Question time - efforts to seek a stay of execution

  • Transcript, E&OE

Mr LAUNDY (Reid) (14:28): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Minister update the House on the Government's efforts to seek a stay of execution for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:28): I thank the member for Reid for his question and I note his deep concern. It is with profound disappointment and dismay that I report to the House that the Indonesian authorities are making preparations for the execution of two Australian citizens, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Since their pleas for clemency were rejected in January of this year, the Australian government has conducted a sustained campaign of high-level advocacy seeking a permanent stay of execution for both men. The Prime Minister, the Governor-General, the Attorney-General, the Minister for Justice, our officials, our diplomats and I have made numerous representations, written and personal, seeking a stay of execution. I commend the opposition, the Greens and the cross benches for their support. Indeed, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Australian Greens and I prepared a joint submission to foreign minister Marsudi, and that was received by the Indonesian government.

Successive Australian Governments have made it clear that we oppose the death penalty for Australian citizens, whether it is at home or abroad, and I can confirm that we have made it clear to the Indonesian government that there are grounds for clemency in this case. Indeed, their lawyers are still pursuing legal avenues that I understand are open to them.

The grounds are that both men have shown immense remorse for their grave crimes–and I do not for a moment understate the seriousness of what they did. But, over the past 10 years, both men have shown remorse and they have undergone a remarkable, indeed extraordinary, rehabilitation. Andrew has studied theology and has become a pastor, and is providing support to other prisoners in the Indonesian prison system. Myuran has become an accomplished artist, and he is taking art classes and supporting other prisoners in their rehabilitation attempts. Indeed, successive prison governors in Bali have attested to their good character and their process of rehabilitation. As I said as recently as last night to Foreign Minister Marsudi, the Indonesian Government can be proud of what they have achieved in their prison system; this level of rehabilitation is what prison systems around the world aspire to achieve.

I know that Indonesia opposes the death penalty as it applies to its citizens when they face death row in countries overseas. So we are not asking the President or the Government to do any more than they ask of other governments when their citizens are on death row. We will continue to appeal to President Widodo's strength and his humanity, to show mercy and forgiveness to these two Australian men who have undergone this remarkable rehabilitation. I spoke to the families of both men this morning–I have met with them and spoken with them before–and, as you can imagine, they are devastated. They are just living day to day.

On behalf of the Parliament, I respectfully ask of the Indonesian President that he spare the lives of these two Australian citizens.

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