OPINION PIECE - Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

OPINION PIECE

MR CHAN AND MR SUKUMARAN

Recently, while in gaol in Indonesia, Andrew Chan wrote a letter to his teenage self.

In the letter he says:

"Your family and your friends are heartbroken and your life will be ended by a firing squad.

"I have missed weddings. I've missed funerals and the simple presence of my own family. The hurt and pain - I don't just put it on to myself. But the pain I put on my family is agonising.”

There aren’t many people who’d fail to be moved by those words.

They give us some understanding of the heartache, and the guilt felt by this son, brother, cousin.

That said, of course prison is not meant to be easy. It’s punishment. And it’s an opportunity to reform.

Both Andrew and his co-convicted, Myuran Sukumaran, know they committed a very serious crime. They have demonstrated genuine remorse. But they know they must pay a heavy price. They know their time in prison is an opportunity to repay their debt to society.

By all reports, during their decade in gaol, both young men have made exemplary efforts to rehabilitate themselves, as well as other prisoners. Even the Governor of the prison has commended their work.

Andrew has become a pastor. Myuran has trained as an artist. They have facilitated educational courses for others prisoners including English language classes, painting classes, drawing, music, dance, fitness and basic computer skills. They have helped coordinate fundraising activities both to improve the prison facilities and to support the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Allowed life, the example of Andrew and Myuran’s reform shows the strength of the Indonesian justice system.

Death weakens Indonesia’s ability to plead mercy for its own citizens facing execution around the world – currently some 229 people.

And death would rob Indonesia of two young men who want to continue repaying their debt to society.

I have a particularly strong view on remorse and redemption because of experiences in my own life.

A few weeks ago I made a speech in the Parliament about Andrew and Myuran.

In that speech, I mentioned the example of my husband. In 1988, nearly 30 years ago and long before I knew him, my husband left prison after being convicted of being part of a conspiracy to import heroin.

Re-hab and prison as a very young man probably saved his life, and more importantly, allowed him to show remorse and reform. Leaving prison, he has spent every day since repaying his debt to society.

Had my husband been subject to death penalty, I think about what the world would have missed out on.

The world would have missed out on the three beautiful children that we’ve had together. It would have missed out on a man who spent the rest of his life making amends for the crime he committed.

I rarely talk about my private life in public.  But I shared that story was because I think it’s important for everyone, especially family and friends, to see that while there’s life, there’s hope. While there’s life, there’s opportunity to reform. While there’s life, there’s potential to repay a debt to society. Death extinguishes these things forever.

The reason Andrew Chan’s words to his teenage self are so heart-wrenching is because they remind us that the death penalty is not just a sentence on these two young men, but on all those who love them.

I plead with the Indonesian Government to show them mercy.

This article was originally published in MAMAMIA on Tuesday the 9th of March 2015.

Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - Triggs Attack Compromises UN Human Rights Council Bid

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS 

MEDIA RELEASE

TRIGGS ATTACK COMPROMISES UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL BID

 WEDNESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2015

Labor is concerned the Abbott Government’s disgraceful attack on the President of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, is not only improper treatment of an independent statutory office holder, but will also compromise Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council is the UN body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights. In considering Australia’s bid for a seat, Labor believes the international community will take an extremely dim view of the Abbott Government’s political interference with an independent statutory office holder undertaking her role in accordance with the law.

It was revealed in Senate hearings yesterday that the Abbott Government offered alternative work to Professor Triggs in an apparent inducement to give up her statutory role as President, which has a five year fixed term.

Professor Triggs is an eminent international lawyer of great integrity. Since her appointment in 2012 she has carried out her role with distinction.

Earlier this month, in response to the Abbott Government’s criticism of Professor Triggs, a UN working group urged Australia to “respect the rule of law and the international system for the protection of human rights by according the Australian Human Rights Commission and its President the respect that its role as the national human rights institution and her personal authority and high reputation require.”

The International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has also raised serious concerns about the Australian Government’s behaviour in a letter sent to Prime Minister Abbott.

The former Labor Government announced Australia’s candidature for the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.

 

 

1 reaction Share

STATEMENT - Message in Support of the Mercy Campaign

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY


STATEMENT

 MESSAGE IN SUPPORT OF THE MERCY CAMPAIGN

SUNDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2015

I commend the tireless work of the Mercy Campaign in support of clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Your petition of more than 150,000 signatures shows that Australians stand with you, shoulder to shoulder.

These two young men have done the wrong thing.  They have broken the law, and deserve to be punished.

But the Opposition is united with the Government in urging mercy for Andrew and Myuran.

We oppose the death penalty, for every offence, for everyone, everywhere.

Andrew and Myuran have demonstrated genuine remorse.  Over many years they have made enormous efforts to rehabilitate themselves, and to help reform other prisoners.  They deserve an opportunity to continue repaying their debt to society.

Indonesia pleads mercy for many of its own citizens on death row overseas.  Australia only pleads the same.

Our thoughts are with Andrew, Myuran, their families, and friends.

While there is life there is hope.  We will not give up.
 

 

Add your reaction Share

STATEMENT - Anwar Ibrahim

coats arms

THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY 


STATEMENT
 

ANWAR IBRAHIM

TUESDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2015 

Labor expresses our grave concern that Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has lost his final appeal against a conviction on the charge of sodomy.

It is understood Mr Anwar was sentenced to five years jail, which Labor believes is particularly harsh.

Malaysia is a good friend of Australia.  On that basis we respectfully request that consideration be given to the human rights implications of cases like Mr Anwar's.

 


 

Add your reaction Share

STATEMENT - Ukraine Statement

coats arms

THE HON. BILL SHORTEN

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY


STATEMENT

  

UKRAINE 

 

MONDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2015

Labor is very concerned about the continuing conflict in Ukraine.

Reports indicate that since April 2014, more than 5,300 people have been killed in the fighting.  That includes 38 Australians who tragically lost their lives when Russian backed rebels shot down Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine.    

Russia must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.  It is completely unacceptable that Russia has failed to act in accordance with the agreement reached in Minsk last September.

We urge all parties to resolve their concerns diplomatically, without further bloodshed.  We welcome talks scheduled for this week between France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia.

Australia has been directly affected by this terrible conflict.  The Government must be doing all it can to help bring about a peaceful resolution. 

Add your reaction Share

STATEMENT - The Hon. Tom Uren

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

STATEMENT

THE HON. TOM UREN AC

 MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015

Tom Uren was, to me and so many of my generation in Labor politics, our great inspiration, our elder statesman, and an unstintingly generous and loving mentor and friend.

Among the last veterans of World War II to serve in the House of Representatives, Tom’s wartime experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese left him not with bitterness, but with an abiding conviction of the importance of mutual support and collective aid – of the strong helping the weak, the well helping the ill, of those who could bear a heavier burden willingly shouldering that load in the interests of all.

It left him, too, with a great faith in the power of love versus hate.  He would always emphasise to those of us to whom he so willingly gave his time, his wisdom, and his experience, that there is no profit in hate, either in personal relationships or in politics.  He would quote Martin Luther King’s words, that hate scars the soul.

Loving as he was, he could still be tough: tough in the pursuit of fairness, justice, and peace, tough in his battles to protect the Sydney Harbour foreshore for public use and to restore and invigorate the working-class neighbourhoods of inner Sydney.  And if you disappointed him, or he disagreed with you, he let you know.

The face of our city, and the survival of the working-class communities within the inner city areas, is down to Tom.  He lived a long and a rich and full life, but the legacy he left us will last far longer.

He was one of Labor’s, and the Left’s, great champions, never hesitating to state his beliefs, always ready to speak out for the voiceless, the dispossessed, for those in need.

We are all the poorer for losing him.  He was much loved throughout the Party, and will be very greatly missed.

 

 

Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - Julie Bishop and Alexander Downer Have Serious Questions to Answer

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

JULIE BISHOP AND ALEXANDER DOWNER HAVE SERIOUS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER 

 THURSDAY, 22 JANUARY 2015   

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and Australia's High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer have serious questions to answer about reports that Liberal Party President, Richard Alston, and a billionaire hedge fund manager were allowed to host a lavish private party at Australia's official diplomatic residence in London.

Ms Bishop and Mr Downer, a former Liberal Foreign Minister, must immediately explain whether the taxpayer funded residence was used in any way to help raise money for the Liberal Party, or the UK Conservative Party.

If there is nothing to hide, the guest list and any costs incurred should be released in full to the public.

Reports suggest that the High Commissioner, Mr Downer, did not attend the party.

Ms Bishop and Mr Downer must also say why they think it is appropriate to lend the residence for entertaining purposes, especially if the High Commissioner is not present.

Who else have they allowed to use the High Commissioner's residence in this way?

It's understood it is extremely unusual for the High Commissioner not to be present for functions hosted at the official residence, given the importance of keeping things like sensitive communications equipment secure.

 

     

Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - Boko Haram Attack in Nigeria

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

MEDIA RELEASE

BOKO HARAM ATTACK IN NIGERIA

 

MONDAY, 12 JANUARY 2015

Labor is extremely disturbed by reports that as many as 2,000 people have been killed in Nigeria as part of the latest attack by listed terrorist organisation Boko Haram.

Reports suggest that many of the victims were children, women, and the elderly. News of this horrific incident follows a string of other attacks by Boko Haram, including the kidnapping last year of more than 200 girls from a Nigerian secondary school.

The Australian Government must condemn any such attacks in the strongest possible terms.

These terrible events underscore how important it is for Australia, and others, to help improve stability in the region - including through our overseas aid program.

That’s why it’s so disappointing that in just over a year the Abbott Government has cut more than $118 million from Australian aid to Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

STATEMENT - Martin Place Tragedy

coats-arms.jpg 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

STATEMENT

MARTIN PLACE TRAGEDY

Australians are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the deaths overnight of two of the hostages in the siege in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones, and all those who have been affected by this ordeal.

We respect and appreciate the professionalism of our police and the determination of the wider community to reject the division and fear this abhorrent act was designed to engender.

TUESDAY, 16 DECEMBER 2014

Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - UN World Food Program Funding Crisis

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

  

MEDIA RELEASE

 

UN WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FUNDING CRISIS

 

 TUESDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2014

The Abbott Government must act immediately to help relieve the UN World Food Program’s (WFP) funding crisis which threatens to see more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees go hungry through winter.

The WFP says it has been forced to suspend its food voucher program for Syrian refugees due to lack of funding.  It has called for $US64 million immediately so support can be resumed this month. 

Instead of threatening further cuts to Australia’s overseas aid budget, the Abbott Government must step up and contribute funds to help resolve this terrible humanitarian emergency.

This WFP food voucher program allows Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to buy food in local shops.

The conflict in Syria has caused an overwhelming humanitarian crisis, with 3 million refugees, and another 6.5 million internally displaced.  This has put significant pressure on international aid agencies, including the WFP.

I visited Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon earlier this year.  The need there is enormous.  The international community, including Australia, can’t let those families, those children, go through winter without food.

The Abbott Government has only contributed about $35 million to humanitarian relief for the Syrian crisis.  By contrast, the former Labor Government delivered around $100 million in assistance.

In its first Budget, the Abbott Government has cut $7.6 billion from overseas aid, including $51.1 million from the Middle East and North Africa.

By contrast, the former Labor Government almost doubled the aid budget – from $2.9 billion to $5.7 billion.

 

 

Add your reaction Share