Chris Kenny: First up now we'll cross to Brisbane and we'll catch up with the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Steve Ciobo. Thanks for joining us, Steve.
Steven Ciobo: That's a pleasure, Chris.
Chris Kenny: Look I wanted first to get the latest on these teens who have been intercepted, teen jihadists. Radicalised young Australians who were intercepted on Friday trying to leave the country for the Middle East. This is very concerning, of course. Do we know whether these teenagers, we can't name them obviously because they are minors, do we know whether they will face charges, and if so, what sort of charges would they face?
Steven Ciobo: It's been my understanding that yes they have been issued with an appearance to attend court, so as part of that, the 16-year-old and the 17-year-old as you identified, Chris ... Look, they're going to be very closely monitored now, obviously. In terms of our domestic intelligence agencies, in terms of our counter-terrorism units, they will become a focal point given the clearly radicalised nature of these two young men who were taking the decision to leave Australia bound for the Middle East, for a conflict zone presumably to participate in who knows what. They'll be very closely watched and no doubt they'll have their appearance in court in due course.
Chris Kenny: Look, obviously it was very good work by the customs authorities at the airport to intercept them, to realize that this looked a little unusual and to intercept them, so we dip our lid to them. The fact that the boys' parents didn't know this was happening and obviously our security agencies, ASIO and the like weren't on to these young blokes and weren't able to stop them. It just underscores how extremely difficult it is to trace the radicalization of people in our own community.
Steven Ciobo: Look, absolutely, that is the case. There is no doubt that ... look, these two young men 16 and 17 were not on a watch list. They clearly would appear to have been radicalised, so that's the allegation at least. We'll need to see what comes to pass, but what it does also demonstrate though, Chris, is that our measures at border protection are working.
You know we have very diligent and conscientious customs and border protection personnel. It's a very hard job and sometimes frankly it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. On this occasion they've done their job very diligently, they've stopped these two men, and it's really important. I can't stress this enough, because from time to time I hear people say, "Well why would we try to stop these people? If they want to go overseas let them go."
Well the reason we don't want them to go overseas and the reason it's such a problem is because if they do make it overseas they become bloodied, they become much more used to working in the hostile condition, warlike conditions, far more radicalised. That's why it's so crucial that we get to these people and stop them before they have the chance to walk down a path that frankly they can never be recovered from.
Chris Kenny: Or not to mention the bloodthirsty murders that they could get involved in while they're over there.
Steven Ciobo: Exactly.
Chris Kenny: Look, you mentioned that our border control measures do work. There have been failures of course, I can't let you get away with that. Now they've obviously worked very well in this case, but we've had over 100 Australian jihadis that we know of go off to the Middle East and of course we did have that case where one notorious jihadist who actually got out of the country on his brother's passport.
Steven Ciobo: Yeah. Look I'm not going to say that it's perfect, of course it's not. We're the first to admit that there are clearly those who have got away with leaving Australia who are clearly radicalised and who now are fighting as part of IS or ISIL or DAESH or the Death Cult, as the Prime Minister refers to it. The fact is that we need to remain vigilant and it underscores the fundamental problem that we as a developed economy face.
It's not unique to Australia, this is the same problem the United States faces, the same problem that the UK faces, and indeed other developed economies and that is that we have predominantly young men who become radicalised who have the ability with very little notice to leave the country and to join the front line in a country like Syria or Iraq. That's really concerning because if they import back into the country the blood lust that they have, the skills that they have, small arms combat, explosive combat, those type of things. Frankly, it's the very last thing that any government of a peaceful country would want.
Chris Kenny: Well look, we'll go back to what's going to be happening with these two, the 16 and 17 year old in Australia, the domestic situation. I they've become radicalised presumably they need to, apart from any legal process, they need to go through some sort of effective de-radicalisation process, that won't be easy. Also, you must be concerned about how they've become radicalized, whether there are other young people in Australia who have been involved in that with them, in cahoots with them, and whether therefore there could be some worrisome connections here.
Steven Ciobo: Look, absolutely. These are the exact types of issues that ASIO our domestic intelligence service as well as the federal police, our counter-terrorism officers, all of them work on exactly this point to try to maintain and monitor a safety net so to speak across those who are prone to become radicalized, those who are actually undertaking the radicalization, and those who are or course preaching hate. In many respects it's part of the reason why the government not that long ago moved a suite of laws to try to stiffen up our suite of laws to make sure that we can crack down on those that preach hate. We can crack down on those that are trying to basically brainwash young minds and turn them into killers.
Chris Kenny: Okay, I want to switch now to Indonesia and all of Australia knows of course, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are now sitting on that menacing prison island in Indonesia awaiting word on their fate. The executions have been delayed awaiting new legal processes. Do you believe that there's any hope of these legal processes resolving in any sort of a stay of execution given the course that we keep hearing from President Joko Widodo that he's still committed to carrying out these sentences?
Steven Ciobo: Look, of course I retain hope. I think it is important for all of us to retain hope in relation to this. Fundamentally, Chris, it comes down to this basic point. Australians abhor the crime that they're engaged with that is in terms of drug supply and drug trafficking, but we also abhor the death penalty. Both of these acts are acts that Australians don't support.
Now we recognise Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran have done the wrong thing. They deserve to be punished; I'm sure that they will acknowledge that as well. We also think that the death penalty is barbaric and fundamentally with respect to Indonesia, our key point is this: Indonesia regularly and consistency seeks clemency in relation to the lives of Indonesian citizens in other countries, especially in the Middle East. We are now doing the same thing that Indonesia regularly does in relation to its citizens for two Australian citizens who are now subject to the death penalty of Indonesia.
Chris Kenny: Now Tony Abbott has been trying for three days to get another phone call with President Joko Widodo, unsuccessful to this time as we understand. Surely given the nature of our relationship with Indonesia President Widodo should take that call and should take concern.
Steven Ciobo: Well the Australian Government is doing everything that it can to make sure that we're strong advocates in relation to these two Australian citizens. The Prime Minister has sought a phone call with President Widodo and obviously we would like that to happen; but the Prime Minister spoke to the President last- I should say earlier this week and we continue to do everything that we can on a consular level, from a leadership level- that is the Prime Minister-
Chris Kenny: Are you disappointed in President Widodo? Of course he's a new president but he came to power with thoughts that he would be a more liberal leader in Indonesia and this is a very illiberal stance he's taking here and of course it's one that places the very important relationship in some jeopardy.
Steven Ciobo: Well I'm not going to pass judgment on President Widodo. What I'm going to do as part of the Coalition Government is continue to state the case about why we abhor the death penalty and we also abhor drug crime, absolutely. We do not think it's fitting or appropriate for the death penalty to be exercised in relation to these Australian citizens. I'll leave it to others to make whatever judgments they'd like to make in relation to Indonesia. Of course we're all familiar with domestic pressures that the Indonesians might face, but fundamentally, whilst that might aid our understanding about the reasons why certain decisions are taken, it still remains a matter of principle that Australia as a nation is opposed to the death penalty.
Chris Kenny: Look, the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister have both said that if the executions go ahead that Australia's displeasure will be made known to Jakarta. No matter what we think and how strongly we feel about the lives of these two men and the principle at stake, surely we can't afford to allow this incident to damage relations with Indonesia in any way, shape, or form. It's just too important for that.
Steven Ciobo: Look, Indonesia is a longtime friend of Australia. Of course from time to time friends have grievances and friends have concerns and there's been plenty of instances in the past where all Australians would know. Indonesia has not been happy with positions that Australia has adopted. This will be a case of the shoe being on the other food. A clear case of Australia not being happy with the position adopted by Indonesia.
I'm not going to comment again, I don't think it's appropriate for me to be openly gratuitous in relation to commenting on the relationship as a consequence of whatever might come to pass here. What I do know is this: both Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran are still alive. We continue to advocate that they should remain thus, that there should be a stay of execution and that is what our short-term focus is upon.
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