Doorstop interview - 8:25AM

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Minister, can you give us an update on the negotiations regarding theExtradition Treaty with China?

JULIEBISHOP: TheExtradition Treaty has been in the Senate and I understand that there's been amotion to disallow it moved by Senator Cory Bernardi and so it will be debatedsometime this week in the Senate.

JOURNALIST: What's the possible cost of that being disallowed?

JULIEBISHOP: We haveextradition treaties with about 39 countries around the world and the reason wehave extradition treaties is to ensure that Australia doesn't become a safehaven for criminals and also it provides us with an opportunity to bring backcitizens from other countries who have committed crimes in Australia so thatthey can be trialled in Australia. So it's very much in our national interestsfor us to have an extradition treaty with China because we want to ensure thatwe can continue to have a very close relationship with them on cooperation incounter terrorism, in consular matters, and our relationship more broadly. Thefact is all extradition treaties have safeguards in place to ensure that ourlegal and political system have oversight and I'm confident that the ChinaExtradition Treaty has those safeguards in place.

JOURNALIST: What do you say to some of your colleagues including Tony Abbott who said thatChina's legal system has to evolve further before we can be confident thatthose before it will receive justice under the law?

JULIEBISHOP: I disagree.We have extradition treaties with a range of countries that have very differentlegal and judicial systems. We have extradition treaties with Venezuela, withthe United Arab Emirates, with Vietnam, and their legal systems are no moredeveloped than China's. This is about our national interests; this is aboutserving our interests in not being a haven for criminals around the world whowould seek to escape justice by being in Australia. But we have safe guards inplace for every extradition treaty that ensure that people are not extraditedif they face the death penalty in the country seeking to extradite them, we cantake into account whether the person fears they would be tortured or subjectedto cruel or inhumane treatment, we can take into account humanitarian grounds,we can take into account whether or not they would receive a fair trial. Sothere are safeguards and the Minister has an absolute discretion, totaldiscretion as to whether he or she would permit an extradition to take place,and if the Minister were to decide an extradition should take place there isstill the opportunity to have it reviewed by judicial review in our FederalCourts. So I have faith in our political and legal system to ensure thatsafeguards mean that these extradition treaties work in Australia's nationalinterests.

JOURNALIST: Would you say Mr Abbott's comments are unhelpful then in this debate?

JULIEBISHOP: I'm justfocused on ensuring that we work towards a closer and deeper relationship withChina, and with other countries. That's my interest.

JOURNALIST: If it's such a good idea, why have none of the other Five Eyes nations strucksuch a deal with China?

JULIEBISHOP: Australiahas often been at the forefront in international engagement. We have a freetrade agreement with China before many other countries and they are now allseeking to get a free trade agreement with them. We have an InternationalPrisoner Transfer Agreement with China that has worked very much in ourbenefit. In fact the Extradition Treaty was signed at the same time as theInternational Prisoner Transfer Agreement and China has kept faith with thatInternational Prisoner Agreement, and we have brought Australian prisoners homefrom China to serve out their sentences in Australia. So it's worked very muchin the interests of Australian citizens. So we have signed the Agreement, it wentthrough the usual treaty process in the parliament; the Joint StandingCommittee on Treaties recommended the Government ratify the Treaty and sothat's what's happening.

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