Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP: Q&A session notes
• Growth in energy demand is going to increase drastically – mostly from China and India. Assuming the Rudd Government’s tax is defeated, demand for iron ore and steel will continue to be of vital importance to Australia.
• Ms Bishop was critical of the Defence White Paper – it reaches questionable conclusions and does not appropriately address concerns raised.
• The relationship between Australia and Japan is very strong. Change of government in either country is of little significance in terms of the impact on the relationship. However, cynical actions meant for domestic consumption with political considerations at its core (i.e. the whaling issue) are not conducive to enhancing the relationship.
• There is a pattern emerging where Mr Rudd does not consult with his cabinet, making highly politicised decisions. The consultation process occurs only after an announcement is made. Often decisions are made either by Mr Rudd himself or by the group of four (Prime Minister Rudd, Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner). In many cases, due to the ramifications which are not considered, decisions are either back-tracked or the Government chooses to dig its heels.
• Ms Bishop is greatly concerned by the rise of antisemitism during periods of heightened tension in the Middle East. Ms Bishop herself has recently been a victim of antisemitism – soon after her views on the “Passports Affair” were aired her office in Western Australia was targeted twice with antisemitic graffiti. Both sides of politics must demonstrate leadership on this issue and publicly condemn antisemitism.
• Ms Bishop noted the hypocrisy in that she was deemed a “national security threat” by the Government for allegedly divulging national security material while the Government divulged sensitive information about national security activities (in relation to Israel’s non-confirmation/denial in the “Passports Affair”).
• The Rudd Government is seeking to gain votes from the Arab/Muslim countries for a temporary Security Council seat in 2013/14. There appears to be a direct link to its actions (e.g. criticising Israel and its UN vote on Israel). The timing of the expulsion of the Israeli diplomat was cynical – it refocussed attention from the mining tax debacle as well as attracting votes from the Arab/Muslim states for Mr Rudd’s quest to gain a Security Council seat.
• The Coalition will not pursue a Security Council seat. Not only is this unlikely to succeed but there are too many compromises that need to be made. The Government is yet to cogently explain the benefits of a Security Council seat.
• Australia has a role to play in the Israeli-Arab conflict but this must not be over-stated. Currently the biggest problem is that the Rudd Government’s primary foreign policy concern is gaining a temporary Security Council seat.
• Ms Bishop agreed to follow up a security funding allocations request for the ACT Jewish Community Centre.