Sunrise, Sydney - Interview with Samantha Armytage

  • Transcript, E&OE

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Staying with the Bali Nine, the Foreign Minister joins us in the studio.

Minister good morning to you. Thanks for your time.

JULIE BISHOP Good morning.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE What do you know about these bribery allegations?

JULIE BISHOP I have heard of them, I am aware of the allegations but I'm leaving it to Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan's lawyers. They do have an appeal process to the Administrative Court in Jakarta underway. I would rather that those matters be dealt with through the legal process.

My focus is absolutely on trying to seek a stay of execution for these two young Australian citizens and to have their clemency pleas reviewed by the Indonesian Government.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE How confident are you that you can have success with this stay of execution because the Indonesians seem to be in full flight on this now?

JULIE BISHOP The Indonesian Government has made it quite clear that they intend to carry out executions for those convicted of serious crimes including drug trafficking and indeed in recent weeks they have carried out executions.

We continue to plead with them. We are making representations at the very highest level. I am in constant communications with our Ambassador-designate in Jakarta. Our Consul General is in Bali and we have a whole team of people who are working to seek this stay of execution because both men have changed dramatically. They have been rehabilitated in the most remarkable way. Ten years on from their very serious crimes, and I do not condone drug trafficking in any way, ten years on they have made an extraordinary transformation. They are now making a contribution to prison life in Indonesian, they are paying their debt to society, they shouldn't have to pay with their lives.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE It does seem they were so far down in this drug syndicate by the sounds of things, by what we are reading in the papers lately. Indonesia aggressively seeks clemency for any of its citizens who are arrested for drugs overseas and yet, you know, they carry out the death penalty for the same crimes carried out on their soil. Is this a double standard?

JULIE BISHOP This is a point that we have been making repeatedly to the Indonesian Government - that we are more than prepared to work with them to support them in their pleas for clemency for Indonesian nationals facing death row, elsewhere, particularly in the Middle East. Likewise we expect them to understand our pleas for clemency for Australian citizens who have been rehabilitated - one is now a pastor, one is an artist teaching others in the prison system. This is precisely what prison systems around the world aspire to achieve, that is, the rehabilitation of drug traffickers and drug offenders.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE We had shocking news out of Denmark on the weekend - two people dead, many hurt following two terror related shootings in the nation's capital. Are we seeing an increase in terrorist attacks do you think? It certainly seems that every week we are hearing about another lone wolf shooting around the world.

JULIE BISHOP This is another example of a terrorist inspired attack. Our sympathy goes to the people of Denmark, the victims, the families, to those who are injured. But it reminds us that a terrorist attack can take place anywhere at any time. This is the ideology that terrorist organisations like ISIL or Daesh inspire. They claim that all you need is a knife, a mobile phone and you can go out and attack innocent civilians. We have seen this in cities around the world. That's why the Australian Government is focussing so heavily on national security. We are doing all we can to keep our people, to keep our country safe from terrorism.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE And part of that, there are reports in the paper today that Tony Abbott is addressing possible home grown terror attacks. The Australian says there are plans to revoke the citizenship, as in people with dual passports, trying to remove their Australian passport if they are overseas fighting in places like Syria, engaging in terrorism. What can you tell us about that?

JULIE BISHOP Well Sam it is already a crime, it's already an offence against our criminal laws to leave Australia and take up with a terrorist organisation overseas such as we are seeing with foreign terrorist fighters leaving Australian to fight with ISIL, Daesh in Syria and Iraq. That is an offence.

We have also changed the law in relation to the promotion or advocating of terrorism and we have lowered the threshold that is required for us to be able to detain people or carry out raids for terrorist attacks. You've seen that in recent times where our Federal and State police have coordinated to undertake raids to prevent people carrying out an imminent terrorist attack.

More needs to be done and we will be unveiling some more reforms, laws, legislative processes in the weeks ahead.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE So is this report right in The Australian today? Is it legally possible to remove an Australian citizen's Australian passport if they have dual citizenship and it can be proven that they are fighting for ISIS?

JULIE BISHOP Well we are looking at all options. Currently I have the authority to cancel passports or refuse to issue passports or suspend passports where we believe the passport holder poses a risk to national security. And in recent times we have suspended, cancelled, stopped from being issued at least 80 or 90 passports. So there is a significant amount of activity in that area already.

We are now considering what we do when someone's passport has been cancelled, when they are a dual citizen, they can be proven to have fought or are fighting with a terrorist organisation overseas. What can we do here in Australia to prevent them being a risk to Australians here in our country?

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE Okay, I am sure many Australians will be happy to hear that. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, thank you for your time this morning.

JULIE BISHOP Thanks Sam, my pleasure.

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