Doorstop with Luke Nguyen

Transcript
10 Nov 2017
Da Nang, Vietnam
Prime Minister
APEC; Citizenship; Regional security; Trans-Pacific Partnership; Manus Island
E&OE
International and Trade

PRIME MINISTER:

Now, this is Luke Nguyen, as everyone knows, star of stage and screen and star of MasterChef Vietnam.

LUKE NGUYEN:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

And we were just having breakfast with two ladies, Vui and Hong, who are big fans of yours. What’s the audience of MasterChef in Vietnam?

LUKE NGUYEN:

Well a good-rating evening is around 20 million.

[Laughter]

PRIME MINISTER:

There you go eat your heart out all the Australian stars, 20 million!

So, what Luke has done is he’s established, he’s got three restaurants in Australia, you’ve got one in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. He’s got a cooking school there and we met two of his graduates last night. Didn’t we?

LUKE NGUYEN:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

What were their names, those two young people, terrific young chefs.

LUKE NGUYEN:

Yeah.

PRIME MINSITER:

Just terrific and they, both really enthusiastic, so appreciative of Luke's mentorship and the ability of course, to do that extraordinary fusion of east and west cuisine which we were having a taste of there. Just tell us about the Banh Mi, the breakfast we just had?

LUKE NGUYEN:

It’s a much-loved Vietnamese breakfast, the Banh Mi filled with pate, butter and Vietnamese cuisine is all about the fresh herbs as well, so I love the coriander, the pickled vegetables and the fresh mint. That is quintessential Vietnamese dish there - texture, a bit of a French influence with the baguette and the pate, but very light and really healthy and fresh as well.

PRIME MINISTER:

And quite a bit of Australian influence too.

LUKE NGUYEN:

Absolutely.

PRIME MINISTER:

75 per cent of the wheat that is used to make baguettes, the bread and of course noodles in Vietnam comes from Australia.

LUKE NGUYEN:

Absolutely and I'm very proud to be in Vietnam and to be seeing that the baguette that I'm eating has, 75 per cent of it, the wheat comes from Australia.

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s right.

LUKE NGUYEN:

And even the noodles, the egg noodles that I’m eating as well, the wheat from Australia.

PRIME MINISTER:

And Luke was promoting Australian beef to our breakfast companions as well.

So look, the key, as I was saying last night, to securing our prosperity, is free trade and open markets.

This is a rapidly growing economy. It will over the next decade or so, it will become the 20th biggest economy in the world.

I’ll be meeting with the President and the Prime Minister shortly talking about advancing and strengthening our bilateral relationship. 

As you know, later today I’ll be signing a free-trade agreement with the President of Peru.

An example of the way in which we’re constantly forging more opportunities for Australians to export, to create more jobs and opportunities in Australia.

And of course, we are down to the wire on negotiations to continue the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 countries. The United States obviously having pulled out following the change of administration.

So there is a lot of progress going on, on the free trade and open markets front. It’s absolutely fundamental to our future.

And Luke, it's just great to be here with you - you’re playing such an important role. And Luke is an example, he is one of the 300,000 Australians of Vietnamese origin or Vietnamese background and that is an extraordinary tie between our two countries, between this exciting, rapidly-growing economy with so many opportunities for Australian investment and partnership and of course all of the opportunities that creates back home in Australia.

So Luke, thank you for the introduction to the Banh Mi and I look forward to having another one at one of your restaurants in Australia.

LUKE NGUYEN:

Such an honour Prime Minister, thank you very much for being here.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks a lot Luke, well done.

So any questions?

JOURNALIST:

Is it your view that John Alexander or anyone else who finds in the coming days that they are dual citizens, should stand down immediately and refer themselves to the High Court, or wait for the process of declaration?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, the fundamental point is that if you are satisfied that you are not constitutionally eligible to sit in the Parliament, then you shouldn't be sitting there. That’s the fundamental principle. 

I recognise there are cases that will be line-ball decisions or questions of doubt where legal opinions will differ and those are the cases that should be referred to the High Court.

After all, we referred Barnaby Joyce, Barnaby referred himself to the High Court. His legal advice, our legal advice was that he was not disqualified - High Court took a different view. That’s often how it is in the law.

But it's very important that the High Court has the opportunity to determine these cases. It is the High Court and only the High Court that can determine whether somebody is qualified to sit in the Parliament.

JOURNALIST:

Has Mr Alexander updated you on his status?

PRIME MINISTER:

I haven’t spoken, no – the answer is no. I understand the position is as when I last heard from him, which is that, as you know and he has said this publicly, that he believes he is not a dual-citizen, but he is undertaking some further enquires and seeking advice.

JOURNALIST:

The High Court is now looking at Hollie Hughes and her eligibility. Do you have any reason to think that her appointment to the AAT may have struck her out on office of profit?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, that’s another part of Section 44. It’s becoming - pardon?

JOURNALIST:

An education?

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s becoming an education, well certainly. It’s certainly becoming a matter of great concentration.

But look, that has been referred to the full bench and I will leave it to the court to determine.

Once again, they are the only ones who can make these determinations.

JOURNALIST:

Amongst your meetings today, you’re meeting with the Vietnamese President, Prime Minister as you said. Are there strategic as well as economic discussions that you’re going to be having? Are you looking to build more defence partners in this region?

PRIME MINISTER:

We need to build a stronger partnerships and engagement right across the region in our common quest for greater regional security. This is particularly so with counter-terrorism.

As you know, we’ve been providing assistance and support to the government of the Philippines recently in recent times as they – and are still doing so – as they battle an ISIL insurgency in the southern Philippines and I’ll be talking about that with President Duterte when I see him in a few days.

But it's very important that we work more closely together. I think that one of the natures of the world as it is at the moment, Chris, and I made this point when I spoke at Shangri-La recently is that we no longer have the bipolar world of the Cold War. It’s a much more complicated environment and it's very important for particularly a country of Australia’s size, a middle ranking nation, a country with great authority and leadership and credibility around the world, but particularly in our region, it's very important for us to reach out and engage as widely as possible, and that’s what we do.

JOURNALIST:

Relationship with Vietnam and with Japan and with India, won’t China see that as trying to hedge against its power?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, I will leave those in China to make their own conclusions.

Our commitment is simply to ensure that we do everything we can to maintain the regional peace and stability that for so many decades has been the foundation of the extraordinary rise in prosperity we’ve seen in the region and of course, particularly here in Vietnam.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, just on the TPP, is it a hope or an expectation that you will sign it today?

PRIME MINISTER:

These deals get done when they are done. The negotiators are continuing to negotiate. They have made a lot of progress but the deal is not done until it is completed.

JOURNALIST:

Should the deal be done on TPP-

PRIME MINISTER:

Just hang on a second. Yes?

JOURNALIST:

Should the TPP still be alive this time tomorrow, in which we presume it will be, will you use your talks later this weekend with Donald Trump to urge him to rethink or do you think America's participation is lost cause while Mr Trump remains President?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't think it's a lost cause at all but I don't see President Trump taking a different approach to the TPP any time soon. I am being realistic.

JOURNALIST:

The Japanese Commerce Minister said that there was an in principle agreement – is that wrong?

PRIME MINISTER:

I will wait until the leaders meet later today. That is when we hope to be able to reach agreements. I won’t front run that meeting and that decision.

JOURNALIST:

What will you say to Justin Trudeau about it? My understanding is he is not necessarily as enthusiastic as you are-

PRIME MINISTER:

Sorry, who was that?

JOURNALIST:

Justin Trudeau.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, you would have to speak to the Prime Minister of Canada about that.

JOURNALIST:

But you will be speaking with him this afternoon won’t you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I will be and when we speak, we can perhaps talk about our views then but I haven't met with him today yet.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, have you spoken to the Governor-General and given him an assurance that you can continue to provide stable government even with the citizenship fiasco sweeping Parliament?

PRIME MINISTER:

I never ever comment on discussions with the Governor-General. You’d understand that.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have a view on how many by-elections would be too many? Can you hold 10 or 12 before you have to say we need a whole election?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not going to speculate on that.

The reality is, we've got to go through the process as you know. We've put out a very transparent process where people will be able to disclose all the relevant facts and information, do so in a timely manner, give the Parliament the time to consider it and then the Parliament will determine who should be referred to the High Court and the High Court will make its decisions.

JOURNALIST:

You can’t comment on conversations with the Governor-General, have you had a recent meeting with him about the stability of the government?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sharri, thanks for enquiring but I never comment and I don’t think any prime minister has commented on discussions with the Governor-General.

JOURNALIST:

On Manus Island, time is running out. Is there a compromise that can be reached here?

PRIME MINISTER:

I would ask the people that are remaining in the Refugee Processing Centre at Manus to move to take up the opportunity to move to fully equipped, fully resourced alternative facilities.

The decision to close the Manus RPC was taken by Papua New Guinea. It is after all in Papua New Guinea. It is their country.

The Supreme Court recently affirmed that decision.

So it is very clear what the law of Papua New Guinea is saying and the people that are remaining in the centre should move to other facilities which have got everything that they need - food, water, security, healthcare – all of that is there. And comply with PNG law.

And I just want to say to those activists from Australia, including Nick McKim, who have been going up there and telling these people not to move, they are encouraging them to breach the law of PNG and they are acting in a way contrary to the interests of those refugees and other residents of the RPC. The option is there to move to alternate, very adequate facilities and they should take that up.

Thank you all very much.

[ENDS]