JOURNALIST: Good morning to you Julie, always great to have you as part of Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning. Greetings from Washington DC.
JOURNALIST: Yeah good on you Julie, thank you for calling in, we really appreciate it. How have things gone, just the tone between Australia and the United States, because that’s what we’re really worried about after the now-infamous Malcolm Turnbull-Donald Trump conversation that was leaked to the world within ten minutes, how are we feeling about our relationship, Julie, going forward?
JULIE BISHOP: It is clear that there’s enormous goodwill towards Australia. I’ve had two very constructive meetings, one with Vice President Pence and one with the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, very positive discussions on how Australia and the United States can work together to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future, and there’s very real and genuine recognition that Australia is a close friend. We are major security and defence partners, we’re significant trade and investment partners, and a lot of Americans like coming to Australia, and a lot of Australians like visiting the United States. So the depth of the relationship was quite evident from my meetings.
JOURNALIST: And Julie how did you go with the delicate tightrope that you have to walk on where you say to them ‘you guys are our friends, yeah you love us, that’s great, but you don’t like China, but we like China, can you just go easy on China’? What’s the positioning as far as the major elephant in the world room at the moment which is the China-United State relationship?
JULIE BISHOP: As close friends, we take the opportunity to inform the United States of our views, and with the new Administration, I’ve certainly taken this opportunity very early on to give them our perspective, our insights, how we see the world. They’re asking for ideas and input. There are a number of reviews underway into existing US policies, so I’m taking the opportunity to give them our perspective, and that includes on the China-U.S. relationship. I think both appreciate that this is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. The United States is the security and defence guarantor for many countries around the world, China is the major trading partner for many other countries around the world. Some, like Australia, of course have an alliance with the United States and a major economic partnership with China. So I think the United States and China recognise the importance of a constructive relationship, and that is most certainly the feedback that I got. So as close friends, we can have pretty frank and open discussions with our counterparts in the United States.
JOURNALIST: Julie, we had your colleague Peter Dutton, the Immigration Minister, on the show yesterday and he was giving the tick that the deal to get the refugees off Manus Island is going to go ahead, that was part of the contention with Donald Trump and the phone call. Have you had discussions around that in Washington?
JULIE BISHOP: The issue hasn’t been raised because the officials are dealing with it, United States officials and Australian officials are working to assess those that the United States will take under the agreement. The agreement is progressing so it’s not a contentious issue here, because the agreement is being honoured by the new Administration.
JOURNALIST: Julie, the United States, Donald Trump, has come out and said ‘We’re sick of America doing the heavy lifting for everyone’s defence, you know, we’re everyone’s bouncer but no one’s paying on the way through’, has there been any treaties or entreaties towards you, about having further American troops, particularly up in the Darwin area?
JULIE BISHOP: Well in fact, there’s been an acknowledgement of the role Australia is playing. We are recognised as a significant contributor to the efforts to bring peace to Iraq and Syria, and we’re recognised for the role that we play in our part of the world, and also for the fact that the United States has an agreement with us, to rotate Marines and planes through Darwin. So they also know that we have a significant commitment to increase our defence capability, with our Defence White Paper and the defence industry program that is underway, with submarines and ships and the like. And also, our policy to commit two per cent of GDP to defence spending. So I think the Unites States appreciates and made it quite clear that they appreciate the effort that Australia is making, to help shoulder the burden of trying to bring peace and security and stability to our part of the world, and the United States has that responsibility globally. So we’re certainly doing our fair share, and that was remarked upon in virtually every meeting I’ve had.
JOURNALIST: Julie, Mick Molloy here. You wouldn’t mind swinging by the Australian Embassy and apologising for my behaviour on Election Night would you? It’d just help me out.
JULIE BISHOP: How bad was it?
JOURNALIST: Pretty bad?
JULIE BISHOP: How bad was it?
JULIE BISHOP: Really?
JOURNALIST: Can you get the feet marks off Joe Hockey’s desk and apologise for the burn on the carpet from his cigar?
JOURNALIST: And I think I may have left my underpants in his ensuite.
JULIE BISHOP: Do you reckon you’ll be allowed back in ever again?
JOURNALIST: No. Well I wasn’t allowed in the first time, they wouldn’t let me in the first time. They reckon I didn’t have 100 per cent documentation.
JOURNALIST: Are you kidding Julie, it was the best night Joe Hockey’s had in years. He wanted Mick to move in.
JULIE BISHOP: Ambassador Hockey is doing a fine job here. I’ve seen a bit of him, and somehow he managed to avoid mentioning your behaviour on Australia Day, but now that you’ve raised it with me, I’ll make specific inquiries and see who’s got the photographs.
JOURNALIST: Thank you very much.
JOURNALIST: Hey Julie good luck, if you can get this deal, and get the voice of Australia having some influence in the Indo-Pacific region, which you’re discussing with Rex Tillerson over there, that’d be magnificent for our country, and you’ve earned your money a thousand times over, so good luck over there and we appreciate you calling through to Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.
JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Eddie, that’s what I’m seeking to do while I’m here, and it has been a very successful visit to date, so thanks for having me on the show.
JOURNALIST: Good on you Julie, thank you, we appreciate you calling through.
- Ends -
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555