MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Okay, something in your own portfolio just quickly to end on – the Bali Nine. The families arrived last night. Have you spoken to them?
JULIE BISHOP Yes, I have. I spoke to the families yesterday. They are, in fact, on their way back from Indonesia. They spent some time with our Embassy in Indonesia. We provided them with consular support. I had a long conversation with them yesterday. They were at the Embassy. I have met with them before and I just say to people, put yourself in their shoes. It’s heartbreaking to talk to them.
The challenge we have is that Indonesia is a fiercely sovereign, independent nation. Drug trafficking is an offence that attracts the death penalty and both Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan have been found guilty of drug trafficking and they are on death row – they are facing the death penalty.
We are doing absolutely everything we can in terms of representations at the highest level, from the President and the President’s office, the Foreign Minister to the Attorney-General and other, we believe, influential Indonesian figures have been contacted by people in Australia. We’re doing all we can. We don’t flag it all through the media, because I don’t want to do anything that would precipitate an unfavourable outcome. So, we’re working very closely with our Indonesian colleagues, with officials in Indonesia. We’re seeking a stay of execution and we’re seeking a reconsideration of the clemency pleas.
And the point I keep making is that they have both been rehabilitated over the last 10 years and this should be a positive for the Indonesian prison system. They have been able to achieve, with Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan, what other prison systems around the world would love to be able to achieve and that is the rehabilitation of prisoners who have clearly lost their way through the drug trade.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Just finally, do you believe that there should be an inquiry into the AFP’s actions into the arrest of the Bali Nine, and particularly now that these two young men are facing the death sentence?
JULIE BISHOP What the AFP did is on the public record and there is a very high level of cooperation between Australia and Indonesia, not only in law enforcement and policing, but security and intelligence, there’s a very high level of cooperation.
I say again, Indonesia has the death penalty for drug offences. If people are found guilty of drug trafficking in Indonesia, they run the risk of the death penalty. This is the challenge we have to deal with. We now have two Australians who are facing the death penalty…
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Was it right for the AFP to tip the Indonesian off, though? That’s the question.
JULIE BISHOP I’m not about to question the AFP’s operational matters. There is a high level of cooperation between Australia and Indonesia on law enforcement. It is to our benefit on many occasions. On this occasion it was not to the benefit of the two individuals involved, but I am not going to question the AFP’s operations in working to defeat the scourge of drug trafficking in and out of Australia.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Julie Bishop, thanks very much for joining us.
JULIE BISHOP My pleasure.
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