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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 214

Senator Bob Brown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 15 December 2008:

With reference to the arrest of Mr Harry Nicolaides in Thailand in August 2008 on the charge of lese-majeste:

(1)   What steps has the Government taken to investigate the circumstances of Mr Nicolaides’ arrest.

(2)   Does the Government know why it took so long for the authorities in Thailand to arrest Mr Nicolaides for lese-majeste after he volunteered his book for approval.

(3)   Does the Government know why Mr Nicolaides has been refused bail four times when other people in similar cases have received bail.

(4)   Has the Government ascertained why Mr Nicolaides’ detention has exceeded the 84-day period under Thai law.

(5)   Given that the family of Mr Nicolaides reports that his mental and physical health are rapidly deteriorating, what does the Government plan to do if his health reaches a critical point.

Senator Faulkner (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The Government does not investigate arrests of Australians overseas.

(2)   No.

(3)   Bail decisions are a matter for the Thai courts.

(4)   Mr Nicolaides was brought before the court and formally charged within the 84-day period prescribed by Thai law.

(5)   Consular staff of the Australian Embassy in Bangkok are visiting Mr Nicolaides regularly in prison in an effort to ensure his health and welfare are safeguarded. As they have done in the past, the Embassy’s consular staff will ask the Thai authorities to take prompt action in relation to any health concerns.