Stuart Bocking: Steven Ciobo is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and he's on the line, he joins us. Steven Ciobo, good morning.
Steven Ciobo: Good morning, Stuart.
Stuart Bocking: And what was your reaction on seeing the publication of those photos yesterday?
Steven Ciobo: Well look, the Australian Government is obviously very concerned. We think it inappropriate that there was such a high level of military force that was used in the transfer of the two Australians. We think that those photographs are completely inappropriate, and a senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official expressed our concerns in relation to both those issues overnight to the Indonesian Government.
Stuart Bocking: Why do you think they have been intent on this show of force - the decoy helicopters, the fighter jets, a whole range of different things that just seem so over the top? What do you think is the reason behind this?
Steven Ciobo: Look, Stuart, I'm not going to speculate on the reasons why Indonesia has done what it's done. Our focus very much at this point in time remains on doing what we can and the efforts that we can undertake to try to spare the lives of these two reformed Australians. That is at the very forefront of our efforts and at the forefront of our minds.
Stuart Bocking: Tell me, there are now reports that the executions might not happen for another ten days, even though they've been transferred to this island. How much information do you and Julie Bishop get from the Indonesians as to what sort of timetable we might be dealing with here?
Steven Ciobo: Well look we've seen those reports and certainly welcomed those reports. We haven't had that information communicated officially to us at this point in time. So at this point in time, we still don't have clarity around what the execution date may be. But certainly, the reports do seem to be credible, but we haven't, as I said, had that officially communicated to us at this point.
Stuart Bocking: So at this stage, you and Julie Bishop, in your roles around foreign affairs, what will continue to go on behind the scenes, given that while they're alive, that there is hope that something might change, or what do you do in the meantime?
Steven Ciobo: Well look, we of course continue to press the case across governments, to the Indonesian Government.
As I'm sure you're aware, the Prime Minister has sought a call to the President of Indonesia. That call has yet to take place to the best of my knowledge, but that request has been put forward. And the evening before last, the Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Bishop, spoke to Foreign Minister Marsudi from Indonesia, and that was where the proposal for a prisoner swap was put on the table. So we continue to press the case, but through officials and through the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.
Stuart Bocking: And that idea of a prisoner swap, where did that idea come from, Steven?
Steven Ciobo: Well, the Foreign Minister put that forward. There's three Indonesians that are currently incarcerated here in Australia. We've proposed that we can look at repatriating those three Indonesians to Indonesia, and in return Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran coming back to Australia.
Stuart Bocking: And so the idea would've been that they would've come back to Australia, and then what? Served life prison sentences here, or what would've been the idea behind that?
Steven Ciobo: Well, look, we can deal with that in due course.
We've put forth a proposal that the Indonesians be repatriated to Indonesia, and the Australians be repatriated back to Australia. I mean, fundamentally, Stuart, the case... We are seeking a stay of execution for these two Australians, because Australia has, for many decades now, opposed the death penalty. We continue to oppose the death penalty. And the most important point is this: and that is that Indonesia, consistently and regularly, seeks clemency in relation to Indonesian citizens that are on death row abroad, predominately in Middle Eastern countries. And we are asking of Indonesia for it to do the exact same thing that it tries to do for its citizens overseas in relation to these two Australians.
Stuart Bocking: So you would have seen these reports - Indonesia talking at the UN about the possibility of a moratorium on the death penalty. How can they be saying that on one hand, and yet on the other, are in the throes of executing these two Australians?
Steven Ciobo: Look, I have seen those reports. Those reports don't seem to be credible. The reality is that Indonesia has, for some time, effectively vetoed any moves in that respect. So, it does not appear to be legitimate reporting.
Stuart Bocking: Okay. And is there any credibility to some suggestions that the president of Indonesia had actually laughed at the idea of this prisoner swap?
Steven Ciobo: No, I don’t know, I've not heard anything like that. I wouldn't want to speculate on that.
Stuart Bocking: When you look at those photos, evidently the police chief in Denpasar has now come forward suggesting that he didn't even know that the photos were being taken.
They do appear staged, however, and he does seem to be smiling in the direction of a camera. It's hard to believe he didn't see that the camera was there.
What representations will be made in relation to those incidents, those photos, to the Indonesian ambassador?
Steven Ciobo: Well, as I indicated, we've already had a senior DFAT official, that is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official, express the Australian Government's concern and anger in relation to those photographs, and also in relation to the extreme use of military force in relation to the transfer of the two men. So, we continue to make it very clear that we're not pleased with, one; the treatment of these men in relation to the transfer, but secondly, of course, and more importantly, the fact that we've got two Australians, clearly reformed characters, who are now currently looking at being executed.
Stuart Bocking: If they were to go ahead with those executions, what do you think the Australian government would do in that case?
Steven Ciobo: Well, again, I'm not going to speculate beyond the short term inaudible which is for us, making sure that where we can, we spare the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. That's our focus. That's what all of us are working toward. And we hope to be able to be successful with that.
Stuart Bocking: Well look, I wish you well with that. We saw the intergenerational report released. You were the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer. Are you keeping yourself fit and healthy in the prospect of reaching a 100, or what's happening?
Steven Ciobo: I think we all need to be.
Look Stuart, what the Intergenerational Report makes clear is that Australians, and this is not unique to Australia, this is common across many developed economies, Australia has an aging population. The number of people age over 16, up to, I think it's age 30, we anticipate will increase by about 53 per cent over the next 40 years. But the number of people age 65 and over will increase by 147 per cent over the next 40 years. So you can see the very significant challenges that that represents.
Stuart Bocking: It certainly does. Look, I appreciate your time on a busy morning. Thank you, and we'll chat again.
Steven Ciobo: A pleasure, thanks.
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