House of Representatives

Official Hansard
No. 10, 2005 - Monday, 30 May 2005

Flash Back - Ms Schapelle Corby

Mr RUDD (2.00 pm)—My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Could the minister advise the House what contact Bali consular officials have had with
Ms Schapelle Corby since she was sentenced on Friday, and is the government confident
that she is receiving sufficient access to healthcare and counselling services to ensure
her physical and mental wellbeing? Can the minister also inform the House whether the
Australian negotiating team has left for Jakarta for the purposes of concluding a prisoner
exchange treaty with Indonesia and when he expects that agreement to be concluded.

Mr DOWNER—I thank the honourable member for his question. The answer to the first part of it is that the Acting Consul- General in Bali, Ross Tysoe, went and called on Ms Schapelle Corby immediately after she returned to the prison on Friday. He had a discussion with her for about 40 minutes and is obviously doing his best to monitor her welfare. He did offer her the services of a doctor if she wished, and I know that she said she did not need those services. Ross Tysoe, by the way, was the Consul-General in Bali at the time of the Bali bombing, so he knows the place very well, and I think he has done a very good job.

In answer to the second part of the question, I spoke with the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs on the telephone yesterday. He was in Hanoi. We had a discussion about two issues, one of them being the case of Schapelle Corby. I explained to him that in Australia we obviously accepted the Indonesian legal processes but that there was substantial concern in Australia about this issue. He said that he was aware of the issue and aware of some of the controversy in Australia. He did say that Indonesia would be willing to negotiate a prisoner transfer agreement and I explained to him that our team would be up there at the beginning of next week. We have already sent a draft of a prisoner transfer agreement to the Indonesians.

I also take the opportunity of saying that I can understand that people have feelings one way or another about the Schapelle Corby case. A lot of people in Australia feel that she is innocent and she should be freed and so on. Let me just make this point, though: nothing is going to be gained on behalf of Schapelle Corby or anybody else by constant berating and abuse of Indonesia, the Indonesian government and the Indonesian legal system. That is just going to be counterproductive. It will not help Schapelle Corby and it will not help our broader national interests. It is important that people who wish to campaign for Schapelle Corby remember that, ultimately, the authorities they have to convince are the Indonesian judicial authorities. Abuse of Indonesia will not encourage support in Indonesia for their cause, and it is very important that that is remembered. There are 156 Australians serving sentences overseas. The government will provide support for those people, as Australian governments have always done. We will continue to do that in all of those cases.

Source: http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr300505.pdf