JOURNALIST Julie Bishop, good morning.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning Blackers, Carmen, Fitzi. How are you all?
JOURNALIST Yeah very well thank you Julie, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. You seem to be relishing this new role of yours, the Foreign Affairs portfolio. Are you loving it?
JULIE BISHOP Well I absolutely love the challenges and I’m so privileged to represent Australia on the world stage. It is a role I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and in fact I was the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs for about four years and then when we won the election in 2013 I was honoured to be able to take on the role and it certainly has had some incredible opportunities but also considerable challenges, so it keeps me very busy.
JOURNALIST Challenge is right, some of the things you’re dealing with right now are of a very very heavy nature indeed. What is the latest you can tell us about the fate of those two Bali 9 ringleaders in Indonesia?
JULIE BISHOP We are still making representations to the Indonesian Government, particularly to President Widodo, because under Indonesian law he is the only person who can grant clemency, or a stay of executions. There are currently still some legal proceedings underway and we understand that no further action will be taken while those legal avenues are still open.
In the meantime, we are making representations via various channels, including directly to our counterpart Ministers, but there are a number of other religious, business, political leaders who are also appealing to Indonesia to show mercy to these two young Australians. In fact, that’s precisely what Indonesia does for its citizens, it seeks clemency, or stays of execution when Indonesian citizens face the death penalty in other countries, including for drug offences.
JOURNALIST Julie, any frustration for you on how you’ve been received, how you’ve been spoken to, handled by certain members of the Indonesian Government?
JULIE BISHOP Well I have learned a good deal of the developments in this case through the Indonesian media rather than through diplomatic channels, including statements by Indonesian Ministers and spokesmen. But we’ve always emphasised with the greatest of respect that we understand the management of Indonesia’s justice and jail system are matters for Indonesia. We’re not seeking to negotiate a clemency plea, the decision is one that rests solely with the Indonesian President. What we are seeking to do is what Indonesia has done so successfully, to advocate for its citizens on death row abroad.
JOURNALIST Now we understood that you made an offer there in the last day or two regarding keeping them alive in Indonesia and paying or footing the bill. I saw on Sky News this morning that more offers could be made to Indonesia in return for clemency, are you sort of, able to let us know what those are? Or you’ve got to keep those to yourself?
JULIE BISHOP There isn’t any particular proposal. What I was seeking to do was open discussions between officials so that we could explore opportunities so I was putting forward different options that they might wish to consider, subject to them being available under Indonesian law and Australian law, so I just came up with a range of proposals but none of them went into any details and I’m still waiting to hear back from Indonesia as to whether they wanted to discuss any of these proposals.
The response I’ve heard through the media is that Indonesia does not wish to negotiate clemency pleas. Well what I’m actually doing is advocating for a stay of execution and we’ve said we’re leaving no stone unturned and it’s natural that we would make offers of cooperation to Indonesia in this context. So I’m not seeking to negotiate their clemency, what I’m seeking to do is suggest that there are areas where we could cooperate.
And I could see no good purpose served at all in executing two young men who have been truly rehabilitated. I’ve spoken to them both when they were in jail, I have met with their families. I’ve spoken to many people who’ve been working with them. Indeed, the prison Governors say they are now models of rehabilitation and making a positive contribution such that it is, through their quality of life, to other prisoners who are being rehabilitated. Now this is something that prison systems around the world aspire to achieve, that is the rehabilitation of people who have been convicted of very serious offences, including drug offences.
JOURNALIST Yes, are you surprised by some of the attitude of the community of Australia? So many people are going – ‘just shoot ‘em, get it over and done with’. They actually don’t care, they start going on about the heroin and ‘they knew the risks’, all that sort of stuff. What’s your attitude about that?
JULIE BISHOP I understand that many people have been devastated by the drug trade and I don’t understate for a moment the gravity of what Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan did. They were part of a drug ring bringing heroin into Australia and that can cause untold misery including death. But my point is, now that they’ve been rehabilitated over ten years since these crimes were committed as young men they should be given a second chance at life. Now I’m not asking for them to be released, they would stay in an Indonesian jail for the rest of their lives - they are only in their early 30s now - stay there for the rest of their lives, so they would be repaying their debt to society by supporting and helping other prisoners, contributing to the rehabilitation of other people. So I think put their lives to a purpose, not execute them for no purpose.
JOURNALIST Thanks for that Julie, talking about that subject, a lot of people have wanted to hear more about it. I just want to change topic for just a second. How was it to see your man David driving around a racetrack Julie? Is it true do men look sexier when they are driving a race car?
JULIE BISHOP Well, he’s looking pretty good.
JOURNALIST Dangerous territory!
JOURNALIST We were talking about that earlier.
JOURNALIST He is looking pretty good.
JULIE BISHOP Why were you talking about that?
JOURNALIST Because Carmen was looking at a photo of David going ‘he’s a very good looking man’.
JOURNALIST He’s a bit of a dish. He’s pretty tasty!
JOURNALIST Ms Bishop could I point out it was the boys who noticed how good looking he was.
JULIE BISHOP Now the truth comes out, now the truth comes out.
JOURNALIST Julie how are you going with your running?
JULIE BISHOP Yes, still running, I love it. Either down at the beach in Cottesloe, or down at the river when I’m in Perth. Over the weekend we were down at Leeuwin for the Leeuwin Concert and down at Injidup beach running up and down those sand hills.
JOURNALIST Oh yeah, good sand hills there.
JOURNALIST I tell you what, I really laughed when you were in China and you rolled up for the run and Chinese security rolled up in their suits!
JULIE BISHOP Well I don’t know that they took me seriously. When they got the message that I go for a run in the morning they all turned up in black suits, white shirts, the same tie, black leather shoes. And we started running, and they started running and I kept running and they kept running and the pitter patter of these leather shoes on the pavement just had me in stitches.
JOURNALIST It was hilarious.
JULIE BISHOP But after 6kms, the next day when they turned up, they all had matching running gear on.
And you used to be a member of the board of the Eagles too. Do you still get to see the odd game occasionally?
JULIE BISHOP Well I’m hoping to this year. I saw the Eagles in Canberra recently, Shannon Hurn and Matt Priddis and Trevor Nesbitt and the team came over to meet politicians and parliamentarians in Canberra and I thought it was a great thing to do - West Coast Eagles Day in the national capital. And I caught up with the boys and they are looking forward to a good season and I certainly follow them closely. I keep in touch with members of the board and always tip them, always tip the Eagles to win. Go Eagles!
JOURNALIST Me too. Carmen and Fitzi are Dockers supporters so just keep that in mind.
JULIE BISHOP I’m sorry to hear that.
JOURNALIST All that running in the morning, the best representation Australia could hope for on the international stage, all of those things are wonderful but you know a blind footy tipper, we’ll forgive you for that. No wonder you are Western Australia’s most inspiring woman of the year Julie Bishop. Thank you so much for your time.
JULIE BISHOP Thanks Carmen, thanks Blacker, thanks Fitzi. Cheers.
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