THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THURSDAY, 05 MARCH 2015
Subject: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran
LORETTA RYAN, PRESENTER: What was it like there at the vigil this morning, the show of support, but what was the feeling?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Look, it was a very sombre feeling. I think people feel now that the young men have been moved, we really- the feeling has very strongly intensified that the carrying out of the sentence might be imminent and I think many Australians feel quite helpless in the face of this. And so coming together and being able to show that we are united across political lines and across the Australian community in saying that we hope that the death penalty won’t be carried out in this instance because these young men have reformed their lives but that also we are opposed to the death penalty as a matter of principle. I think it was a very important thing this morning.
IAN SKIPPEN, PRESENTER: Now you are the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and I know that you have dealt with the Indonesian government. This show of force yesterday, was it purely a chest beating exercise to the rest of the world?
PLIBERSEK: I can’t understand why it was thought necessary to have all of this military accompaniment. I actually- I can’t explain it to you. I think it was a curious decision.
RYAN: We’ve never seen that before, maybe it’s just the fact that we’ve never seen any drug runners being transferred before like that. Do you think though now with this prisoner transfer suggestion that Julie Bishop has mentioned, do you think that is likely to happen?
PLIBERSEK: I certainly hope it’s possible for it to happen. I think we need to continue to try every diplomatic method, every formal and informal channel we have, every opportunity for communication. Certainly that’s what I’ll be doing and I’m sure the Government has also been using any person they can think of that may be able to influence the President of Indonesia to make contact to plead for the lives of these two young men.
RYAN: But Tanya, why should we ask for a prisoner transfer for them when we didn’t do it for Schapelle Corby, for instance? I think it was brought up during her time there.
PLIBERSEK: Well, Schapelle Corby wasn’t facing the death penalty.
RYAN: She was still in there for a long time though, wasn’t she?
PLIBERSEK: That’s true and I think it’s very well worth having a more general conversation about prisoner transfer programs with Indonesia, but we are at a very critical stage now where two young men are facing the worst possible penalty and I think that really our focus needs to be on them.
SKIPPEN: Tanya you just mentioned before that you will do some work, do you work closely with for instance Julie Bishop, or are your lines of communication with people that you’ve had past dealings with in Indonesia?
PLIBERSEK: Well both, so Julie Bishop, Christine Milne and I, for example have written together to the Indonesian Foreign Minister. I’ve written and spoken separately to Indonesians in Australia who might be able to influence the Government. I’ve spoken to Indonesians in Indonesia who have relations with the President and his office. And of course to Australians, to people who have a long association with Indonesia to ask them, or anyone who might be able to influence this situation to use whatever influence they have.
SKIPPEN: So all of those words, all of that communication, going behind the scenes from all levels of Government, friends, religious organisations, still falls on deaf ears?
PLIBERSEK: Well I think we need to use every opportunity, exhaust every channel, and I’ve been saying for a while that while there’s life there’s hope. I think it’s important to use every opportunity we still have to try and influence the President of Indonesia to consider the fact that he’s got almost 230 of his own citizens on death row around the world. And that it makes it much harder for Indonesia to plead for clemency for its own citizens if it’s not prepared to show that same clemency to the citizens of other nations who are facing the death penalty in Indonesia. And the other thing of course we ask the Indonesian President to consider is that these two young men - have 100% done the wrong thing, they should be punished, but in that punishment, in the gaol that they’ve been in, they’ve been able to reform themselves and they’re playing a positive role in reforming other prisoners. They’ve been setting an example for people to turn their lives around. And I think that that is an opportunity that the Indonesian goal system shouldn’t miss, and an opportunity for these young men to repay their debt to Indonesian society that the Indonesians should accept.
SKIPPEN: Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs speaking to us just now from the post-vigil in Canberra this morning.