The Project, Parliament House

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST Well, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop is in Canberra and joins us this evening. You spoke with both of the families today. How are they holding up?

JULIE BISHOP I did speak to both the families today. I have met with them previously, I have spoken to them previously and they are utterly devastated. But they're taking it day by day. I reassured them that the Australian Government will continue to do all we can to seek a stay of execution.

But this is an unimaginably difficult time for them and somewhat confusing as well because we haven't got details of the planning for the proposed executions. But we are utterly dismayed and disappointed that the planning and the preparation for these executions appears to be going ahead.

JOURNALIST Watching you, Julie, talk about this, watching you talk about it in Parliament over the last few months and today, you're clearly troubled by this, clearly moved by this like many Australians. Knowing you're speaking with the families and speaking with the men as well, has it been hard? Because there's a line, the political line for you, but you're speaking with two men on death row.

JULIE BISHOP I'm deeply troubled by it and it doesn't make it easier talking to the families and friends or indeed talking to Andrew and Myuran when they were in prison, as I was able to do recently. But I have to remain focused on what we're seeking to achieve, and that is a stay of execution for them and I will do all I can to save the lives of these two Australians.

I understand that there are many people in Australia who think that they got what they deserved, that Indonesia's laws carry the death penalty for serious drug trafficking and I understand all of that, but where these men have shown such great remorse, and where these men have been rehabilitated, I just cannot understand the point in executing them by firing squad when they still have so much more that they can give to the Indonesians who are seeking to be rehabilitated in prison.

JOURNALIST How did you feel when you saw the images today that the armoured vehicles, the fighter jets, you know, it was a pretty aggressive tactic.

JULIE BISHOP I just cannot comprehend it. These are two men who have been in jail for around 10 years now. The prison governors say that they have been model prisoners, they have attested to their good behaviour. Andrew has studied theology and is now a pastor. Myuran is now an accomplished artist and takes painting classes. They have raised money in jail for other causes including Typhoon Haiyan. They have been involved in every facet of rehabilitation in prison life. They don't pose a threat to anyone.

JOURNALIST You said there that Indonesia must know there will be consequences. What will those consequences be?

JULIE BISHOP There are a number of diplomatic options available to us. Other countries whose citizens were executed earlier in January have withdrawn their ambassadors. We have, of course, have to weigh the consequences because Indonesia is one of our closest neighbours. It's an important trading partner and strategic and security partner for us and so, of course, we must maintain a relationship that's based on mutual respect.

So we will obviously do what we believe is appropriate and proportionate. But I am really focusing all my efforts on ensuring that we can get a stay of execution. I will not give up hope, I will not stop contacting our counterparts and asking our representatives in Indonesia to continue to do the same.

JOURNALIST Minister, we know it's been a long, tough day. We appreciate your time this evening. Julie Bishop, thanks for talking to us.


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