THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
WEDNESDAY, 04 MARCH 2015
Subject: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran
DAVID LIPSON, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, thanks so much for your time. These two Australian men now being moved, what’s your understanding of what this means for the timeline in terms of their sentence being carried out?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, I don’t think it is actually productive for me to talk about that at the moment. The Indonesian government do normally give 72 hours notice to the families of people in this situation, but when that 72 hours notice might start is a matter that is not established yet. I think the important thing to be saying at this stage is that there are still two legal challenges underway and that those legal challenges must be allowed to run their course. We need to continue to say to the Indonesian Government that with almost 230 of own their citizens on death row around the world that they weaken their case to the governments of other nations when they’re pleading for clemency for their own people. And we must continue to say that these two young men are an example of the power of the Indonesian corrective system to actually rehabilitate - rehabilitate prisoners. These young men have obviously rehabilitated themselves but they are also contributing to the rehabilitation of other prisoners.
LIPSON: As you say, those legal and diplomatic channels are still being pursued, but this morning the Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the Indonesians’ position is hardening. Do we need to be preparing for the worst now?
PLIBERSEK: I think where there is life there is hope, and we need to as an opposition, we will do everything we can to support the Government, as they did when we were the Government, to plead for clemency for these two young men. And if there is, I have been in contact with the legal team this morning, and if there is anything we can do to support the legal actions that are underway, of course we will do that. I think it is very important to continue to make the case in every formal way and every informal way that we can.
LIPSON: You’ve spoken, as you mentioned, to the legal team. So what have they told you? What are their plans for action over the coming days?
PLIBERSEK: Well I won’t go into that, what I will say is that they are engaged in these two continuing actions. One of which is, has a kind of administrative approach, and one of which is a complaint to the judicial commission. They are very serious legal approaches, and they absolutely must be allowed to run their course. It would be shocking if these, this sentence was carried out before these legal appeals had run their course.
LIPSON: And have you had any further contact with the families or friends?
PLIBERSEK: I have had contact over several occasions with different family members and friends of these two young men. They are of course distressed beyond belief. This is a sentence not just on the young men themselves but on everyone who knows them and loves them. Particularly as they have been in gaol for some time, they have had the opportunity of repairing their relationship with their family, of showing that they have reformed. Their families of course firmly believe that these young men did the wrong thing, that they are rightly subject to the Indonesian legal system. But now that they have reformed, they should have the opportunity to pay their debt to society, to contribute to the prison community that they are part of in the way that they have been doing, in reforming other prisoners.
LIPSON: Should the worst happen, what do you believe an appropriate diplomatic response from Australia should be?
PLIBERSEK: I think it is the wrong time to be talking about anything like that, I think our focus, on the moment, at the moment, has to be on the fact that we have for many years had a strong relationship with Indonesia. There are many people in Indonesia and in Australia who are working to make that relationship even stronger in the future and I count myself as one of them. Our focus now has to be on using the strength of that friendship to appeal to the President of Indonesia, the Attorney-General and others to understand that of course we understand the Indonesian legal system but the death penalty is not a deterrent, it’s not more of a deterrent than a long gaol sentence certainly and that the Indonesian case for clemency for its own citizens internationally is weakened by this action.
LIPSON: Not just a strong relationship, it’s also an extremely important one for both countries. Is there a danger that that relationship could be damaged by Indonesia’s actions here?
PLIBERSEK: I think it’s the wrong time to be talking about anything like that. We need to focus on the needs of these two young men and continue to redouble our efforts to use every formal channel of communication and every informal channel of communication to make our case.
LIPSON: And what about the threats that some Australians have made, including lawyer Lex Lasry today, of boycotting Indonesia. Do you believe that will achieve anything in this case?
PLIBERSEK: I understand that emotions are running very high at the moment. I understand why a friend, someone who’s represented these two young men would speak from the heart at such an emotional time. I think our focus as a government, as an opposition needs to be on keeping channels of communication open and constructive.
LIPSON: And do you believe there should be a review or investigation into the Australian Federal Police actions that led to these two young men and others essentially being handed over to Indonesian authorities?
PLIBERSEK: I think the Australian Federal Police do a fine job at keeping Australians safe, but I don’t think anyone would question that it would have been much better to pick, not just these young men but all of their co-accused, up when they arrived back in Australia and seeing them subject to the Australian judicial system.
LIPSON: With that in mind, does that policy, that sort of course of action need to be reviewed or changed? Does there need to be a directive in the future?
PLIBERSEK: I think again, this is something for discussion at a future time.
LIPSON: Tanya Plibersek, thanks so much for your time.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.