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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Adelaide Airport, Adelaide: Adelaide airport; David Hicks trial; bombing of Australian embassy in Jakarta.\n



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MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS HON ALEXANDER DOWNER, MP

TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE

DATE: August 1 2005

TITLE: Doorstop - Adelaide Airport

QUESTION: What do you think this new airport is going to mean to South Australia?.

DOWNER: Look, I think it's going to be a great boon to South Australia. This airport will give South Australia a very sophisticated base. When some of the leaders of the world come here later this year it's going to be great that they'll arrive at this wonderful new airport, and it'll make us feel all the prouder to be South Australian, having this airport.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

DOWNER: Well, I think that when you arrive in a city and you arrive in an unimpressive airport and they don't even have aerobridges, you can't help but think that that city is not very sophisticated. And yet, in Adelaide's case, Adelaide is a very sophisticated city and it deserves a sophisticated airport; and when people arrive at this airport they'll think well they've arrived somewhere that really really matters and they'll be right.

QUESTION: Mr Downer, the emails (inaudible) have you seen or heard of any information about the emails?

DOWNER: Well, I haven't seen the emails, I've just heard the ABC reports. But when I was last in the United States in April I spoke with Mr Gonzales, the Attorney-General, about the Hicks case and we're satisfied now with the structure of the military commissions, but we do want the case to be heard as quickly as possible. The charges that have been brought against David Hicks are very serious charges, including attempted murder by an unprivileged combatant. They are extremely serious charges. I've said to the Attorney-General of the United States that I hoped that they had serious evidence that they can bring to the military commission. He assured me that the evidence they had was strong evidence and so, from my point of view, I'd like to see the case proceed as quickly as possible in the military commission.

QUESTION: Who is he alleged to have (inaudible)?

DOWNER: Well, this is a matter for the court and the charges have been brought by the United States Administration and that will be a matter that the military commission will

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decide on.

QUESTION: Have you been briefed on (inaudible)?

DOWNER: We haven't been briefed on all of the evidence, of course, the charges that have been brought against him are well known. But they are very serious charges and at a time like this when we see acts of terror being perpetrated, I just think, you know, we've got to be resolute in standing up for the security of the community. If serious charges like this are brought against somebody, they should be heard. These are being heard in the military commission and the sooner this case can be concluded the better.

QUESTION: In, say, this in military commission are (inaudible) on the American people.

DOWNER: Well, they've been - well, there has been some restructuring of the military commission since then but in any case we're satisfied, whatever these emails might have said - and these emails weren't written last week, were they? No, they were written quite a while ago. Whatever these emails might say, we, as of now, are satisfied with the way the military commissions have now been set up.

QUESTION: So it's possible if those comments were true at the time of writing, and they restructured because they -

DOWNER: Well, these are allegations made by people about the military commission. And it's a free world. People can have whatever view they like but the point is that we've examined very carefully the structure of the military commission. We've talked to the American authorities about it and we believe that the appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure that the trial is a fair trial. And these are very serious charges that have been brought against David Hicks

QUESTION: Were the actual views (inaudible) that the prosecutor involved in it (inaudible) is it possible that the restructures you talk about were as a result of these emails?

DOWNER: Look, I've just never seen any emails. I just can't really comment on the emails. I can tell you what our position is and that is that we had long discussions with the Americans about the structure of the military commission and we, in the end, persuaded the Americans to make some adjustments to those military commissions. We're satisfied now with the structure of the military commissions but there is now a case to be heard. We look forward to that case being heard.

QUESTION: Was the restructuring that you requested (Inaudible)

DOWNER: I haven't read the emails. (inaudible)

QUESTION: What's your reaction to the reports that Osam bin Laden financed the Jakarta embassy bomging?

DOWNER: Well, it's a claim that's been made that we cannot verify. There have, of course, in the past been links between Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qa'ida in any case and Jemaah

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Inquiries: (02) 6277 7500 3

Islamiyah. But there has been substantial intervention in those links, particularly with the arrest of Hambali who was the contact point between Jemaah Islamiyah and Al-Qa'ida. Now that's not to say that al-Qa'ida may not have been trying to rebuild their links with Jemaah Islamiyah; I would have assumed that they would endeavour to try to rebuild those links. But this particular claim, we can't verify that. And, of course, you know in these situations these kinds of people make all sorts of claims. These are not the sort of people you look to for wisdom, advice or even integrity.

QUESTION: Have you heard their claim (inaudible) the money was paid in Australian dollars?

DOWNER: No, I haven't. That's the first I knew about that. But, of course, you don't know when the money could have been changed into Australian dollars. It may have originally been paid in US dollars and changed into Australian dollars. So it's hard to know what to conclude from that, if you want to draw any hard and fast conclusions. But it would be unlikely that, you know, Osama Bin Laden himself would go to a bank somewhere in the Middle East and take out $10,000 in Australian currency. Clearly not. But - so what the link between this money and al-Qa'ida - well, Osama Bin Laden is we're not aware of that.

QUESTION: Is it possible then that somebody sent money to Australia? Is that something you considered, that somebody sent the Australian dollars from here?

DOWNER: We honestly just don't know where the money comes from. And it's $10,000 so it's not so much as to be an alarming amount of money. So it could have come from anywhere. He could have changed the money in a bank somewhere, you see.

QUESTION: Could have been carried from Australia?

DOWNER: Could have? Well - but it could, of course, have come from anywhere. $10,000 is not so much money that you couldn't obtain - you couldn't buy $10,000 worth of the Australian currency overseas: you could.

ENDS