ABC 24 News Breakfast, Parliament House

  • Transcript, E&OE
05 March 2015

MICHAEL ROWLAND Julie Bishop joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning.

MICHAEL ROWLAND We have reports of increased police activity outside Kerobokan prison ahead of the planned transfer of these two men. Do you fear this is now it?

JULIE BISHOP I understand that the transfer of Andrew and Myuran will take place sometime this morning - that is to what's called the 'execution island'. But in the meantime I'm continuing to make representations at the highest level that I can. I spoke with Foreign Minister Marsudi last evening and again restated our position, that we are seeking from President Widodo mercy, forgiveness for these two young men and that their executions be stayed. We don't have any details yet as to the proposed timing of the executions.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Did you get any joy at all on that front from your Indonesian counterpart?

JULIE BISHOP She undertook to speak directly to the President as soon as we finished our phone call and I assume she will do that. I am dismayed by these reports that the planning is proceeding for the executions, particularly at a time when the lawyers for the two young men say that there are still legal avenues open to them. And of course we have reiterated our concerns that where two young men have been rehabilitated in the most remarkable way, the Indonesian authorities still intend to execute them.

And so we will continue to press the case for Myuran and Andrew. We will continue to seek from the Indonesian Government what they seek from other governments for their citizens who face death row overseas. We're not asking the Indonesian Government to do anything other than what they do for their citizens who are on death row.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Are you disappointed that under Indonesian law that the President and authorities really do have to give proper consideration to rehabilitation when it comes to possibly commuting death sentences?

JULIE BISHOP Well this is a point that we have stressed time and time again in my conversations with the Vice President, with the Foreign Minister. The Prime Minister has made these statements to President Widodo in his direct communications with him. It's been made on numerous occasions that the rehabilitation of these two young men is a reason why there should be a stay of execution and that's the basis of their pleas of clemency but to this point they have not been accepted.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Okay, now you've made that telephone call to the Indonesian Foreign Minister, you of course have been very active using other channels but we had the Prime Minister this morning telling AM that the signals he was getting from Jakarta, that any prospect of second thoughts are now well and truly dissipated. Is that your reading of the situation?

JULIE BISHOP I will not give up hope, I will continue to make representations, I will do whatever I can to seek a change of heart, a change of mind. I've been pleading with the Foreign Minister that she tell the President that this is a circumstance where he can show great strength by showing mercy and forgiveness for these two young men who have been rehabilitated in their prison system in the most remarkable way.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Does it trouble you that all this public pressure and all the very strong words from the Abbott Government on this story, on this issue have indeed hardened the political resolve to indeed carry these executions out?

JULIE BISHOP We are doing what we can to get the best possible outcome for Myuran and Andrew. I would not do anything that I thought would harm their chances of getting a stay of execution. However, Indonesia's position seems to have not changed since the clemency bids were refused earlier in January. Indeed they have carried out executions of other prisoners despite the very consistent pleas on the behalf of other governments. Indeed, Andrew and Myuran are not the only citizens who are on death row. There are citizens of other nations who are facing a similar fate at this point.

MICHAEL ROWLAND As you say, that transfer is likely to take place this morning. Will Australian consular officials be involved in that process in any way?

JULIE BISHOP Our consular officials are in Bali, there is a team there. We're sending more people to be available to assist in any way. Our consular support is there, it's been consistent.

Likewise in Jakarta we have a team at our Embassy who have been working around the clock on this. We will ensure that all appropriate consular assistance is provided to the two men and to their families.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Is that up until them being taken to Nusa Kambangan Island, the place of execution?

JULIE BISHOP We will continue to provide whatever support we can to the families and to the two men and I can assure you, and your viewers, that every effort is being made to provide them with whatever consular support we can and we will continue to do so.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Is it your understanding that now once this transfer takes place the families won't be able to see their sons again?

JULIE BISHOP That's not my understanding but we're seeking clarification on all of these issues from the Indonesian authorities.

MICHAEL ROWLAND If it's the case and we know for a start that Myuran Sukumaran's family returned to Sydney over the weekend. Will the Australian Government provide help for them to fly over to either Bali or Nusa Kambangan Island?

JULIE BISHOP We've not been asked to do that but of course we would consider any request from the families. I will be speaking to the families later today.

MICHAEL ROWLAND We do know that other countries in response to the executions of their nationals have withdrawn their ambassadors to Indonesia. Is that something the Australian Government will do if the shootings do happen?

JULIE BISHOP There are a number of diplomatic options available to Australia and we'll consider that at the appropriate time but at present my focus is on making representations to get a stay of execution for the two men and I will continue to do that.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Just finally very briefly, Julie Bishop, before you go one of our other top stories this morning is this big international stand-off between Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama over this move to curtail Iran's nuclear program. He has told the US Congress overnight that the nuclear program there poses a threat to the world. Where does Australia stand on this?

JULIE BISHOP There are negotiations under way, the P5 + 1 negotiations, and we believe those negotiations should continue to a conclusion which is meant to be at the end of this month. We understand Israel's deep concerns about Iran's nuclear program but we support the P5 + 1 negotiations and we want to see what negotiated outcome can be achieved.

If there is no outcome then more time should be given to the process because we believe a negotiation is the best way to achieve peace in this regard. We understand the Israeli Prime Minister's concerns but we believe that the negotiations should continue to their obvious conclusion by the end of the month.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Julie Bishop, I know you've got a very busy morning this morning, thanks for making time for us on Breakfast.

JULIE BISHOP It's been my pleasure.

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