Channel 10, The Project

  • Transcript, E&OE

PRESENTER Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins us now. Minister, have you given up hope?

JULIE BISHOP I have not been given any official confirmation from the Indonesian Government as to when they propose to carry out these executions, but I do believe that the family and friends and lawyers of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran have made what I fear is their last visit to see them.

We have been informed through the media that the executions are likely to take place tomorrow or in the early hours of the morning, but that has not been officially conveyed to us.

So I will continue to make representations. However, it would seem that short of a last minute presidential intervention on behalf of President Joko Widodo, I fear the worst for our two citizens.

PRESENTER Have you had any contact with Andrew or Myuran's families?

JULIE BISHOP Yes, I have spoken to them on a number of occasions. I met with them, and spoke to Mrs Sukumaran over the weekend. They are distraught. It's an unspeakably difficult time for them. I don't think anybody could fail to be moved by what they have gone through and how they are responding and I can just imagine what it must be like for them and put yourself in their shoes.

Ten years ago their sons, their brothers, made a terrible mistake, committed terrible crimes. But they have been paying for those crimes. They have embraced a new path in life. Mr Chan is now an ordained Christian minister. Mr Sukumaran is now a renowned artist and has completed a fine arts degree. People make terrible mistakes in their lives and they should pay for it. I believe these men have been paying for those mistakes but I believe they should be given a second chance.

Particularly as there are still legal proceedings underway. Execution is irreversible. And if there were matters that come up in these legal proceedings that throw doubt on the trial, the sentencing, the clemency plea review, then there's nothing that can be done about it at that stage. I think that would reflect very poorly on Indonesia's international standing.

PRESENTER Clearly the weight of public opinion is on your side with that. Of course, we've seen overnight a new video calling for mercy that seemed, though, to take aim at the Prime Minister's the Prime Minister specifically. Let's take a look.

Be a leader and please, please fight for our citizens, Tony Abbott.

It's time to fight for our boys, Mr Abbott.

Can I get your response to that?

JULIE BISHOP I don't think any government could have done more than this government has done in seeking to change the mind, change the heart of the Indonesian President. We have made personal representations at every level across government. If I thought there was anything further we could do or the Prime Minister could do, we would do it. But we have been advised by people who understand this process, who understand Indonesia, who understand their thinking, that what we're doing is the only way we are likely to get a presidential intervention.

If Indonesia refuses to listen to our pleas, listen to our representations, then it will not be through a lack of trying on the part of the Australian Government, the Prime Minister, me, the Governor General - we've had a whole range of people making representations to the Indonesian Government. I say again we are not asking Indonesia to do any more than Indonesia asks of our other countries when their citizens face death sentences, including for drug offences elsewhere.

PRESENTER Minister the families of Andrew and Myuran have just spoke on to media a few minutes ago. It's heartbreaking. Let's listen.

Please don't do this to my brother. Please. Please Mr President Joko Widodo, I beg you please. Please don't take my brother from me.

I just had to say goodbye to my son. I won't see him again. They're going to take him at midnight and shoot him and he's healthy and he's beautiful and he has a lot of compassion for other people. I'm asking the government not to kill him, please.

It's hard to imagine what they're going through. Minister, do you think that call for help will make any difference at all?

JULIE BISHOP It is a ghastly process that they're being subjected to, absolutely hideous. I feel so sad for them, but I don't believe there's anything more that I can do, the Prime Minister can do, or the Australian Government can do.

Short of an intervention now by the President of Indonesia and he has the power and the authority to do that, then I fear the very worst for them and I feel for their families. I have spoken to their families. I just can't imagine what it must be like for them at this time, an unspeakably sad time.

For those people who are listening and viewing this program and say - well, they committed some very serious crimes and this is very serious crimes and this is what they have got coming to them - I say, imagine if it was your son or your brother or your loved one who had gone off the rails ten years ago, but had then been in jail, had rehabilitated, reformed, embraced a new path in life? How would you be feeling now? When would you say the Australian Government had done enough for these people who have changed their lives and who have been making a contribution to the rehabilitation of other prisoners in the Indonesian prison system.

Isn't that the point of prison? To rehabilitate prisoners and rehabilitate serious offenders so that they can make a contribution to society? Now, Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran would receive life sentences, they would spend the rest of their life in jail. It's not a life I would choose or others would choose, but they could make a contribution to the betterment of other prisoners in the prisoners in the jail and thus to society.

If they are executed, then that opportunity is lost. Indonesia's opportunity to show the world what a penal system can achieve will have been m can achieve will have been lost.

PRESENTER Minister, we do agree with you. They could help and do so much good and if they do die tonight, it will be a meaningless death. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

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