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Rudd Government must do more to help Merauke Five.

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Tue, 9th June 2009

Rudd Government must do more to help Merauke Five

The Hon Julie Bishop MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Deputy Leader of the Opposition

The Rudd Government is prepared to ignore the plight of five Australians stranded in Indonesia rather than risk offending the Indonesian Government and losing support for Mr Rudd’s personal ambition for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said today.

Ms Bishop said the Rudd Government must stop using the excuse that the Indonesian legal system has prevented any high level action being taken and must make demands of the Indonesian Government that the five Australians held in Merauke since last September are released immediately.

“I am advised that there is no court order preventing the Meruake Five from leaving Indonesia and in fact the High court ordered that they leave. The travel ban placed on the group has come from Indonesia’s Attorney-General,” she said.

“Their departure has been prevented by political intervention which takes the issue beyond the legal process and makes it a political issue.”

Rudd Government Trade Minister Simon Crean last week revealed that the Government had no intention of supporting the Merauke Five when he said, “I wouldn't like to be in their position. But the fact of the matter is they landed without flight security or immigration checks, they were found guilty in the District Court, they were acquitted and now it's been appealed. This is what's called the legal system."

Ms Bishop said the five Australians had been exonerated in an appeal to the Indonesian High Court and would have been able to leave Indonesia but for the intervention of the Attorney-General.

“The Rudd Government is losing its moral compass and its inaction appears to be influenced by Mr Rudd’s vanity in pursuit of a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council,” she said.

“While millions of taxpayers’ dollars are being diverted to support this ego-driven bid, it is disgraceful for the Rudd Government to abandon Australians in distress overseas.”