2GB Breakfast, Sydney - interview with Alan Jones

  • Transcript, E&OE

ALAN JONES Julie Bishop good morning.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning Alan.

ALAN JONES In the name of humanity, thank you for what you've done. It's got nothing to do with what we think about drugs, but in the name of humanity. I remember Julie, I said earlier this morning, Shakespeare once said, and I know you're a bit of a student of humanities, "prays upon itself like monsters in the deep" - that's what we've got here, isn't it?

JULIE BISHOP I asked the Foreign Minister again last night for the Indonesian Government to show mercy and forgiveness to Andrew and Myuran. And I'm not asking Indonesia to do any more than they do in seeking to stay executions of their citizens who face death row in other countries.

I'm devastated by these reports, that Andrew and Myuran are to be transferred in preparation for their execution, perhaps as early as today. I understand the date of their execution is yet to be decided and of course this is devastating news for the men and their families.

I spoke to Foreign Minister Marsudi for quite some time last night. I went into the detail of the men's rehabilitation - that they were adding positively to the quality of life of other prisoners in Indonesia. Indeed, as you know, Andrew Chan has become a priest and he's providing spiritual support and nourishment to other prisoners, but also that the lawyers for the two men have said that they are working on a further appeal in the State Administrative Court and that's their right. There's also the claim of corruption in their trial that is currently before the Indonesian judicial commission but my very strong view is its utterly unacceptable, unthinkable even, for any steps to be taken to prepare for executions while legal avenues remain open.

ALAN JONES What sort of hearing did she give you?

JULIE BISHOP She said that she would take on board my concerns and pass them on to the President immediately and to her credit that's what she's said on every occasion we've spoken, that she'll pass on my concerns, and I believe she does. She also undertook to seek more information from the Indonesian Attorney-General because I asked to be kept informed. I learn so much from the Indonesian media and I asked that I be informed of the planning and the dates for these proposed executions rather than hearing about it through the Indonesian media.

ALAN JONES The United Nations has three times overwhelmingly carried resolutions in opposition to the death penalty and nothing, I suppose, demonstrates the impotency of the United Nations then the fact that those resolutions are being ignored. I mean there is a powerful argument that the Indonesian President hasn't even read the documentation associated with the plea for clemency.

JULIE BISHOP Australia's position is that we oppose the death penalty at home and abroad and we support those United Nations resolutions. But what it means is that Indonesia, as a sovereign nation, determines its own domestic laws and it is very tough on drug trafficking, as it should be.

Our point is that these two men have been in jail for over 10 years, they have paid for their crimes and are still paying for their crimes and that is as it should be. However, I do not believe that they should pay with their lives when they have been rehabilitated in such a way, that the Indonesian prison system has achieved what prison systems around the world seek to achieve and that's the rehabilitation of people who've gone off the rails.

ALAN JONES Civilised people could never believe surely that you'd pay for any crime with your life.

I understand, and I have read, and I'm sure you have too, the Constitutional Court's determination in 2007, Indonesian Constitutional Court, my understanding is that this information hasn't been cited by the Indonesian President, they resolved the death penalty, in certain circumstances, should be commuted and they specifically identified the case of rehabilitation, that was the Constitutional Court. And as your aware, the Governor of Jakarta, who is a close friend of the President expressed opposition at the weekend to the death penalty and told the President it was not a deterrent.

Do you get any feeling, I know we're talking 11th hour here and we don't want to create false optimism, do you get any feeling that the ground might be shifting?

JULIE BISHOP I am aware that there are senior figures amongst the Indonesian authorities who oppose the death penalty. However it comes down to President Widodo and with the greatest respect we are asking again, President Widodo to show mercy and forgiveness to Andrew and Myuran which he can do under Indonesian law. And our point is that mercy and forgiveness has just as big a place in Indonesian concepts of justice as it does in Australia so in seeking mercy for these two young men, Australia is only doing what Indonesia does for its citizens on death row overseas. So for as long as there is hope I will continue to do everything possible to persuade Indonesia to change course and agree to a permanent stay of execution.

ALAN JONES Julie Bishop, just finally, since we're talking while the barbarians are at the gate, have the families been told what's to happen to the bodies?

JULIE BISHOP We are working very closely with the families, our consular officials in Bali and our diplomats in Jakarta are providing every assistance. I have a number of staff flying to both Bali and to Jakarta to be available for all of these preparations and decisions that have to be made but clearly we will provide them with all the support we can. I don't know that Indonesia has given any indication as to what is to happen to the bodies, but most certainly Australia will stand ready to assist the families.

I have spoken to the families, I've met with the families. No one could not be moved by the devastation that they find themselves in. They are absolutely broken hearted, particularly as the young men's rehabilitation has been so remarkable and one is now an artist, one is now a priest. And I will speak again to the families today, but we are still awaiting confirmation of the planning and the detail of these proposed executions but as I said Alan, I will not stop because I believe that this will be an injustice. It will cause obvious tension in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia and I can see no benefit to anyone in the execution of these two young men.

ALAN JONES You've been absolutely fantastic, absolutely fantastic and far beyond what would be expected of quote, unquote "a politician". The humanity here is on the rack and I think beyond this I would say we have to challenge internationally the validity of this kind of punishment. You have been fantastic. Thank you for what you've done and thank you for talking to us this morning. Very, very difficult circumstances, any man's death, I think John Dunn said "diminishes me because I am part of mankind", and that's where we are today.

JULIE BISHOP I couldn't have said it better Alan. Thank you very much.

ALAN JONES Thank you Julie.

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