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Transcript: doorstop interview of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Adelaide, 24 November 2004 [Arrests in Indonesians relating to the Australian embassy bombing]\n\n



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E and OE

November 24, 2004

Transcript

Doorstop - Adelaide

Journalist: Can you tell us what the Australian government knows about reports the Indonesians have arrested the third on the most wanted list for the embassy bombing.

Minister: Well we know there have been a number of arrests by the Indonesian police because they've made that public. We welcome the work that the Indonesian national police are doing now and following up the various leads that have become available. They have been vigorous in tracking down and trying to bring to justice

those responsible for the bombing of the Australian embassy in September. We welcome the real determination the Indonesians are showing to find the people responsible.

Journalist: Can you confirm that I think his name is Rois or Iman (inaudible)

Minister: I am not going to get into any names. That's a matter for Indonesian police.

Journalist: Can you confirm that this unnamed person has been arrested?

Minister: I can confirm that the Indonesian police have arrested some people, but I don't want to - well I understand it's around four so far. But I don't want to get into particularly who they have arrested. That's a matter for them to talk about, these people have been arrested, they will obviously, there's an expectation they'll be charged and be prosecuted but we just have to wait and see and in the interim making sure that our cooperative arrangements with Indonesia work to the maximum effect. We don't want to be denying the public

information that would be of genuine interest to them but we have to be careful publicly how we handle these issues.

Journalist: Are they significant people (inaudible) .. involved in the organisation.

Minister: Well they are making good progress and we welcome the progress that the Indonesian government is making so we don't want to get into (inaudible) it's a matter for them. (inaudible) in Jakarta take it up with the Indonesian police and they may wish to say a lot more, they tend to be quite willing to talk pretty openly. But remember that the Indonesian national Police are responsible for the investigation, we have extensive cooperation with them through the Australian Federal Police but we do want to leave the lead on this issue to the Indonesian National police, but we welcome what they have been doing, they have been doing an excellent job in following up various leads and ensuring that they do bring to justice those responsible for the Jakarta embassy bombing.

Journalist: Can you tell us whether our intelligence services or our police played

any role in the four arrests?

Minister: I can't tell you, I won't tell you, one way or the other. I will not confirm or deny anything to do with intelligence (inaudible) that the Australian Federal Police work very closely with the Indonesians but when it comes to intelligence we never, we don't confirm or deny any involvement of our intelligence services.

Journalist: (inaudible)

Minister: I don't know if there will be any more arrests, I don't have expectations like that.

Journalist: can I ask you about (inaudible) what is the federal government doing or what can you do (inaudible) paedophile in the UK.

Minister: Well, what we are doing is talking with the British Government, particularly with the Home Office which is the government department which is responsible for these cases, the prisoner exchange systems and obviously that applies to

somebody who might come to Australia off parole. This is a reasonably complicated case, in the sense that the gentleman involved is an Australian citizen and the Premier rang me yesterday and asked me if I could confiscate his passport. I agree with the Premier, I think we should try to stop him coming back to South Australia, we don't want him back in South Australia until he serves his full sentence and that includes his parole period. But he is an Australian citizen so if I were to cancel his passport he might still have, through legal appeal, the right of return so we have to take that into account. I think in any case the simplest way for us to progress is to encourage the British Home Office to reconsider this case and hopefully decide that he shouldn't leave the UK.

Now we have had some further discussions with the Home Office and we have had quite positive responses from them at this stage but no final decision has been made. I hope in the end that the British come to the conclusion that its better for the parole to be served in the UK so the British themselves are to monitor his behaviour and

ensure he fulfils the conditions of the parole. I think frankly, and we've made this point to the British government, frankly we would feel uncomfortable with somebody being sent back to Australia while still on parole having been convicted and sentenced for crimes of that kind.

Journalist: (inaudible) it sound like the legal fight might more trouble than its worth?

Minister: Well it's not a question of whether its more trouble than its worth, it's a question here of looking at what our options are which are likely to succeed. So our objective will be to keep him in the UK and the easiest way to do that is for the British government to decide to keep him in the UK until he serves out his parole.

It's conceivable I could confiscate his passport but in doing so that might be subject to legal appeal on the grounds he is an Australian citizen and has the right to return to Australia, so I might lose that. So I think the best way I can put it to you that the simplest solution would be for the British Home Office to make the decision to keep him in the UK and we hope that they

will do that and we're having discussions with them about precisely that.

Journalist: Would you be more comfortable (inaudible) he has family in the area and likely to head back here sooner or later, would you prefer it (inaudible).

Minister: Let's just get that into some context. While there was an application for him to return to Australia, the British government said he could, on the prisoner exchange program, now when I asked the Attorney Generals department in Canberra and the state equivalent had a look at this, they came to the conclusion that if he is going to come back to Australia anyway, it would be better if he came back under the terms of his parole and so they signed documents to that effect. But frankly both the Premier and I think it would be better if he didn't come back at all, till he'd completed his parole period, which will be I think, I'm right in saying is on the 24th December 2006. After that as with any Australian citizen he is entitled to come to Australia, you can't say to somebody who is an Australian citizen they can't come to

Australia, that's a very poor thing to do in any case.

Journalist: The latest (inaudible) found in Indonesia is a marijuana, a 42 year old, how are you dealing with him, are you supporting him or are you?

Minister: Well look, what we do is provide consular assistance and we will provide consular assistance to him. We understand it is an Adelaide man has been arrested and he's been accused of being in possession of marijuana, so this is a matter the Indonesian Police are still investigating and we provide consular assistance to him, to Australians in those circumstances. Mind you, don't get me wrong, we don't encourage people to use drugs in Australia, traffic drugs internationally or to use drugs in other countries. And whatever our laws might be here in South Australia in relation to marijuana those laws do not apply in South East Asia. In South East Asia the laws are much less liberal than in Australia in relation and people can only be warned by these experiences that we've had in recent times of Australians being arrested in

relation to allegations of drug trafficking or being in possession of drugs, in this case not trafficking but being in possession of drugs.

Journalist: Mark Latham (inaudible) slack over election loss and leadership, do you have any sympathy for him?

Minister: My recollection is that he was somebody who enjoyed abusing, mocking and denigrating anybody associated with the Liberal Party or in the Liberal Party, and for him to turn to the Liberal Party for sympathy would be bizarre indeed. We offer him no sympathy I think Mark Latham was a poor choice to make the Leader of the Opposition, I think the Labor Party should have gone back to Kim Beazley in December last year. I was pleased that they chose Mark Latham. Some people in the Canberra press gallery thought Mark Latham was some kind of emerging genius. I always thought he would be unsuccessful as leader of the Labor Party and my view is he will not last as the Leader of the Labor Party. The Labor Party is a political party that aspires to power, its not like the Democrats of the Greens that make a bit of an ideological point, that's all

they do, the Labor Party is a party that want to be a party of power, of government and they will not keep Mark Latham for more than 18 months because they will judge that he can't get elected.

Journalist: (inaudible)

Minister: My advice to him is to watch his back, watch his back because I think there is going to be a strong campaign within some elements of the Labor Party designed to topple Mark Latham by Christmas next year, not Christmas this year, that's not going to happen by Christmas this year, but by Christmas next year. Now all the signs are there, somebody , a front bencher not just a maverick back bencher, but a significant frontbencher, unnamed, has gone to the Bulletin magazine, has told the Bulletin magazine that they have got to get rid of Mark Latham. And by the way I agree with this frontbencher. I think they have to get rid of Mark Latham if they're to have any chance of winning the next election. But this is the beginning of the end, I'm an expert of this topic, one of the many things I'm an expert on..

Journalist: Brings back unhappy memories..

Minister: Why do you think they were unhappy (inaudible) shows the bias of the ABC, no I'm joking, joking.

Journalist: (inaudible)

Minister: Well I mean, for me, for John Howard back before 1989, for Simon Crean more recently, the signs are always there, when the frontbench are going around saying you can't survive or they can't win with you. You know you're doomed, you have to have the solid support of your front bench and its perfectly clear that at least some significant figures on Mark Latham's frontbench, having willingly accepted the position of the shadow cabinet, are now going around saying he can't win, and their right he can't win.

Journalist: (inaudible)

Minister: You think I might just be spinning a political line, it's a statement of the obvious.

Journalist: (inaudible)

Minister: Well its what happens every time, you can always see when the tide is ending for a Leader of the Opposition, and I see that tide. And I see it ending and I think all we (inaudible) look to see is who the next leader of the Labor Party's going to be. I assume, myself and do keep a transcript of this, but I assume it will be Kim Beazley, but they may take a punt on someone else, but having taken a punt on a new (inaudible) outside in Mark Latham they probably won't do it twice, think they'll go back to Beazley.

Journalist: (inaudible) what do you know, can you describe the events being a significant blow to the capabilities to terrorists in Indonesia, can you give us an indication of how important these arrests are in terms of capability of terror organisations.

Minister: I think that it's helpful of course it is. I mean coming out of the horrors of the Bali bombings, now coming out of the Jakarta bombing, Jakarta embassy bombing, and ten people were killed there, rounding up more of these people, particularly those who are organisers or terrorists practicing in

Indonesia is very promising, there's no doubt about that. Now the person ,who after all who committed these bombings at the Jakarta embassy was a suicide bomber, so do get to the people who are behind this suicide bombing and obviously its very important and promising if the Indonesia police are now starting to feel confident enough to make arrests.

Journalist: So these people are organisers (inaudible)

Minister: (inaudible) suicide bomber, but there were people behind the suicide bomber who helped to organise the suicide bombing. We very much hope the Indonesians will be able to arrest those people and there are some signs now they are making progress and we welcome that.

Journalist: Mufti and the Indonesian interfaith conference over there and religion, being labelled as racist and vindictive, what's your take on that.

Minister: I can't really keep responding to (inaudible) dished out my way, I don't' care what they say. We can't invite everybody

and Muslim Australia will be represented and there'll be different types of Christians, there'll be Jewish representation, cant' have everybody that's all. So I don't think Australia should fall into an unseemly squabble about who's invited and who's not invited, I think as long as we have credible people who make a contribution to Australia that's good, this is not about giving preference to one person or another person within Australia this about making sure moderate religious leaders from around the region are able to get together and promote the message of moderate spirituality as one of the ways of fighting terrorism.

Journalist: The Sheik's history of being outspoken about the Howard government didn't play any part at all.

Minister: Well, look, lots of people are outspoken about the Howard government, they had there day on the 9th of October.

Thank you.

ENDS

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