ALAN JONES Foreign Minister Bishop is on the line. Julie, good morning again.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning Alan.
ALAN JONES What is the latest that you can tell us?
JULIE BISHOP We don’t yet have a date for the proposed execution. We have been led to believe that 72 hours’ notice is given to the families and that notice has not yet been given. We are currently seeking access for the families. We understand that there is unlikely to be access over the weekend but we are seeking to have access as early as possible next week. So our consular staff have arrived on the so-called execution island, they will be there supporting the family and providing whatever consular assistance they can.
ALAN JONES Tony Abbott is supposed to have tried – the Prime Minister rather – have tried to speak to the President. Are you aware of whether that conversation has taken place?
JULIE BISHOP I don’t believe that conversation has yet taken place. You will recall that I spoke to you about a conversation I had with Foreign Minister Marsudi on Tuesday evening. I have followed that up with a letter that was delivered yesterday, setting out in more detail the proposal that I had that there be a pause or a moratorium while our officials explore ideas of a prisoner transfer, a prisoner swap or indeed clemency for our two Australians while we sort out some other way of resolving this issue because it is becoming a real problem for both countries.
We will continue to seek a stay of execution, particularly while there are still legal proceedings on foot. But I didn’t put a specific proposal for the Indonesians to reject, I put a proposal that we begin talks about what could be achieved. I’ve not yet heard back from Foreign Minister Marsudi directly, either in response to my phone call or in response to the letter that was delivered yesterday.
ALAN JONES You are used to as part of your job - having been around the world on MH17 and Ukraine - to sort of sniff out if there is in the language, the attitude, the tone, a change of direction, albeit imperceptible. Do you get any of that feeling at all?
JULIE BISHOP Alan, I certainly get that from others in the Indonesian political elite, in the Indonesian political circles, I get a very strong sense that they are feeling uneasy. Indeed it is profoundly sad that it has come to this. So I don’t know if that has influence on the current President and the current administration. But most certainly we are detecting a considerable degree of concern and unease among the higher echelons of the political circle in Indonesia. So while they are still alive I am still hoping that we can get a change of heart.
ALAN JONES What you just said there is confirmed by the logistic. You move them on the one hand and the precedent is you move them and 72 hours before the execution takes place. Now they’ve moved them and the President at least has been specific on that one point that the executions will not take place this week, that is within that 72-hour window. So that must mean something?
JULIE BISHOP That does give us some hope and it also enables the lawyers to continue to press the appeal again the State Administrative Court’s decision to reject their clemency plea. As I have mentioned to you earlier Alan, there are these bribery allegations arising from the original trial that are being considered by a judicial commission and I understand that this commission is seeking a statement from Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan.
So in those circumstances there are still legal avenues to pursue. But that would just be for a stay of execution, we are look for a permanent stay based on the grounds of remorse and rehabilitation and asking Indonesia to do no more than Indonesia asks of other countries and received from other countries, clemency for their citizens who are on death row overseas.
ALAN JONES And the repugnance of course is statutory murder.
JULIE BISHOP Well indeed and we did lodge an official complaint about what I saw as undignified and degrading treatment of the two prisoners during the transfer - that photograph taken and posted online and the disproportionate use and display of force, including a paramilitary escort and planes and military presence and dramatic footage, as if it were some massive military exercise. And it seems that our citizens have been singled out for treatment designed to maximise publicity that was certainly at odds with the treatment of other citizens of other countries in the same position.
ALAN JONES Good to talk to you and thank you for your time. I hope this can be satisfactorily resolved and Australia is grateful for the efforts that you have made.
JULIE BISHOP Thank you Alan.
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