Bill's Transcripts

Radio: 2UE








BRIAN CARLTON: On the line is the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and I appreciate his time this afternoon. Opposition Leader, thanks for your time. How are you?


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well like a lot of Australians we woke up this morning with the news that two Australians have been executed in Indonesia and I think that’s wrong, it’s outrageous.


CARLTON: Yeah, wrong and outrageous, about the right words. Tell me do you believe that the Government has done everything is possibly could, and I know you’ve been working closely and I know this has been an issue of some bipartisan support over a very long time. Is there anything else we could have done Bill?


SHORTEN: I’m not aware of what else could have been done. Today, for me, it’s about the families, it’s about the spirits of the two men who were executed. I think a lot of people close to it all from the Department of Foreign Affairs to the lawyers, the family lawyers, they worked really hard. I believe that there were strong efforts made by the Government full stop.


CARLTON: Anything else they could have done?



SHORTEN: This event was put in train 10 years ago, I don’t know if every step or ever action was exactly right, I don’t know, but what I do know is that today isn’t the day for recriminations. I believe the Government, the Opposition, ordinary citizens through turning up to vigils, through to people who are supporting the families, there are a lot of Australians who got very committed. It’s almost, because this has been such a long time there’s a sense people got to know a little bit about these men –


CARLTON: Yes, it became almost a, I know this is a weird thing to say given the distance, a personal relationship. We got into their lives in ways we often don’t when we’re talking about death row prisoners. They tend to become, you know, a name and a number and kind of go through you. Places like America for example where they do this fairly regularly. But these guys, your right, they did have a decade to get into us and I think they probably did which is why this is resonating a little more. Tell me, you say it’s not a time for recrimination and yet the first thing the government did was recriminate, by suggesting they’re going to pull our Ambassador. Was that a good move?


SHORTEN: When I meant not a time for recriminations I don’t want to second guess every action over the last 10 years –


CARLTON: No, no I understand, of course, but you support the pulling of the Ambassador?


SHORTEN: I do, yeah, absolutely do.


CARLTON: Okay, what else should we do?


SHORTEN: Well, have a look at what other nations have been doing when they’ve been confronted by the same set of circumstances so I think pulling the Ambassador is a real demonstration of a nation saying to another nation we do fundamentally disagree with what has taken place. What frustrates me personally is in the weeks and months leading up to this I’ve had the opportunity to be in regular communication with the two men’s lawyers –


CARLTON: As did we, yes.


SHORTEN: The legal processes weren’t extinguished. There were inquiries, there were judicial processes underway and I’m very frustrated that it appears the government, the Indonesian Government, set itself off on a course of action they legal processes hadn’t been extinguished so to me that is an injustice upon the injustice of the death penalty. The death penalty doesn’t solve anything. In terms of what else government could do, I rang Tony Abbott on Sunday and had discussions with him about the eventuality if the worst came to pass. I think there are probably other measures which can be done, I’m going to do the Government the courtesy of talking to them privately to indicate that and continue to indicate that. I think that's been important and there’s been plenty of legitimate anger and outrage in the media and ordinary Australians.


The target of my frustration is not ordinary Balinese people where a lot of Australians go to visit, it’s a system and it's any system which sees as the solution the execution of people. In this case they’re clearly rehabilitated, objectively, by all indications they understood they made a mistake, these two men understood they deserved to be punished but executing them was futile, it’s not justice, it’s just a futile waste of two lives.


CARLTON: Yeah. Mr Shorten there was a lot of emphasis on the rehabilitation angle here, I’m not entirely convinced that was the best way to go about it in terms of a strategy, for one simple reason. If you’re on death row, you’re facing your imminent demise I would argue that you would do absolutely anything to prove to everyone that you have rehabilitated. I question if they got a 20 year sentence of a 25 year or a 30 year sentence whether they would have quote unquote rehabilitated quite so strongly as they had.


SHORTEN: Well, I don’t –


CARLTON: It’s a pretty good motivator is what I’m suggesting.


SHORTEN: I don’t think that, and from the people I’ve spoken to who have talked to these men directly, I don’t think it was a foregone conclusion they were going to be executed but there rehabilitation is an absolute fact.


CARLTON: Okay, I understand your distinction there. Tell me, there’s a lot of talk today about the role of the AFP, and as a commentator of more than 20 odd years I talked about it vigorously at the time, I also made lots of calls to the AFP to try and get somebody to come on the radio and discuss what happened and how it happened, exposing the two Australians, in fact the nine Australians t the death penalty. Should there be some sort of formal inquiry into what the AFP did and why they did it? Would you support a Royal Commission?


SHORTEN: The AFP will be talking to the Parliament in the week around the 26th of May so some of those matters that you raise will get raised there. In terms of what’s happened and the AFP, under the former Labor Federal Government, the guidelines changed so there were more checks and balances introduced if information’s going to be handed over to a jurisdiction who has a death penalty attached to a particular crimes to make sure that people are aware in Australia of what the consequence of providing the information is. Again, my starting point in all of this is, be it Indonesia or another country that has the death penalty, Australian policing has to be done in the most careful and rigorous of manner so that we don’t see again what we’ve seen happen in the early hours of this morning.


CARLTON: It’s my understanding Bill Shorten that we have actually passed legislation, certainly in the immigration act to prevent that from happening again with foreign citizens and indeed Australian citizens so I think that’s probably already happened as a result of this instance. I could be wrong there and I’m happy to be corrected –



SHORTEN: No, they have been tightened up, you’re quite right. Again, I understand the Federal Police have issued a statement that today out of respect for the family and their grieving they’re not saying anything today but no doubt this will be a subject of discussion in coming days and weeks.


CARLTON: Yeah, look I hate to attach names to this but Mick Keelty was particularly vigorous in assisting Scott Rush to escape his ultimate penalty and was successful in doing so. Haven’t seen him for, gee, couple of years now in terms of any of this. I wonder how he slept last night, that’s an aside. Tell me, do we have still any kind of formal relationship, sorry, does the Prime Minister, does our Government have a good relationship with Joko Widodo, could you say that today?


SHORTEN: I don’t know is the short answer.  Australia will have interests with Indonesia in common which go forward, that’s inevitable. They’re a very large country and they’re one of our  nearest neighbours.


CARLTON: Sure, clearly it’s a very important relationship but it’s a relationship at the moment that the Indonesians at the moment, well, really don’t care too much about it seems. Just to give you an example the feedback coming out of Jakarta off the back of the Ambassador being withdrawn once the official duties [inaudible] the executions are finished, is ‘well, who cares?’ effectively.


SHORTEN: Well I see comments coming out of the Indonesian media and I see comments in our own media are pretty strong and extreme statements. I think the Government has been right to recall our Ambassador. I do think –


CARLTON: I’m not talking about whether that’s a right decision or a wrong decision, but the way it’s being received in Indonesia appears to be we really don’t give a dam what you do Australia. That’s hardly the foundation for a good, ongoing relationship is it?


SHORTEN: Well I suppose my heads not going to be turned by what pops in the sort of popular press in Indonesia at the moment. For me the way we define our relationship is by having a set of principles by which we conduct ourselves. One principle which is important is their large, immediate neighbours so we will have issues in common. But there is another principle here which is that this execution deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. I cannot imagine the pain of the families, it’s not justice, it’s just a futile waste of two lives –


CARLTON: Of course it was.


SHORTEN: So I do respect Indonesia’s sovereignty but I am completely disgusted by the execution of these two men. Australia needs to make clear it disagreement fundamentally with what has happened in this case and when saying that I’m not saying that, it doesn’t matter if it’s Indonesia or the United States or China, needs to pursue more vigorously an agenda against capital punishment.


CARLTON: Yeah, look I think it would be hard to get too many people to disagree with that, at least today. On another day you might get probably 40 odd per cent of people going ‘yeah, death penalty, bring it on’. Can the relationship do you think with Joko Widodo, who’s going to be there for a while, I mean he’s sort of locked in for three odd years. You may be Prime Minister while he is still in power, could you develop a relationship with a man who refused to take phone calls from our Prime Minister for two or three days? Is the head of a government who has a Foreign Minister who refused to take calls from our Foreign Minister for an equal amount of time? This is really not good for a country that is so important to use strategically to not have the capacity to ring a Head of Government and have a private, off the record chat about things affecting the country. To not accept that phone call is the height of arrogance I believe.


SHORTEN: I do hope that Indonesia understands how united Australia is in condemning what’s happened.  I do hope that as the Government in Indonesia proceeds in its term of office it’s appreciates and understands the strength of which we have this principle about the execution of our citizens. So I think the message will get through and that’s why on days like today the best thing I can do is worth with the Government, support their action of recalling. I think ministerial visits would absolutely not be on the list of things for Australian politicians to be doing with Indonesia at the moment.


CARLTON: Okay so how long should that go? We’re talking about ministerial delegations, there’s potential for trade delegations, finance delegations, those sought of things, would you kill all them? I hate to use that term but would you stop all of them from happening?


SHORTEN: I think in the short term we’ve got to send a clear message. Out of courtesy to Tony Abbott though what I might do is talk through with him –


CARLTON: Yeah, look I fully respect that and Mr Shorten, can I just say I’m really happy that at least on one issue you and the Prime Minster can sit down and have a chat and work out what is in the best interest of Australia. I don’t want, if your discussions with him would be in any way compromised by talking to me on the air I’ll stop talking to you right now because I want this to work.


SHORTEN: It’s not because I think any questions aren’t being answered in a straight fashion. What is important now is to demonstrate to Indonesia the common purpose of the Australian people in terms of our deploring what has happened and doing so in this period of high emotion, and understandable high emotion, in the most sensible way so that’s why I think, some people say ‘people should never go to Bali again’. I’m afraid I don’t have that view. Ordinary Balinese people earning a few dollars a day shouldn’t be the targets of our outrage.


CARLTON: It’s happening already Mr Shorten, I’m looking at –


SHORTEN: That’s individual choices and it’s a free country and people can choose that.




SHORTEN: For me the best thing I can do is to work with the Government to demonstrate to Indonesia that there is a common reaction across the politics of this nation which says that we deplore the use of the death penalty, we deplore the execution, the lack of justice in the execution of these two men. We need to indicate that, also I think we need to indicate that there’s other people on charges in Indonesia, this situation could well arise again, but not these particular facts. So what we need to do is make sure we put Australia in the best position possible to strongly put our view that we don’t want to see our citizens being executed in these matters in Indonesia or any other jurisdiction.


CARLTON: The sad reality is though Mr Shorten should that happen, which indeed it has, our capacity to do anything about it, or our capacity to stop it is limited and our capacity to do anything about it once it’s happened it also very limited, there’s not a lot we can do.


SHORTEN: I think there is more we can do to campaign against the death penalty.


CARLTON: Absolutely campaign, but as you know we’re dealing with a President who won’t take calls from our Prime Minister. Nothing by way of a social media campaigns are even public campaigns or political campaigns is going to sway this guy. He doesn’t care.


SHORTEN: Well what I would say about that is that it what’s we do every day which stands the test of time. So both in the circumstances and pressure cooker of this tragedy but it’s also what we do now in terms if indicating that Australia has a consistent view in the world about the death penalty and it’s not just about Indonesia it’s about where it’s carried out. So I think that there is the chance for us to increase the pressure to ensure that the waste of these two men’s lives can be strength which we take with us to try and prevent this happening again.


CARLTON: Mr Shorten I appreciate your time this afternoon, you’ve been most generous, thank you.


SHORTEN: Thank you.