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Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison speaks -

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Reporter: Tony Jones

The Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison speaks to Tony Jones about former Solomon Islands
Attorney-General Julian Moti.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Just a short time ago I spoke to the Justice Minister Senator Chris Ellison in our
Perth studio. Chris Ellison, thanks for joining us.

CHRIS ELLISON: Good evening, Tony.

TONY JONES: Now that Mr Moti has come out of hiding in Port Moresby, has the AFP directly contacted
the PNG police to request that he be arrested?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, we certainly are liaising with the authorities in Papua New Guinea. I must say
that the report that we have of him having left the Solomon Islands High Commission is yet
unconfirmed, although there are reports, of course, that he has left. But you have to remember that
this is a matter for the authorities in Papua New Guinea. There's a warrant issued by a court in
New Guinea for his arrest and of course that would be the primary warrant to act on for the
purposes of any arrest by the Papua New Guinean authorities. Obviously we can't take action. It's
another country. The formal request has now been lodged with the authorities in Papua New Guinea
and it is up to them.

TONY JONES: Yes. There appears to be confusion at the highest levels of politics in Port Moresby as
to whether or not there is a functioning extradition agreement or treaty between Australia and
Papua New Guinea. Do you understand what Mr Somare is saying about this?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, there are two things, Tony. Firstly, I understand that Prime Minister Somare
has said that due process has not been followed and that this is politically motivated and I reject
that out of hand. I mean, we have followed the process to the letter of the law. In relation to the
arrangements between Papua New Guinea and Australia, we have the London scheme, which was formerly
there, but more important recently Papua New Guinea changed its laws, its extradition laws, to have
a warrant backed system, much like we have with New Zealand, which is not evidence based and that
is what we are relying on. Papua New Guinea has put in place new extradition arrangements and we
are confident that we've followed due process and of course we've made the formal request to the
Papua New Guinean authorities and we want them to act.

TONY JONES: So it must be confusing for you, as it is for us, as to why Mr Somare is continuing to
deny that there is any kind of legal way in which Australia can extradite Mr Moti?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, certainly I'm at a loss to understand why he says that. We have firm legal
advice from the Attorney-General's Department that we have followed due process and in fact you
have to remember that Mr Moti was taken before a court in Port Moresby. He then failed to appear
and breached his bail and the court in New Guinea issued a warrant for his arrest. Now, obviously,
the court that's dealing with it followed due process and did not find any issue with the process
at that stage and it has issued a warrant for Mr Moti's arrest. So, it certainly is in the hands of
a court in New Guinea and we respect that.

TONY JONES: But the really extraordinary thing is Mr Somare is now saying there's going to be
disciplinary action against his own police officers who were involved in that original arrest last
week. I mean, do you understand - has anyone been in contact with the Prime Minister to understand
why he's taking this position, which is so contrary to what you believe?

CHRIS ELLISON: Tony, with extradition proceedings, we leave it to the authorities concerned, that
is, the Attorney-General's Department, the police and the courts to deal with it. It's not an issue
which one deals with on a political basis. It's not one which I pick up the phone and speak to my
counterpart and say, "Look, can you just issue a warrant for this person's arrest." There is a
formal process we go through quite properly, an independent process, and that has been done. You've
seen it in New Guinea with the proceedings having commenced before a court in New Guinea. So
certainly I wouldn't be intervening politically. It's a matter for the authorities in New Guinea
and a matter for due process and for the law to be followed.

TONY JONES: It's Mr Somare that is making the political point in New Guinea. Are you worried that
he's actually circumvented the independent process of his own courts and police?

CHRIS ELLISON: Look, it is for Mr Somare as the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to pass comment
as he sees fit, but I must say that in making this formal request for extradition of Julian Moti,
we would expect due process to be followed and that is as laid down by the law in Papua New Guinea
and the law as provided for in Australia. Now, we believe we've followed that process and we're at
a loss to understand where the Prime Minister in New Guinea is saying that there is no process or
that process has not been followed and, more specifically, we certainly reject any allegation that
this is politically motivated. Mr Moti is wanted in Australia on several counts of child sex
tourism, which are very serious offences, and we intend to pursue him and have him brought to
justice in Australia.

TONY JONES: It is now being reported that the Sogavare Government in the Solomon Islands is likely
to provide Mr Moti with a Solomons passport. How much does that confuse matters even further? Can
he be arrested in PNG if he's carrying the passport of another country?

CHRIS ELLISON: He's still an Australian citizen and that brings him under the jurisdiction of our
child sex tourism legislation. We've cancelled Mr Moti's Australian passport, but that doesn't mean
that we've lost jurisdiction because of that. So certainly we'll still pursue him. We have
jurisdiction to do that and we can bring him to justice in Australia under Australian laws and he's
entitled to all of the presumptions that attach to that. But, can I say in relation to the Solomon
Islands, we've made it very clear that we do not think the Solomon Islands Government should offer
this man sanctuary and if he goes elsewhere, if he manages to leave Papua New Guinea, we will
pursue him.

TONY JONES: And what if he's actually given a Solomon Islands diplomatic passport, which carries
with it immunity?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, can I say, Tony, we'll deal with the situations when and as they arise, but
I've made it very clear tonight, and I just make it clear again, that we will pursue Julian Moti in
whatever way possible we can and if he leaves Papua New Guinea, we will pursue him and we will use
whatever means we possibly can, according to law, to have this man brought back to Australia to
face justice. Now, in the Solomon Islands, I understand there's even concern there about the
matter, such that the judicial services commission has suspended him as Attorney-General and asked
the Prime Minister, Mr Sogavare, to replace Mr Moti. Now, I understand Mr Sogavare has refused that
request and that is a matter, of course, for the Solomon Islands government and the judicial
services commission in that country, but certainly it is causing concern in certain quarters in the
Solomon Islands.

TONY JONES: If he is able to get on that plane tomorrow morning from Port Moresby to Honiara with
some kind of travel documents issued by the Solomon Islands and he reaches the Solomon Islands,
he'll be untouchable, won't he, because there's no extradition treaty at all with them?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, we have extradited someone from the Solomon Islands previously. About two
years ago we successfully extradited a person from the Solomon Islands. We have the London scheme,
which operates in relation to the Solomon Islands and Australia. So there are arrangements there
that we can seek Mr Moti's extradition and if he managed to flee to the Solomon Islands, then we
would pursue him there.

TONY JONES: Just to clear up this issue that has been raised now in both PNG and the Solomon
Islands and you've denied there is any political motivation. Can you explain whose initiative it
was to go ahead with this sex tourism case or series of charges that actually happened so years ago
in Vanuatu?

CHRIS ELLISON: Tony, it is worth looking at the history to explain that and of course these
offences relate to a young girl in Vanuatu and it's alleged that Mr Moti is guilty of child sex
offences in that country and of course in that country itself, Vanuatu, proceedings were commenced.
They were quashed. The Vanuatu authorities sought assistance from us in relation to associated
matters and we provided that assistance. This was all ongoing over a period of some years. Finally,
it was around about the beginning of last year, the Vanuatu authorities indicated that they had
finished with Mr Moti and would pursue him no further. It was then that the Australian Federal
Police commenced their own investigations. A brief was then sent to the Commonwealth Director of
Public Prosecutions who then gave us advice that there was a proper basis to seek Mr Moti's
extradition. Mr Moti was then in India and before we had any chance to have him apprehended there,
he travelled to Papua New Guinea and of course provisional warrant for his arrest was issued there.
But the practice is if someone is being dealt with for offences overseas, you allow that
jurisdiction to deal with the person first and then assess whether you are able at law to extradite
him or her back to Australia. Now, that's what we've done in relation to Mr Moti and the
proceedings in Vanuatu. Those proceedings did not come to a trial and the Director of Public
Prosecutions has advised us that we've a proper basis to seek his extradition and that's been the
reason for the effluxion of time over some years.

TONY JONES: A final quick question: no political initiative in this. No political direction to the
AFP to pursue this case?

CHRIS ELLISON: Absolutely none. The Australian Federal Police have a very strong record for
pursuing people who commit child sex offences in our region and I think it's a matter of record,
it's a high priority for their operations in the region. In this case, it is alleged that Mr Moti
has contravened our child sex tourism legislation and he faces seven counts in relation to that.
They are very serious charges and I would expect the AFP to pursue any investigation of that sort
where they had evidence to do so and I have full confidence in them in relation to this matter and
indeed generally the way they conduct themselves in the region. There's been no political
interference whatsoever and of course it would be improper for there to be so. This is a serious
issue, Tony. It involves serious allegations and we believe that this man should be brought back to
Australia to face justice in this country. As I stress, he's entitled to all of the presumptions
that attach to that as an Australian citizen - the presumption of innocence. But we say we want
this man back in Australia to face these charges which relate to a young girl in Vanuatu.

TONY JONES: Chris Ellison, we'll have to leave you there. We are out of time. We thank you very
much for taking the time to come to talk to us tonight.

CHRIS ELLISON: It's a pleasure. Thank you.