Marius Benson:          Steve Ciobo, good morning.

Steven Ciobo:              Good morning.

Marius Benson:          People are hoping that a delay might turn into a reprieve for the two Australians. Do you see any grounds for optimism yourself?

Steven Ciobo:              We remain hopeful, of course, about the outcome of this situation but we also need to be realistic about the circumstances in which the men find themselves. Fundamentally, though, the Australian Government has said consistently that we believe it's completely inappropriate for an execution to take place while there are still legal proceedings afoot. Those legal proceedings need to be allowed to run their course. That's an appropriate separation of powers and so that's what we're, of course, expecting.

Marius Benson:          It's also being reported that because of the legal issues involving the Australian's and the others facing execution that they could be effectively in limbo for weeks or even months. Is that your understanding?

Steven Ciobo:              Well, we do expect that legal proceedings should be allowed to run their full course. There are a number of appeals that have been launched by lawyers for the men. Overnight, there was news in relation to a decision by a court in relation to a Nigerian prisoner on death row on similar sorts of grounds to what the men themselves, Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, had their lawyers launch an appeal on. We're watching all of that but in the interim, of course, at every level from consul officials right through to the Prime Minister we've been national representations on behalf of the men about why we believe these Australian citizens should see clemency.

Marius Benson:          Is weeks or months a likely timeframe for resolving these issues from your understanding?

Steven Ciobo:              Look, I'm not going to speculate on that. I don't think it's appropriate that I do. Other than to say that, obviously, many of these things are dependent upon the legal process and decisions taken in the courts. We feel it's appropriate that the court knows it should be dealt with in full and completely before any further activity takes place in relation to the possible execution of the men.

Marius Benson:          For six days the Prime Minister has been asking President Widodo to simply accept a phone call from him to discuss the issue and that's been refused for six days. That sends very clear evidence. That's a very blunt diplomatic rejection there from the President of Indonesia and clear evidence of strain in relations between the two countries. Those relations, do you accept are already under great strain?

Steven Ciobo:              Look, I'm not going to become a commentator on the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. What I am going to say is that Australia has expectations that Indonesia will do several things. The first is that Indonesia will acknowledge that all we are seeking to do is to apply the same clemency to Indonesia, regularly and prudently seeks for it's own citizens that are on death row. Predominately, in Middle Eastern countries.

The second thing that we're seeking is for Australian citizens to have their lives spared because Australia as a nation abhors the drug crime that the men were involved with, absolutely. But, also, abhors the death penalty.

The third point is this. Is that we expect the men to have full recourse toward their legal rights available to them under the Indonesian system and for that to be respected.

Marius Benson:          Steve Ciobo can I just quickly ask you a question about another story in the news which you may or may not know about. The Australian reporting a story this morning that young Australians going to the Middle East to live in IS controlled areas of Sydney that perhaps a dozen Sydney children now living in those areas. Do you have any knowledge of that?

Steven Ciobo:              Well, look, we know that there are a number of Australians who have made their way into the combat zone. We also saw, over the weekend, for example, relatively young Australian, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old. Now, this remains a key concern for the government to make sure that we stop people moving into a complex zone where they can become more radicalised. The problem, of course, is even further entrenched in relation to young children who might be travelling over there with family. We've seen on the front pages of our papers some very graphic examples of former Australian children, in one particular case, causing very young child, around seven years of age holding up the severed head of the person, taken into that zone by his father.

We need to remain absolutely vigilant against this type of activity and people making this transition because it, unfortunately, radicalises them even further than they were to begin with.


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