2UE Breakfast Show - interview with Andrew Voss

  • Transcript, E&OE

ANDREW VOSS Foreign Minister, welcome.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning Andrew.

ANDREW VOSS The very latest in this situation, the plight of Myuran Sukumaran and now Andrew Chan waiting to hear on the point of presidential clemency. What can you say on behalf of the Australian Government?

JULIE BISHOP We are aware that the Indonesian President has rejected Mr Sukumaran's appeal for clemency. The Australian Government will continue to make representations at the highest level. We have to acknowledge that under Indonesian laws, certain drug-related offences do carry the death penalty. But we oppose the death penalty and will continue to advocate against the execution of any Australian citizen finding themselves in that position.

I point out that the Indonesian Government itself makes representations to other countries where Indonesian nationals face the death penalty. So I don't believe the Indonesian Government is in any doubt about the fact that the Australian Government will continue to advocate against the execution of any Australian citizen. We do have to keep all diplomatic, political, legal and bureaucratic channels open between Australia and Indonesia, so that we can continue to engage at every level. Not just for Mr Sukumaran, but there are a number of Australians who are in detention. in jail, facing the death penalty – not only in Indonesia, but in other countries.

ANDREW VOSS The fact that we are talking about the issue of presidential clemency – and there is no higher office – this is no longer an option for Sukumaran. In all honesty, the prospects are not bright, are they – for these two in particular?

JULIE BISHOP We do acknowledge that under Indonesian laws certain drug-related offences carry the death penalty. That is the tragedy of this. The risk is there, the risk is known. That is why we warn all Australian travellers to Indonesia and other countries that once you are subjected to the laws of that country, there are limits to what the Australian Government can do. We will continue to make representations at the very highest level. Our consular staff are providing Mr Sukumaran with consular support. In fact, our Consul General in Bali, Majell Hind, visited Mr Sukumaran the day before yesterday. We will continue to do what we can. But I stress, the options are narrowing.

ANDREW VOSS Yes. Just recently – this is a different case, a different country – Kalynda Davis. Work was done behind the scenes to have the young lady from the west of Sydney returned to Australia. Can I narrow this down – has the last card been played? Are you just going over things that have already been attempted?

JULIE BISHOP I don't want to get into that kind of detail because I don't think it would be in Mr Sukumaran's interests. What I can say is that we will continue to make representations. We will continue to stress that we oppose the death penalty. We oppose any Australian citizen facing the death penalty. We certainly oppose the execution of any Australian citizen, as Indonesia does in relation to its nationals when they face the death penalty. We will continue to do that and no effort will be spared in continuing to make those representations.

ANDREW VOSS Just finally, we've had warnings, updated terror alerts put out for both Indonesia and India. In light of what has happened in Paris, is there any advice coming from your office to Australians who may be there or intend heading to France soon?

JULIE BISHOP There are a couple matters that people should be aware of, if they are in France, or intending to travel to France. First, the highest terror alert level has been imposed in Paris and in Picardy, an area about 70 kilometres north-east of Paris. I mention that, because it's where a number of Australian war graves are situated from World War I. It's quite a tourist attraction, particularly for Australians. So in those two places, the terror alert is at the highest level – that is, 'Alert: Attack'.

We do urge all Australians to register on the Smartraveller website – www.smartraveller.gov.au – with one 't'. Our advice has been reissued recently to take account of the atrocity in Paris. But also our travel advisories are updated whenever new information comes to hand in countries across the globe. You mentioned Indonesia and India. Likewise Turkey, where there was a recent suicide bombing at a police station, and now of course in France. So we urge people to register on the Smartraveller website. That means they will automatically receive the travel update. Also, it enables us to know that they are in a particular country.

ANDREW VOSS Minister, thank you for your time.

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