THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
SATURDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2015
SUBJECT: Bali Nine.
ANDREW O’KEEFE, PRESENTER: Time is running out for the Bali Nine pair on death row. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran clinging to the hope that Indonesia's President may grant clemency.
MONIQUE WRIGHT, PRESENTER: Now both Australian political parties put aside their differences this week to appeal for mercy. Including Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, who knows first-hand what a difference a second chance can make.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION [footage]: I perhaps have a particular view on remorse and redemption because of experiences in my own life. In 1988, my husband left prison after being charged and convicted of a similar crime to these young men. I imagine what would have happened if he had been caught in Thailand, instead of in Australia where that crime was committed - where he was coming back to Australia. I think about - I didn't know him at the time, this is 30 years ago. What would the world have missed out on? Well, they would have missed out on the three beautiful children that we have had together, they would have missed out on a man who spent the rest of his life making amends for the crime that he committed.
O’KEEFE: Tanya Plibersek joins us now. Morning to you, Tanya.
PLIBERSEK: Good morning.
O’KEEFE: You’ll be far too modest to say this but knowing your husband, Michael, just a little bit, he is an incredibly dedicated public servant and just a beautiful man. Can you tell us a little bit about his road to redemption?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I wouldn't normally have talked about my personal life in Parliament in this way but I thought it was important to share this story at this time because he made a terrible mistake 30 years ago. He did a really bad thing. He acknowledges that. But he has actually spent three decades trying to serve our community to make up for it. I thought about these young men, that they should have that second chance too, to - I am not saying that they shouldn't be punished, of course they should be. They have done something really seriously wrong, and in fact punishment has to be part of it. But to have a second opportunity to reform themselves and to return something to society, I think that that is something that everyone should be granted, that opportunity for a second chance.
WRIGHT: And in fact, they have been given the chance to rehabilitate in prison which they have done. Yet, it almost seems as if that's not being rewarded. You also have another personal perspective on this. This is through your brother, Philip's murder.
PLIBERSEK: Well, the reason this is relevant is because we need to - we don't live in a society where we take an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth any more. We don't see gaol as retribution. It's punishment so that people can improve themselves and turn their lives around. I mentioned Philip's death because if you had let me make the decision then, I could not have thought of a punishment bad enough. But I am glad that we live in a society where we make decisions about punishment based on universal rules, rules that apply - you think through the rules and then you apply them without fear or favour to anyone. I think that's a really important principle in our justice system today. We don't let emotion run away with us. We apply the rules consistently.
O’KEEFE: I mean, some people would say that that's what the Indonesian government are doing. They are not letting the personal stories of Andrew and Myuran get in the way of the application of their universal principle of capital punishment. So...
PLIBERSEK: I understand, Andrew, why people say they are in Indonesia, they are under Indonesian law. I think a lot of Australians have said that. I understand why people say that. But the truth is, that there have been a range of sentences given to drug dealers in Indonesia and I would also say that the Indonesian government is lobbying around the world for its own people. They have got around 300 people on death row in other countries. They are lobbying for their own people not to be put to death. So I am sure the Indonesian government understands how Australians feel about Australians being put to death in Indonesia. No one is saying these young men shouldn't be punished. They’ve clearly done the wrong thing. It's the type of punishment. Because this isn't just a punishment for these two men, it is a punishment for their families too. Taking these young men away from their families, that is forever for their poor mothers and their parents. This is forever. I think it really weakens the Indonesian argument for their own citizens on death row in other countries if they are applying the death penalty in Indonesia.
WRIGHT: You stood in solidarity this week with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. She has said that there is a risk Australians will boycott Bali in particular, us being their largest tourist dollar.
O’KEEFE: There seems to be an online movement towards that already.
WRIGHT: What do you think about that? That people are feeling like this may be the only way that they can show- they have signed the petition. Nothing seeming to work. Well, we are going to show with our dollars.
PLIBERSEK: I understand why people want to do that but I actually think the stronger argument with the Indonesian government is if you want your own people off death row in other countries, then you have to show mercy at home. I've been to Bali a few times, probably like most Australians. I always found that the Balinese people were incredibly warm and welcoming of Australians. Bali is a long way from Jakarta. I am really not sure that boycotting Bali is going to make much of a difference to attitudes in Jakarta.
O’KEEFE: Yeah, you would imagine it would cause the Balinese economy to collapse as well, given that a million Australians went there last year.
PLIBERSEK: And when you have been there, you see that Balinese culture is quite unique in Indonesia. It's not the same as Javanese culture. I think my sense was always for example, after the Bali bombings, after the Marriott Hotel bombings in Jakarta, the Balinese people stood in solidarity with Australians. In fact I was in Bali when the Marriott Hotel bombings occurred and I remember sitting on Jimbaran beach and seeing some young Balinese man flying a kite that had a tail hanging off the back of it that said, I better not say the word on television, but "mm Terrorism". You know, just wanting to express that they were so against the attack on the Westin hotel, the targeting of Australians.
WRIGHT: It's an awful thought to think that Balinese people would suffer. I also understand how Australians might be feeling, that they just are powerless, this is might be the only way they can do something.
PLIBERSEK: Yeah that’s right, it's easy to understand the point of view but I am not really sure that boycotting Bali makes a difference in Jakarta unfortunately.
O’KEEFE: Ultimately though, this is a question of what a person can do to redeem themselves and to contribute to society when we don't apply the death penalty, in the way that your husband has done so admirably. Tanya, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.