ABC AM Program, Canberra - Interview with Michael Brissenden

  • Transcript, E&OE


MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Ok. On national security, clearly, as you said, budget discussions are ongoing. Will the Government exempt the security agencies from the efficiency dividend?

JULIE BISHOP These are matters that we are considering very carefully. There is no doubt that the efficiency dividend has an impact on our intelligence agencies and at a time when we are seeking to bolster the efforts of our security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, obviously, an efficiency dividend has an impact. So this is a discussion we are having within the National Security Committee so I won't go into it in more detail. But as you are aware, we recently provided an additional $630 million for our security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies to combat what is now a global threat of terrorism and Australia is doing its part in our response. But, of course, we need to ensure our agencies are well-resourced and an efficiency dividend can counter that impact. So it's a topic that we are discussing. Of course, you know Defence is exempt in terms of operational matters. So there is an argument that our security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies should likewise be exempt on the operational side of things.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN And changes to citizenship have been flagged. If you remove a person's dual citizenship and their country of birth refuses to take them back, we will be stuck with them, won't we?

JULIE BISHOP These are issues other countries are grappling with. In my discussion with foreign ministers and defence ministers from Britain, Canada, the US, indeed the Norwegian Foreign Minister who was here with the Royal Family yesterday. I've met with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, the Iranian Foreign Minister, this is an issue that all countries affected by this global threat of terrorism are grappling with. So Australia will take concerted steps to ensure that we keep our people safe from those who are determined to do harm and carry out terrorist attacks in this country.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN What's the latest with the two Australians on death row in Bali? It was widely thought the Prime Minister linking the tsunami aid to the clemency bid was unhelpful last week. Was it?

JULIE BISHOP It was seen in that way in Indonesia and that's why I spoke to Vice President Kalla to make it quite clear that the Prime Minister did not intend to link it in an unhelpful way. What he was pointing out was that Australia has always been a friend of Indonesia. We are there when Indonesia needs us and Vice President Kalla accepted that that's the way the words should be taken.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Do you acknowledge it was seen that way in Indonesia, clearly?

JULIE BISHOP That's how it was reported in the press.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Where is the situation now? I mean, it seems to be a holding pattern.

JULIE BISHOP As you indicated in your introduction, there is a court hearing on today where the lawyers for Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan are seeking to have the clemency pleas reviewed and so I don't want to say anything that will impact on the outcome of that case. But in the meantime we continue to make representations across the Indonesian Government. More than one Indonesian Government department is involved in this process and so we are making representations at every level, in every department.

It also includes community and business representations. I'm aware of Australian businesses who operate in Indonesia who are also making representations with Government contacts that they have, so we are not leaving any stone unturned in our effort to seek clemency for these two Australian citizens.

Now, I know that views in Australia are divided on this. I know that there are some who say that these are Indonesia's laws and Indonesia should be entitled to carry out its laws. And we respect Indonesia's sovereignty, but we also ask Indonesia to do no more than Indonesia does itself for its own citizens on death row elsewhere and that is to give those who have rehabilitated in such a remarkable way a second chance.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Julie Bishop, thanks very much for joining us.

JULIE BISHOP My pleasure.

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