EDDIE MAGUIRE Triple M’s Hot Breakfast, 24 minutes after 6am, the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Julie Bishop is with us this morning.
G’day Julie, thank you for dropping by, lovely to have you here.
JULIE BISHOP Great to be here.
EDDIE MAGUIRE It must be such a horrible, hard situation for you this - one of the great portfolios foreign affairs, getting over, doing so many great things. I thought your work on MH17 was just exemplary and everybody applauded that but unfortunately for you there’s always something on the desk and the Bali situation is one. It’s a reoccurring one in Australian life over the last 30-40 years. What’s the current situation with it?
JULIE BISHOP Currently the Indonesian Government have indicated that there will be a delay in their plans to carry out the executions. We were told that yesterday. That must be a relief to Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan and their families. We will use whatever time we have available to us to engage with the Indonesian Government, at every level, to press the case for opposition to the death penalty in any circumstances but particularly pleading with them not to execute Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan who are changed men. They have rehabilitated, they are a model of what prison systems around the world strive to achieve and that is the rehabilitation of people who have committed serious crimes.
LUKE DARCY Julie can you give us an insight into how this process works and you just mentioned then ‘at the highest level’ is it Prime Minister to President? Does Tony Abbott pick up the phone and directly engage his counterpart and do you do the same with foreign affairs? Do you pick up the phone? Is it dialogue? Is it direct request to say – hey, we need this stopped?
JULIE BISHOP It has been and will continue to be direct personal representations at every level. The Prime Minister, our Governor General has also been involved. I speak directly to Foreign Minister Marsudi. Our Attorney-General, our Minister for Justice, a number of official and unofficial envoys have been to Indonesia and our Ambassador-designate and our Consul General in Bali and all of their consular teams are engaged in this on a daily basis - making representations to officials in various departments because this covers a number of departments in the Indonesian Government, as well as at the leadership level.
This campaign of ours has increased ever since their final clemency pleas were rejected. However there is now another legal avenue available. On the 24th of February the lawyers for Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan have an appeal before the State Administrative Court in Indonesia and we also urge that the Indonesian Government not take any steps in relation to the execution while legal avenues are still open.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Julie you said these guys have completely rehabilitated. Can you give us an insight into these two guys, because a lot of people say, hey they turned up, they were smuggling heroin, we know all that routine, I think people have gone past that a fair bit to be perfectly honest. Give us a bit of an insight into why we’re fighting so hard.
JULIE BISHOP Well Eddie, this is almost 10 years ago. When they were convicted of the very serious crimes of drug trafficking and I don’t condone that in any way, they were serious crimes and they need to repay their debt to society. They need to spend time in prison and that’s what would have happened in Australia.
We oppose the death penalty at home and abroad. We don’t believe that people should pay with their lives for crimes where they have, in this instance, been totally rehabilitated. One has become a priest, the other has become an accomplished artist. They contribute significantly to prison life in Bali. They take classes, they are engaged in the well-being of other prisoners, they raise money, for example Typhoon Haiyan. They have been utterly rehabilitated. They are deeply remorseful for what they did and it is our belief that they should repay their debt to society, but not with their lives.
The contribution that they’re making to other prisoners is something that the Indonesian Government can be proud of achieving - that their prison system has allowed two men, who were convicted of very serious crimes, to be rehabilitated in this way.
LUKE DARCY A side issue Julie, and we support that in every possible way, and I think all our listeners concur with exactly what you said. Is the AFP’s role and Australia’s role in potentially putting Australians into the line of this situation where they can be executed need to be reviewed?
JULIE BISHOP The Australian Federal Police’s role in this is on the public record. There is a very high level of cooperation between Indonesian law enforcement agencies and Australia and I don’t think it’s helpful at this time for me to go over that. My sole focus is on ensuring that we can persuade the Indonesian Government that no good purpose will be served by executing these two young men.
And another point I make is that we’re asking the Indonesian Government to do what the Indonesian Government asks other nations to do for Indonesian citizens who are facing the death penalty in countries overseas. So we are asking Indonesia to apply the same mercy to Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan as they ask for in relation to Indonesian citizens who are on death row.
EDDIE MAGUIRE So a final question on this topic Julie, so what happens from here? Do we really just sit and wait now? That final appeal is that, yet another final appeal I suppose.
JULIE BISHOP We continue to engage at every level, to press the case that these two men’s lives should be spared, that they can make a contribution to prison life in Indonesia, that they have a quality of life. Not one that you, or I, or others would choose, but they do have a quality of life and they don’t deserve to pay with their lives.
And as I say to your listeners – I’m not condoning drug trafficking. It causes untold misery, it can even cause death in some cases but to execute these two young men will not stop the drug trafficking in and out of Indonesia. That is a much broader approach that needs to be undertaken - drug rehabilitation programs, education, law enforcement, so much more that we could be doing with our time and energy and efforts.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Julie, stick with us, we’re going to go to our 6.30am news, lots to talk about. Thank you very much for giving us an insight into what’s going on there because it’s obviously one of the bigger stories of our time and we give you as much strength to your armour as possible in trying to get these guys, to save their lives. It’s as simple as that, it’s a life-saving effort.
EDDIE MAGUIRE The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop with us.
Great to have you in town, in Melbourne.
JULIE BISHOP I’m delighted to be here, I’m doing lots in Melbourne, it’s always a busy time, but this is a busy state, a busy city so I’ll be visiting a number of electorates across Victoria, meeting with local people, talking to businesses and communities.
One of my roles as Foreign Minister is to make foreign policy less “foreign” and to explain to people what I do as Foreign Minister and how it impacts on domestic policy as it does in a number of ways, particularly in the trade and investment area.
EDDIE MAGUIRE And you’re going for a run, you’re doing..
JULIE BISHOP Of course!
EDDIE MAGUIRE Do you get a chance to get out anywhere in Melbourne when you’re in town? Can you get out and have some fun?
JULIE BISHOP I always like to start the day with a run. I didn’t this morning because we got in pretty late from Canberra last night and of course I wanted to be here, bright-eyed and bushy tailed this morning but usually I will go for a run. So I could head down to the Tan tomorrow morning. I’ll see you there Eddie.
EDDIE MAGUIRE You can come down to the Westpac Centre.
LUKE DARCY Ed will be running around in a suit Julie. You won’t be able to miss him. He tends to stand out around the Tan!
JULIE BISHOP With his leather shoes.
LUKE DARCY Exactly.
We all watch the West Wing and we watch all these great American TV shows. Have you lobbed in somewhere overseas and been star struck yourself? With Obama, is there a story you can tell us? It must be an amazing job. You go into these extraordinary places in the world. Have you sat in a meeting and gone I can’t believe..
EDDIE MAGUIRE She’s eye-balled Putin as well.
LUKE DARCY You’ve stared down Putin. Is there one moment like that you can share with us where you thought I can’t believe this is me sitting here in this room.
JULIE BISHOP There’ve been a number of occasions where I have felt utterly privileged to be Australia’s Foreign Minister and representing Australia on the world stage. One that springs to mind is just five days after I’d been sworn in as Foreign Minister I found myself sitting at the UN Security Council with the gavel in my hand chairing the Security Council and it felt really good being able to bang the gavel and tell Secretary of State John Kerry . ‘Sit down, we’ve got business to do here’ but other times, particularly in Washington, of course that is the superpower, the United States and gee don’t they do superpower well in Washington! When you’re running down the Mall in the morning and see those incredible buildings in the Capital and of course I have met with President Obama on a number of occasions.
In January I was invited to the State of the Union address and it was fascinating. I was invited to the drinks beforehand by Speaker John Boehner, a very high profile Republican. I was hanging out with all the Republicans who were telling me what’s wrong with the Obama administration. Then for the State of the Union address I was sitting in the First Lady’s gallery behind her and down seven seats - who’s counting - and of course I was surrounded by the Democrats who were telling me what was right with the country, so their partisan politics is alive and well.
But sitting there and watching the President give a State of the Union address I was the only Minister, the only Foreign Minister, in every sense of the word, in the Capitol Building at that time and that was a pretty special moment.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Our relationship with America is it still strong?
JULIE BISHOP Very strong. They are our closest ally, an indispensable part of our national security arrangements. We have a very close and strong relationship with the United States. They are our largest investor as well. China is our largest two-way trading partner but the United States is the largest foreign direct investor in Australia, so they are a very important friend.
EDDIE MAGUIRE How do you go with the scrutiny? I don’t think you could have done a better job in the last period of time Julie. We’ve been knocked out, our listeners have as well. I pick up the News Ltd today, they’ve got school photos of you in there today. Have you seen them?
JULIE BISHOP I haven’t seen that.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Yes, there’s a photo of you just leaving school.
JULIE BISHOP In school?
EDDIE MAGUIRE Yep they’ve got all the photos..
LUKE DARCY It’s a good photo Julie.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Don’t worry it’s fine but they’ve picked out school photos of all politicians.
LUKE DARCY Julie’s advisers are waving off, I think we’ve gone over time, Julie, I think we’ve got other business to get to with you.
EDDIE MAGUIRE That’s not the one, Jay’s brought one in.
JULIE BISHOP That photograph was taken when I was a lawyer. That’s a good 20 years ago.
EDDIE MAGUIRE The one that’s online is you, I reckon, you look about 15.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Good luck with everything and particularly the situation in Bali and keep doing what you’re doing. It’s fantastic.
JULIE BISHOP Cheers guys I appreciate the time that you’ve taken to have us here and talk about matters that really do count for the Australian people and let’s keep hoping and praying that we can get a stay of execution for Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan.
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