Channel 7 Sunrise, interview with David Koch

  • Transcript, E&OE

DAVID KOCH Preparations have continued ahead of today's transfer of Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from their Kerobokan Prison. These are live shots from outside the prison. In the past hour security has been dramatically increased there with the arrival of dozens of officers. They will be taken in two vans to an airport and flown to a central Java Island reserved for executions. Candles have also been lit overnight outside the Bali prison. We did think it would be a couple of hours away until they're transferred but from these pictures, there is a lot of activity outside the jail. We're joined now by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Minister have you been briefed by the Indonesians on what's going to happen today?

JULIE BISHOP David, I contacted Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi last evening. I asked that the Australian Government be kept informed of thedetails of planning of these executions and she undertook to contact the Attorney-General but at this stage, the details are being made known to our consular officials in Bali.

At present, I am not aware of the specific date or timing of the proposed executions. But I am continuing to plead with President Widodo for a stay of execution and for him to show mercy and forgiveness for these two young men who have been rehabilitated in the most extraordinary way but also who still have legal avenues open to them. And my position is that it would be utterly unacceptable, indeed unthinkable, for preparations for their execution to take place while there are still legal avenues to be pursued.

DAVID KOCH It looks as though from what we are seeing outside the prison at the moment, that they might be bringing the transfer forward. We - there are a lot more guards now, just marching out by the look of it - brought it forward because it's under our timing still about three or four hours away is the indication.

Minister, when you and Tony Abbott contacted the President there and also their Foreign Minister, what is their reaction? What was their answer when you put to them why do you work so hard and fight so hard to keep your own citizens off death row in our countries and how hypocritical is that?

JULIE BISHOP Well, I can assure you that I have made that point on numerous occasions.

DAVID KOCH What is their answer? What is their rationale?

JULIE BISHOP There essentially isn't an answer. They claim that's what Indonesia does but they are entitled to impose the laws of their country and indeed they are a sovereign country. They do have their own legal and judicial system.

DAVID KOCH They are against those laws in other countries.

JULIE BISHOP Well that is the point that I make time and time again - that I am not asking Indonesia to do anything more than Indonesia does in relation to its own citizens. Indonesia clearly opposes the death penalty for its own citizens when they are facing death row in countries overseas. That's exactly what Australia does, the only difference is we oppose the death penalty at home here in Australia whereas Indonesia is proposing to carry out the death penalty in Indonesia but the point is not lost on the international community. And we will continue to ask for the same mercy and forgiveness for Andrew and Myuran as Indonesia asks for its citizens who are on death row.

DAVID KOCH How disappointed are you in the Indonesians? Do you see this as a slap in the face for Australia? Do you see it as a personal slap in the face?

JULIE BISHOP Well, I am dismayed by these reports that preparations are being made for their executions. I know the families and the young men will be utterly devastated by this news. I will be speaking to the families again during the course of the day.

David, I won't give up making representations. I will continue to contact my counterpart ministers, I have spoken to the Vice President, I have personally spoken to the Vice President and also to the Foreign Minister on numerous occasions. The point we continue to press is that they have been rehabilitated. Indonesia has achieved through their prison system what prison systems around the world long to achieve and that is the rehabilitation of people who have been convicted of serious drug offences.

DAVID KOCH Do we have our Ambassador there at the moment?

JULIE BISHOP Yes, our Ambassador-designate is in Jakarta and our Consul-General is in Bali. We have flown in teams to support the families at this time because should the executions go ahead, there will be a number of arrangements that will have to be made. In the meantime I have not given up hope. I continue to press for clemency, for a stay of execution for these two young men particularly given that their lawyers believe there is another legal avenue open to them and that there are these bribery charges relating to the first trial of the men that are still underway.

DAVID KOCH You know, they're neighbours, we are meant to be good neighbours. The only reason they made the arrests is because we tipped them off. There are extenuating circumstances.

JULIE BISHOP I believe that there are a number of circumstances that would give rise to a plea of clemency and that's why the lawyers are continuing to press the legal avenues. But at the Indonesian Government level, we continue to make contact with our counterpart ministers, the Attorney-General, our Attorney-General, our Minister for Justice, the Prime Minister, the Governor-General, a whole range of people have been making contact with their contacts in Indonesia to press upon the President, with the greatest respect that he do show the same mercy and forgiveness to two Australians as he asks other countries to show to Indonesian citizens.

DAVID KOCH If the executions go ahead, is that the end of the matter? Or do you have this nagging sense of - revenge or will it harden our line towards Indonesia in the future?

JULIE BISHOP It won't be the end of the matter for a number of countries whose citizens remain on death row. It's not only Australian citizens. There are citizens from France and Brazil and the Netherlands, Nigeria, Mali. There are a number of other countries who are making similar representations. So, this will go on for some time -that countries who oppose the death penalty will continue to make representations to Indonesia, to plead with the Indonesian President to show mercy for these young men who have been rehabilitated. I think it's an appalling situation that we find ourselves in.

DAVID KOCH What do you say to people though who, and a lot of Australians think this, they knew the consequences when they went there, when they did the deed? A lot of Australians have lost kids to drugs and they are thinking they get what they deserve.

JULIE BISHOP I understand that there is that sentiment in the Australian community. But I believe that where men have been rehabilitated they should be given a second chance. They are paying for their crimes as they should, but I don't believe they should pay with their lives because that won't bring back any people who have lost their lives through drugs. That won't deter others from doing the same stupid things. What we need to do is take a much broader approach to drug trafficking and to drug offences. The execution of these two men will not act as a deterrent. I can see no productive purpose to be served by making them pay with their lives.

DAVID KOCH Julie Bishop, thanks for your time.


Media enquiries