TRANSCRIPT - Sky News PM Agenda, Wednesday 18 February 2015

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Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

DAVID LIPSON, PRESENTER: Well, for the latest on the Bali Nine ringleaders on death row, I'm joined now by the Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek. Thanks very much for your time. You have stayed in very close contact with the Government throughout this. What is the latest you are hearing?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, not just from the Government, David, but from contacts within the legal team and supporters of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. There does appear to have been a delay in transporting these two men to the island where the sentence was to be carried out. Of course, any delay is a good thing. It gives the legal team a greater opportunity to fully test all of the avenues that are available to them.

LIPSON: Does that delay mean the pair won't be executed this month, as far as you understand?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I can only go from the same reports that you’re reading. It certainly does increase hope that the carrying out of the sentence isn’t imminent.

LIPSON: The Prime Minister today issued what many are seeing as his toughest warning yet to Indonesia, where he says that Australia will feel grievously let down if these executions go ahead. He has also reminded Indonesia about the relief in the form of $1 billion in aid after the Boxing Day tsunami that Australia gave Indonesia. He is clearly throwing everything at trying to save these two men. But in your view, it is okay to reference the tsunami and the aid that came after that?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I'm sure what the Prime Minister meant to say is that Australia and Indonesia have been good friends for many, many decades and it is a difficult time at the moment. We are using all of our diplomatic means, formal and informal contacts, around the clock trying to assist these two young men. I think remembering that we have been good friends, Indonesia and Australia, for many decades is part of that.

LIPSON: There has, though, been, particularly in the last week, a whole lot more, as it is termed, megaphone diplomacy. We have always been told that that is not helpful. Why has that begun, from both sides of politics, mind you?

PLIBERSEK: I think we have been taking that advice of diplomats all the way along for years now. Every time there has been a contact at a senior level between the Australian government and the Indonesian government the case of these two young men has been raised. Over the course of five Prime Ministerships, I think it is, five Australian Prime Ministers have raised this with two successive Indonesian Presidents. There has been behind the scenes efforts and quiet diplomacy going on the whole of that time. That has intensified recently because of the end of the moratorium or informal moratorium on the death penalty that we saw under the previous President of Indonesia. So efforts have intensified and some of those efforts have certainly become more public in recent times because it has appeared that the carrying out of the sentence was imminent. I think it is important, even when we are being more public in our urging of Indonesia to show mercy to these two young men, that we continue to remember that the best approach is one that is respectful of Indonesia and its right to make its own laws, but pleads mercy for two young men that Australia believes have fully reformed - are terrific examples of the Indonesian gaol system allowing people to reform and turn their lives around. And we have also said, of course, that it really does weaken Indonesia's argument internationally for its own citizens on death row if they are carrying out the death penalty within Indonesia. So efforts have become more public in recent times but I think it is wise to continue to make those diplomatic approaches in a way that is respectful and consistent about Australia's opposition to the death penalty wherever it occurs.

LIPSON: I know that you have had some direct contact with particularly the families of the two men. Without breaching any privacy, can you give us a sense of how they are doing and also, if you know, how the two men on death row are doing?

PLIBERSEK: Look, the families are devastated. I mean, how could you be anything else? They know that these young men have done the wrong thing but after 10 years in an Indonesian gaol where they have really made huge efforts to turn their lives around, and to influence other prisoners to turn their lives around, to then have this sentence carried out just - you know, they feel like they are having their loved ones ripped from their arms. You know, they are inconsolable. I can't talk about how Andrew and Myuran are doing from any direct contact with them but I'm in direct contact with their families, their legal teams and so on and they are trying to keep their spirits up in the most difficult circumstances.

LIPSON: Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Foreign Minister, we do keep our fingers crossed. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon on PM Agenda.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.


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