THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
FRIDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2015
SUBJECT: Bali Nine.
LORETTA RYAN, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition joins us now. Tanya, that must have been a pretty hard and emotional time for you in Parliament yesterday. Why did you decide to share your story?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well I don’t normally talk about my personal life at work. But I think these two young men, Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, in Indonesia, I feel so sorry for them. You know, they’ve absolutely done the wrong thing and I think it’s quite proper that they serve a very long gaol sentence and maybe even the rest of their lives if that’s what Indonesia law says. But the reason I shared my story yesterday was because thirty years ago my husband did something very wrong, but he’s managed to turn his life around and more importantly he makes a really strong contribution to our community now as a father, as a husband and through his work as well. And I just wish for these young men that they have the same opportunity to repay their debt to society. No one’s saying they haven’t done the wrong thing, of course they’ve done the wrong thing, they’ve done something very seriously wrong. But taking away their lives doesn’t help our society in any way, it just means that they can’t repay the debt.
SKIPPEN: You’re right, Tanya. I thought it was brave of you yesterday, and I know you’ve never shirked that- I knew your story and your husband’s story before, but to share it in the public forum now on record in the Federal Parliament, I thought it was a very, very brave move by you. Do you get disappointed by the, I guess it’s a red neck attitude from elements of our society here, when they say ‘well they’ve done the crime, they knew what could’ve happened to them, so it’s going to happen now, so suck it up’?
PLIBERSEK: I actually do understand that point of view. It is true that if you are in another country, you abide by the laws of that country. I completely respect the Indonesian government’s right to set harsh penalties to what they see as a huge problem. They’ve got a lot of people dying from drug abuse in Indonesia so I’m not surprised that they’re trying to tackle it in a tough way. I understand people saying ‘you’re in Indonesia, you abide by Indonesia laws’, that’s true. I’m not arguing that Indonesian laws shouldn’t be applied, what I’m asking for is mercy and the opportunity for these two young men to repay their debt to society. Nobody’s saying they shouldn’t have been caught, they shouldn’t have been convicted. I completely accept all of that.
The point is, if you take their lives, does it really teach anyone not to do the same crime? There’s a lot of evidence that says the death penalty is not a deterrent. If it was a deterrent, you wouldn’t have countries like the United States that have very tough applications of the death penalty, you’d have less crime there but it hasn’t shown up as less crime in the United States. So I guess the question is, are you just punishing these young men as an act of retribution or is it a genuine - I mean, they can’t reform themselves if this punishment is carried out. The other thing, I guess, I really think about a lot is, if Michael had been in this situation thirty years ago, if he had been caught in a country with the death penalty, his mother would’ve - that would’ve been the end of her. As it is now, she suffered through a lot when he went to gaol, as these young men’s families are suffering with them, but to have their lives taken away, that’s a life sentence for their families too.
RYAN: Tanya, we’re trying to save them at the eleventh hour, was enough done before this years ago? Couldn’t we have done something to plead for their mercy then?
PLIBERSEK: A lot of work has been going on over very many years. Every Prime Minister, the last five Prime Ministers have raised this at a presidential level each time they’ve met with the Indonesian President. Most of this work is being done behind the scenes. All of our diplomatic advice has been that making a big scene and a carry on is really counterproductive. So at a Prime Ministerial to a Presidential level, Foreign Minister to Foreign Minister, when I met the previous Foreign Minister in Indonesia, every time, the case of these young men has been raised. And we’ve even used in more recent times a whole lot of other Australian business people working in Indonesia, former Ambassadors, all sorts of people who might have some influence. But that’s all been done behind the scenes because all of our advice has been that making an issue of it would be counterproductive.
SKIPPEN: Looks like at the moment we have a new President who wants to make a mark. We appreciate your time this morning and thank you so much for sharing your story on the Federal floor yesterday.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you for inviting me onto the show.