SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now. Minister good morning to you.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE What are the chances now that the Indonesian Government will hold up these executions while these appeals are heard?
JULIE BISHOP There are two legal proceedings underway, one in their Constitutional Court and I understand that a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 12 May. In those circumstances I do not believe that any preparations for an execution should take place while there is a legal proceeding underway. There is also an Indonesian Judicial Commission Review into the conduct of the original trial and that is also still underway. So I respectfully request the Indonesian Attorney-General and the President and the Government of Indonesia to allow these two legal proceedings to be determined before they make any preparations for executions.
ANDREW O’KEEFE It doesn't sound terribly hopeful. From what we understand, the Judicial Commission will have - it has no power to set aside the sentencing and the constitutional appeal regardless of the result, would not be retrospective- the outcome of that, so it doesn't really sound terribly hopeful, does it?
JULIE BISHOP As a matter of principle I believe that all legal proceedings should be determined before they go ahead with plans for an execution. I think that is a fundamental and I will continue to make that point. While Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran are alive I will continue to make representations. I have been in touch with Foreign Minister Marsudi on numerous occasions. I spoke to her the other night when I was on my way back from Europe, I was in transit, I telephoned her and made contact with her. The Prime Minister has written to President Widodo again, he has seen him and spoken to him on many occasions.
ANDREW O’KEEFE You would think that one of the two central planks of President Widodo's election was to deal with the endemic corruption in the legal and policing systems in Indonesia, that he would want to see this occur.
JULIE BISHOP Both these legal proceedings do impact on the original trial and on the clemency process. So we continue to request President Widodo to grant clemency to both men. They have been rehabilitated. They are exceedingly remorseful for their very serious crimes but rehabilitation is what penal systems around the world seek to achieve. The rehabilitation of serious drug offenders and in the case of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran they have both made a contribution, they were continuing to make a contribution to prison life in Indonesian. Mr Chan is now an ordained Christian priest. He has been providing spiritual nourishment to the prisoners and Mr Sukumaran is an accomplished artist, he has completed a fine arts degree. This is a remarkable rehabilitation of both men and they deserve a second chance.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE It is a very, very sad situation. Just quickly, reports this morning in the papers that you are considering recalling our Ambassador to Indonesia. Is that true?
JULIE BISHOP I won't go into the details of the consequences should these executions go ahead because I am maintaining my focus on seeking a stay of the executions. So I won't speculate on the consequences but we do ask that these men's lives be spared.
ANDREW O’KEEFE On another matter Foreign Minister, the death toll from the Nepal earthquake is now over 4000 and we know that hundreds of thousands of people are homeless. Supplies are trickling in, though that’s very difficult. Have you had any update on the Australians who have not yet been accounted for?
JULIE BISHOP Sadly one Australian woman, Ms Renu Fotedar, has been confirmed as dead. She died on Mount Everest at the Everest base camp. Her family are there and our Embassy in Nepal are working with the family and so I extend my condolences to them. I spoke to our Ambassador overnight. He said that Australians are now being accounted for, that 1150 Australians are safe and accounted for. There is a rising death toll though of over 4000 and over 6500 people are reported as being injured. We are now providing more humanitarian supplies. A military plane will be delivering humanitarian supplies and should any Australians not be able to leave Kathmandu, if they can contact our Embassy in Nepal then we will be able to give them a lift back to Bangkok so that they could then get a commercial flight out of Bangkok.
But yes it is a tragic scene and we extend our condolences to the people of Nepal and the Nepalese Government and stand ready to assist in whatever way we can. There is a huge international effort underway and we are working with other countries to ensure that humanitarian supplies can get to those who need them as soon as possible.
ANDREW O’KEEFE I mean, it is amazing how many countries are already on board with this, isn’t it? Nepal is such a well-loved country.
JULIE BISHOP It is. There are ten international partners already on the search and rescue side of things. Many medical teams have already landed there. We have sent medical personnel. We have also sent a crisis research - sorry, a Crisis Rescue Team, I am getting a bit tongue tied. We will continue to provide whatever support we can and work with the Nepalese Government to coordinate the effort, make sure that the humanitarian relief gets to those on the ground. It's a devastating situation.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE All right, Foreign Minister, thank you for your time this morning.
JULIE BISHOP My pleasure.
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