JOURNALIST: What’s your reaction to Donald Trump’s position on Jerusalem?
JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government is committed to a two-state solution whereby the Israeli people and the Palestinian people can live in peace side-by-side within internationally recognised boundaries and that remains our foreign policy objective in relation to the issues in Israel with the Israeli State and the Palestinian authority. We will not be taking steps to move our Embassy. It will continue to offer diplomatic representation in Tel Aviv.
JOURNALIST: Palestinians have said that this is a declaration of war. Are you worried about tensions rising?
JULIE BISHOP: I’m concerned by any unilateral action by either side which could add to tension. However the Australian Government remains committed and optimistic that the way to achieve enduring peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is a negotiated two-state solution.
JOURNALIST: Do you think any damage between the US and Middle Eastern leaders could affect Australia?
JULIE BISHOP: Australia’s position has been clear and consistent. We support a two-state solution and we believe that a negotiated peace is the only way to ensure an enduring peace.
JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop, are relations with China at somewhat of a low point given so much discussion of influence and infiltration of China within Australia in the past couple of days?
JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government enjoys a very close and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China. We work together on many issues. I know the Chinese Government is deeply concerned by the revelations around Senator Sam Dastyari and I’m not surprised they would be concerned by the very bad publicity that Senator Sam Dastyari’s actions have given to his relationship with China. I think he’s debased himself and the Labor Party and nobody respects him or the Labor Party for his actions. He’s been taking money from a foreign benefactor, he’s been changing Labor Party foreign policy as a result. He’s even gone so far as to put at risk our national security. Senator Dastyari has compromised his position as a Senator, he is utterly compromised, his position is untenable – he should resign.
JOURNALIST: The Embassy released an extremely strong statement yesterday categorically rejecting allegations of influence and infiltration in Australia. Do you accept them at their word?
JULIE BISHOP: I note what the Chinese Embassy said and I welcome their commitment to ensuring that there will not be any illegal interference in Australia’s political affairs, but the actions of Senator Sam Dastyari are separate from this. What he has done is seek to actively undermine what he believed to be an Australian intelligence operation and in doing so he’s utterly compromised – he must go.
JOURNALIST: Was the Government negotiating with the crossbench over the citizenship stuff last night and did you make any headway?
JULIE BISHOP: Let’s be very clear about what’s happened here. Bill Shorten is stating that there are two standards – one for the Coalition and one for the Labor Party – that is not acceptable. We have referred Members who believed that they were not eligible to sit in the House of Representatives and in the Senate by virtue of Section 44 of the Constitution. Yet all this time Bill Shorten has been protecting those Members of his Party who he knows – and they have admitted themselves – are dual citizens at the time of close of nominations. He can’t apply one standard to the Coalition and another to Labor Members. There are already a number of Labor Members who by their own admission are not eligible to sit in the House and they should be referred to the High Court.
JOURNALIST: So do you think the Government will have the numbers to refer those other three MPs?
JULIE BISHOP: This is obviously a matter for negotiation but these Members have by their own admission said that they’re dual citizens. They should be referred, they should self-refer as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce did.
JOURNALIST: So negotiations are still ongoing with the crossbench then?
JULIE BISHOP: Well I’m here at a World AIDS Day breakfast – I’m not taking part in negotiations.
JOURNALIST: When do you expect the same sex marriage bill to pass and do you think it’ll go through unamended?
JULIE BISHOP: I’m hoping that it will pass today. The Australian people were very strong in their support that there be a change to the Marriage Act to enable same sex couples to marry. The postal survey had a very high participation rate and a very strong majority view so the Australian Parliament has a responsibility to pass this legislation as soon as possible and I’m hoping that it will pass today.
JOURNALIST: Just on the issue of citizenship, if Labor MPs don’t self-refer as you suggest, will the Government seek to refer them?
JULIE BISHOP: Let’s see how this matter unfolds. Bill Shorten demanded that Barnaby Joyce be referred to the High Court. He set a very high standard and the Coalition met that standard. We had Barnaby Joyce face a by-election, John Alexander who was concerned about his eligibility resigned and is facing a by-election. The Coalition has done the right thing. Bill Shorten has been hiding Members whom he knows are not eligible to sit in the House yet he’s refused to refer them. I think the Australian people can see through Bill Shorten. He’s been dishonest in relation to this matter, he has misled the Australian people, he’s misled the media time and time again by saying that there were no problems with his Members and that his vetting process was rolled gold. All the while he was hiding the fact that Members of his Party are not eligible to sit in the House of Representatives. He should do the right thing and refer them as the Coalition has done. There are not two standards here, not one for the Labor Party one for the Coalition. They must do the right thing and refer those Members who are not eligible to sit in the House of Representatives, by their own admission, to the High Court.
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