JOURNALIST: We're going to return now to the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. I think we've fixed that communication glitch. She's with us from Washington, Minister, thanks for your time. Another lone wolf attack and you'd assume it was IS inspired?
JULIE BISHOP: It is a shocking incident and our hearts go out to the British people and the British public and the Government. I'm in Washington and the UK's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is here, and I extended our deep condolences to him on behalf of the Government and we both discussed what a shocking and sad incident it was. The British Government are treating it as a terrorist incident, until evidence would indicate otherwise, and in those circumstances we certainly stand with the United Kingdom in its fight against terrorism.
JOURNALIST: And seeing the images of the paramedics trying to revive the attacker, it was a stark contrast between the civilisation of that great democracy and the violence of the terrorist.
JULIE BISHOP: Precisely, and that's why we must counter the ideology and the ideas and the narrative of terrorist organisations like ISIS, with an alternative narrative. And the compassion and the freedom and the liberty that exists in countries like Great Britain was on stark display today. These terrorist attacks - if it is a terrorist attack - are very difficult to detect. If it's a lone wolf, if it's a person operating alone, somebody who has self-radicalised, it's very hard for our intelligence and security agencies to detect it. But we are determined to continue to cooperate with other countries, to work together to defeat terrorism at its source in Syria and Iraq, and also to prevent ISIS-inspired attacks happening outside Syria and Iraq and elsewhere in the world, including in our part of the world and Australia.
JOURNALIST: Indeed, and in our Parliament as well, we've seen security gradually increase. Do you feel that this is the latest example of just why that is necessary? And in the context of an attack where the person used a vehicle - once again no gun, no explosives - almost impossible to detect.
JULIE BISHOP: It is very difficult to detect this kind of incident in advance, an individual it would seem using a vehicle, and this is what we're seeing more recently in Brussels, in Nice, in Paris. We're seeing attacks by individuals. They may well be inspired by ISIS, it's too early for us to say in relation to this attack in Britain, but it's in an area of London well known to so many Australians, well known to people around the world - the Westminster region - and it is shocking to see it. But it's why we are focusing so heavily on national security; why we're investing in our security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies; why we're enhancing our laws to ensure that we can keep Australians as safe as possible.
JOURNALIST: Now on the refugee intake, we're seeing the front page of The Australian today: security red flags via the Five Eyes Network prevented 500 potential refugees from coming to Australia, 30 of those were detected on ASIO's terrorism watch list. Should Australians be reassured that those watch lists, both at home and within the Five Eyes Network, that they're working?
JULIE BISHOP: Well I certainly can't give any details of our intelligence capabilities, except to say they are amongst the best in the world, and it is consistent with what we're seeking to do in carrying out very thorough security checks on those who seek to come to Australia. And we have been criticised for taking time, but it's important that we carry out security and health checks as thoroughly and as carefully as possible, and that's what we will continue to do.
JOURNALIST: And so Australians can be reassured with the 10,000 individuals who do arrive here that the ‘extreme vetting’ - for want of a better phase - has been carried out?
JULIE BISHOP: We have been very careful and very thorough as we always are, in carrying out security and health and other checks in relation to the visas that we do provide, and this is certainly consistent with the approach that we take. We want to ensure that people who come to Australia become part of our community, that they are positive and contributing and constructive members of our society. And of course we do carry out very thorough security checks, and our security and intelligence agencies work with other partners, in sharing information and sharing intelligence, all designed to keep Australians safe and to ensure that we are as secure as we possibly can be.
JOURNALIST: And now you're in Washington for that global Coalition in the fight against ISIS. Has there been a shift in emphasis, do you think, under the Trump Administration with Secretary of State Tillerson saying overnight that degrading ISIS is not enough, that they must to wiped from the map, essentially?
JULIE BISHOP: Most certainly the Coalition's objectives had always been to inflict serious damage on ISIS, and the Trump Administration has confirmed that they want to see ISIS wiped out, and we agree. We don't want to see a resurgence of such a terrorist organisation elsewhere in the world. We want to prevent ISIS-inspired attacks occurring elsewhere in the world and we're focusing particularly on South East Asia. And I've been visiting my counterpart foreign ministers in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, to ensure that we are working as closely and as cooperatively as we can to share information and intelligence and practices and experiences to prevent terrorist attacks in our part of the world. Part of that involves working with this Coalition in Syria and Iraq to defeat ISIS at its source and Australia is one of the largest contributors to that effort, and that's why I'm here in Washington to represent Australia at both the large group meeting of about 68 foreign ministers and then the smaller group meeting this afternoon of about 22 foreign ministers. Both were hosted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson which indicates the importance that the US Administration places on this initiative and this effort to defeat ISIS.
JOURNALIST: And on the emphasis that you put on this as well, you've decided to be there in Washington just as the Chinese Premier is here with your counterpart Wang Yi, why that decision?
JULIE BISHOP: I met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi just last month. We had a very long bilateral meeting in Australia and this meeting in Washington is very important because we have about 1000 military personnel in the theatre and we have committed about $500 million in humanitarian support in Syria and Iraq and we are one of the largest contributors to the effort to defeat ISIS. And so it's absolutely in Australia's national interest that I be here representing Australia at the first counter-ISIS meeting hosted by the new US Administration and chaired by Secretary of State Tillerson. It was extremely important for us to be part of the discussions and to be here to listen to the United States Administration talk about its proposal for the defeat of ISIS under the new Administration. And so that's why I'm here in Washington at both the large group meeting of 68 foreign ministers and the smaller group; Australia was present at both.
JOURNALIST: And just before you go quickly, it's been reported that Australia was one of 11 countries signing a letter to China urging the Government there to investigate widespread reports that lawyers involving human rights cases were being tortured. Is that accurate?
JULIE BISHOP: Australia has always been an upholder of human rights and we have often spoken in multilateral fora and elsewhere about the need to adhere to the international rules-based order and that includes acting against human rights abuses. So that's a position that Australia has taken over a very long period of time and both sides of politics support our adherence to the protection of human rights around the world.
JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Washington, appreciate your time.
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.
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