PAUL HENRY: Well, the big question on everyone’s lips this morning — well, most people — whichever side of the fence you stand on with regard to Schapelle Corby, it would be interesting to know what does this development actually mean, when will she be released from Kerobokan Prison.
Richard Marles, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, joins me now. Richard, thank you for your time this morning.
RICHARD MARLES: Thanks Paul.
PAUL HENRY: What is your understanding of this? When do you think she will be released?
RICHARD MARLES: Well, what we know is that the sentence has been reduced by five years, as has been reported, and we obviously very much welcome the decision of President Yudhoyono in relation to that. That would bring her current sentence to September 2017.
Now, I've seen speculation in the paper today about parole earlier than that, but frankly, that is just speculation and I'm not about to engage in that.
We'll continue to speak to the Indonesian authorities. But I think today is a day to welcome the decision they've made. This is absolutely a matter for Indonesia, and of course it’s a very significant moment for Schapelle Corby and for her family.
PAUL HENRY: What is your communication like with the Indonesian authorities? Have you, for instance, spoken to them, has the Australian Government spoken to them since the news came through?
RICHARD MARLES: The news has been conveyed by the Indonesian authorities to us, and so the communication is very good. But, can I say, we approach this in a very respectful way. This is, fundamentally, a matter for Indonesia.
PAUL HENRY: Absolutely.
RICHARD MARLES: This is the Indonesian legal system. And so that’s the way in which we've been going about it. We have been supporting a clemency appeal on behalf of Schapelle Corby since 2010.That’s been raised at a number of levels with the Indonesian Government. But at every step, we've been trying to do this as quietly as we can and as respectfully as we can, acknowledging that this is fundamentally a matter for Indonesia and its court system.
PAUL HENRY: Absolutely, I entirely understand that.
Did the Australian Government know about this five-year clemency prior to it becoming public late yesterday?
RICHARD MARLES: Well, we knew when it was conveyed to us.
PAUL HENRY: And, I suppose, my question is, when was that?
RICHARD MARLES: [Laughs] Well, we knew yesterday. We haven't been sitting on this, if that’s your question. No, we haven't been sitting on this for weeks and weeks. It’s been conveyed to us and it’s become public.
PAUL HENRY: Have — in your communications with the Indonesian authorities, have they talked at all about whether or not she would be up as a candidate for parole?
RICHARD MARLES: Well, I'm not about to go into that.As I say, there are ongoing conversations with the Indonesian authorities, but I think they are really best done with them directly and not through the media.As I say, our approach to this is to be engaging in quiet diplomacy, to be doing this as respectfully as possible.
And look, today is simply a day of gratitude for the decision of President Yudhoyono, what that means for Schapelle Corby…
PAUL HENRY: Yes.
RICHARD MARLES: … and what it means for her family.
And can I just make one other point, Paul, because I think it is important. It’s a timely reminder of the fact that when people travel overseas, the laws of the countries in which they travel absolutely need to…
PAUL HENRY: Yeah.
RICHARD MARLES: … be respected, and I think that’s a very important point to remember today as well.
PAUL HENRY: Yeah, absolutely, couldn't agree with you more.
I'm reading between the lines, and correct me if I'm wrong, given the way you're answering my questions, that perhaps, right at the moment, the Australian Government is discussing the possibility of Schapelle Corby’s parole with the Indonesian authorities — is it possible that you're answering questions the way you are, and I'm looking at your face now and seeing the smile come to it.
RICHARD MARLES: [Laughs]
PAUL HENRY: Is it possible that you're answering the questions this way because, in fact, that is the case and you are involved in conversations with them about this?
RICHARD MARLES: Well, the smile and the way I'm reacting to you is to do with the way you ask questions which elicit smiles [laughs] on behalf of your interviewees.Nothing should be read into my smile about what’s going on in relation to discussions with Indonesia.
Look, the fact of the matter is, we are in an ongoing dialogue with Indonesia.But I'm not about to speculate on that through this program or in the media. It would be wrong for me to do that. This is really something which needs to be kept at that level and, I keep reiterating this is ultimately a matter for the Indonesian authorities. I just think today is a day to be celebrating the five year reduction…
PAUL HENRY: Yeah.
RICHARD MARLES: … and to be thankful to them for that.
PAUL HENRY: It is very hard for me to have a go at you, because I'm pretty much agreeing with your line of answers.
Can I talk to you about the Proceeds of Crime Act, because, obviously, one of the concerns people have is that Schapelle Corby could, indeed, profit out of this when — if she arrives back in Australia. We know she’s already had to pay back, what, around $128,000.
Where does she stand on this now? She will have effectively completed her sentence. Will she be able to profit in terms of books, television specials, interviews, et cetera?
RICHARD MARLES: Oh look, I think that is a matter for another day, to be honest. I know this is not a very edifying answer to the question you've asked, and I know that…
PAUL HENRY: Just looking at my watch here now…
RICHARD MARLES: … [indistinct] be another angle to have a crack at me, but I really think that today is the day to be thinking about the five year reduction, and I think these are issues to be considered well down the track. But I don't think we ought to be getting ahead of ourselves at the moment.
PAUL HENRY: Although, you would agree with me, Richard, that is one of the few times that you're not able to fall back on the defence that this is down to the Indonesian authorities.
This is the determination of the Australian authorities — indeed, yourself — as to whether or not she should be able to make money out of her experiences in jail in Indonesia.
RICHARD MARLES: Oh well, again, I think that is a matter to be considered at a long point in the future. You know, there are all sorts of considerations about that, and I'm not going to go into that now.
PAUL HENRY: All right. Just very, very quickly, why do you think the decision’s been made, because it has come left of centre to a degree in that she was found guilty of a very serious crime. Very unusual that she would receive the clemency that she has. What was the clincher? Did it come down to the negotiations between Australia and Indonesia, do you think?
RICHARD MARLES: No, I think this is — and I reiterate this — I think this is, fundamentally, a decision that has been made by President Yudhoyono himself.
PAUL HENRY: Mmm mmm.
RICHARD MARLES: Now, in saying that, of course, we have been urging support and giving support to the clemency bid. And the clemency bid was, you know, around the effect of this in relation to Schapelle Corby herself. That has been raised with the Indonesian authorities at the level of the Prime Minister, at the level of foreign ministers on a number of occasions. So, there’s no question about the consistency with which we've been supporting this clemency bid.
But, at the end of the day, the clemency bid was originally made back in 2010…
PAUL HENRY: Yes.
RICHARD MARLES: … and I think the wheels have turned, and we've reached a point at which President Yudhoyono’s made a decision, and I don't think it’s any more complicated than that.
PAUL HENRY: I have very much enjoyed talking to you, Richard, as I always do. Thank you very much for your time this morning.
RICHARD MARLES: Yes, thanks Paul.
PAUL HENRY: Okay, take care. Richard Marles.
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