LISA WILKINSON Joining us now Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Good morning to you Foreign Minister.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning Lisa.
LISA WILKINSON Your reaction to this news?
JULIE BISHOP I'm utterly dismayed that the news is out that Andrew and Myrun are to be moved to this “execution island”. It is absolutely devastating news for the two men and their families.
I telephoned Foreign Minister Marsudi, I set out the reasons why the Government believes there should be a stay of the executions. First, the fact that they have been rehabilitated in the ten years that they have spent in jail in the most remarkable way. There are still legal avenues open to them. One is the proposed appeal from their lawyers, another is a hearing on corruption charges relating to their trial. My position is that it would be totally unacceptable, indeed unthinkable, for planning for executions to take place while these legal avenues remain open.
Finally, I asked that President Widodo show mercy and forgiveness, just as Indonesia asks other countries to show mercy and forgiveness for Indonesian citizens who find themselves on death row overseas.
LISA WILKINSON And what reaction did you get?
JULIE BISHOP As previously she said she would take the matter up with the President immediately and I have no reason to doubt her. I believe that she will raise these matters again with the President. She also undertook to provide more information to me from the Indonesian Attorney-General because I asked that the Australian Government be informed of the planning and any proposed date for these executions. To date we have not received that information.
LISA WILKINSON So the Indonesian Government are not keeping in touch with you with the developments?
JULIE BISHOP They are in touch with our consular officials in Bali but we’ve not been provided any official information as to the proposed transfer of Mr Sukumaran or Mr Chan nor the proposed date of the executions and I asked that the Australian Government be kept informed.
LISA WILKINSON Diplomacy to this point does not appear to be working Foreign Minister. Is it time that the Australian Government made clear your dissatisfaction and the possible repercussions should these men face the firing squad without all legal avenues exhausted.
JULIE BISHOP I don't believe the Indonesian Government is in any doubt at all as to the Australian Government’s views in this matter. We have been making representations constantly over the past ten years but since the clemency pleas were turned down in January, our campaign to seek a stay of execution, clemency for these men, has been at the highest level. It has been consistent; it has been detailed in that we have gone to every avenue available to us.
Lisa, I cannot think of any more that we can do but continue to make representations to the decision makers and directly to the President. After all, Prime Minister Abbott has made a number of representations, personal representations directly to President Widodo. Under Indonesian law the President can show mercy, can show forgiveness by granting a stay of execution.
I would argue that mercy and forgiveness has as big a place in Indonesian legal concepts as it does in Australia. That is why we are continuing to urge that there be a stay of execution and that they show forgiveness to these men who have rehabilitated, who are making a positive contribution to the lives of other prisoners in Indonesia's jails. In fact, they have achieved, in Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan, what our jail systems around the world long to aspire to and that is the rehabilitation of those who have engaged in serious drug offences.
LISA WILKINSON So will there be repercussions from the Australian Government if these men are executed without legal avenues exhausted?
JULIE BISHOP Lisa, there is already a lot of discussion between the Australian Government and the Indonesian Government and I can assure you that the Indonesian Government is in no doubt about how we feel about the death penalty in particular. We oppose the death penalty at home and abroad, as does Indonesia in relation to its citizens abroad and that we will leave no stone unturned in seeking clemency for these men.
I am sure that Indonesia understands that this will have consequences because not only Australia but a number of other countries have their citizens on death row. There are French citizens, Brazilians, citizens from the Netherlands, from Mali, from Nigeria - there are many other countries involved in this and so Indonesia is receiving representations, not only from Australia, but from other nations as well.
LISA WILKINSON Have you spoken to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran's families since this news broke?
JULIE BISHOP I am speaking to them today. We are lining up phone calls today.
LISA WILKINSON Let's move on now to Iraq and the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday of a fresh deployment of 300 Australian troops there. Minister we spent $25 billion last time to train the Iraqi army and the job wasn't done. How much will this exercise cost?
JULIE BISHOP We are only in the planning stages. We are preparing a deployment to go to Iraq, to continue to advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces. The planning is underway and those details will obviously be known once the planning has been completed and I expect that to be in a couple of weeks.
LISA WILKINSON The PM has said that this won’t be a case of mission creep but the question is, is it a case of mission impossible? We have seen Iraqi troops in combat put down their guns, take off their uniform and simply run away. Is it really doable? Is it a good idea to put an extra 300 Australian troops in harm's way when this is what they are dealing with?
JULIE BISHOP Well since that incident we have had the Coalition air strikes, led by the United States and other nations. Those air strikes have made a significant difference. We have also had a number of countries become involved in this Coalition of countries who are providing support for training of the Iraqi Security Forces - Spain, Germany, Italy, Canada, New Zealand as well as the United States, Britain and others are involved in the training of the Iraqi security forces.
But Iraq cannot be left to face Daesh and its barbarity alone. We have to starve Daesh of its foreign fighters, its financing and other resources it uses to carry out terrorist activities. Australia has a national interest in stopping, deterring and defeating Daesh because we have seen terrorist attacks attempted here. We know that there are at least 90 Australians who are supporting Daesh in Syria and Iraq and we want to prevent them as hardened terrorists coming back to Australia or indeed going to any other country to carry out terrorist attacks there.
We must support the Iraqi Government. They have sought our support, we must support the Iraqi Government in building capability so that they can take back territory, only Iraq can take back its own territory, and defeat this barbarous terrorist organisation that is creating so much havoc. We have made progress and I believe our response is proportionate, it is not open-ended and it will make a positive difference.
LISA WILKINSON Well we can only hope this time it is going to work.
Foreign Minister, thank you for qualifying that for us this morning, have a good day.
JULIE BISHOP Thank you Lisa.
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