JULIE BISHOP: Good morning. On the issue of North Korea, Australia is continuing its strategy of working with allies and partners in placing political, diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to change its behaviour. I can confirm that Australia has designated 37 individuals and 31 entities, whom we believe have been involved in some way in North Korea's nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests.

We welcome the news overnight that China is fully implementing UN Security Council resolutions imposing the toughest and most comprehensive package of sanctions on North Korea to date, and China has stated that it will be completely prohibiting the import from North Korea of coal, oil, iron ore and seafood.

Australia continues to urge all countries to uphold the authority of the UN Security Council, impose the sanctions universally and to ensure that whatever diplomatic or economic leverage they have with North Korea, that it be used to the fullest extent.

On the issue of citizenship, there has been a dramatic development this morning. The New Zealand Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern has revealed that Bill Shorten sought to use the New Zealand Parliament to undermine the Australian Government. Bill Shorten has sought to use a foreign political party to raise serious allegations in a foreign parliament designed to undermine confidence in the Australian Government. Bill Shorten has serious questions to answer. This is highly unethical, at least, but more importantly, puts at risk the relationship between the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government. Bill Shorten must reveal who he put up to this dirty task and the details of the urging of a foreign political party to be involved in efforts to undermine the Australian Government. We're used to these dodgy backroom deals from Bill Shorten when he was leader of the union movement. He's now brought that into not only Australian politics but into our international relationships, and Bill Shorten should be called to account for this appalling behaviour.

JOURNALIST: Minister, the New Zealand Minister, the relevant Minister Dunne, has said today that it’s utter nonsense to suggest that the Labour Party’s question played any role and that it was actually media enquiries and not the Labour Party’s question. What do you say to that?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't accept that. The New Zealand Labour Leader has confirmed that a Labour Member of Parliament was contacted by an unnamed Labor Member here in Australia. Bill Shorten must reveal the name of that Member.

JOURNALIST: So are you saying that you don't accept the Internal Minister’s series of events from New Zealand?

JULIE BISHOP: Bill Shorten must reveal the role he played in getting one of his Members, that he's refused to name, and I would be calling – I do call on Bill Shorten to name that person and he needs to reveal his involvement in what is treacherous behaviour.

JOURNALIST: You said that this has put at risk the relationship between Australia and New Zealand. How so?

JULIE BISHOP: New Zealand is facing an election. Should there be a change of Government, I would find it very hard to build trust with those involved in allegations designed to undermine the Government of Australia.

JOURNALIST: Have journalists who asked questions of the New Zealand Government behaved treacherously as well?

JULIE BISHOP: I'm referring to Bill Shorten using a foreign political party to raise questions in a foreign parliament deliberately designed to undermine confidence in the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST: Can I clarify your previous answer? Are you saying that you would not trust a New Zealand Labour Government?

JULIE BISHOP: I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labor Party to seek to undermine the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST:  The New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister explicitly said that was nonsense, he said it started with media enquiries. Are you calling into question the official version of events here?

JULIE BISHOP: I explicitly call into question Bill Shorten's ethics. The Labour Leader said this morning that the Labor Party in Australia contacted the Labour Party in New Zealand and we know what occurred. Allegations were raised in a New Zealand Parliament deliberately designed by the Labor in Australia to undermine confidence in the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Peter Dunne, the Minister?

JULIE BISHOP: No, I have not.

JOURNALIST: Have you contacted anyone in the New Zealand Government or the High Commission about this?

JULIE BISHOP: I maintain constant contact with my colleagues in New Zealand.

JOURNALIST: This morning, though, have you made any contact this morning?

JULIE BISHOP: I maintain constant contact with my colleagues in New Zealand. 

JOURNALIST: But nothing this morning? No contact this morning?

JULIE BISHOP: I maintain constant contact with my colleagues in New Zealand. 

JOURNALIST: Is this the first that the New Zealand Government has learned of your displeasure, this media conference?

JULIE BISHOP: I maintain constant contact with my New Zealand colleagues, and I’m not going into the details of conversations that I have had, but I do call on Bill Shorten to reveal the name of the Labor Member who urged a New Zealand Member of Parliament, this is a foreign political party, to raise questions in a foreign parliament deliberately designed to undermine confidence in the Australian Government.

JOURNALIST: This New Zealand Labour MP took it upon himself to put questions on the notice paper. There's no sense of coercion.

JULIE BISHOP: Are you making a statement or are you asking me a question?

JOURNALIST:  I’m asking you the question.

JULIE BISHOP: Well I disagree.

JOURNALIST: Minister, can you argue that if this conspiracy or whatever is true, that Labor and the New Zealand Parliament were doing what Barnaby Joyce should have done in the first place and checked his own citizenship given that he had a New Zealand father? Doesn’t he bear some responsibility for this?

JULIE BISHOP: If Labor had any interest in resolving the uncertainties that arise from Section 44 of the Constitution – and might I point out again that there are many uncertainties involving their Members of Parliament that should be pursued – if he had any interest in resolving the uncertainties, wouldn't he have raised it in the Australian Parliament? Wouldn't he have raised it in a letter to the Prime Minister? Why involve a foreign political party and a foreign parliament to resolve what is an Australian issue? I find his conduct utterly unacceptable. If he was serious about resolving uncertainty for the good governance of this country, uncertainties that involve his Members of Parliament and his Senators, then surely he'd raise the question in the Australian Parliament? He'd write to the Prime Minister? He'd write to the Deputy Prime Minister? But no, in a typical back-handed dodgy way, Bill Shorten sought to invoke the services of the New Zealand Labour Party to ask a question in the New Zealand Parliament. Highly unethical at the very least.

JOURNALIST:  So you’ll believe treachery but you do not believe that the Minister of Internal Affairs in New Zealand, who is not a Member of the Labour Party’s version of events?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe that Bill Shorten should be called to account for his role in urging -

JOURNALIST: Do you believe Minister Dunne?

JULIE BISHOP: I’m just answering your question -

JOURNALIST: No you’ve answered with that already.

JULIE BISHOP: Well I’ll say it again. I believe that Bill Shorten should be held accountable for his role in urging a foreign political party to raise questions in a foreign parliament deliberately designed to undermine the Australian Government. Thank you.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
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