fiji – and it's been a very devastating cyclone but the Australian Government has provided about $15 million in supplies. We have an enormous Defence contingent: HMAS Canberra is here, about 7 helicopters that are taking goods to the outlying islands, a number of planes, and it's been very well received. I was in Koro Island yesterday and the children were very excited to see Australian soldiers there rebuilding their schools, putting roofs back on the school buildings so the children can return to school today after three weeks.
JOURNALIST Julie Bishop, we appreciate you despite getting drenched, you are a trooper. Thank you for joining us. We will let you get some shelter.
JULIE BISHOP Thank you.
JOURNALIST Julie Bishop there in Fiji.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555