Question 27

Outcome 2, Output 2.1.1
Topic: Schapelle Corby 
Written question
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja asked on 03/06/05:

(1)      In the wake of Schapelle Corby’s arrest, Minister Downer indicated that the reason why the CCTV tapes were not available was because they are, as a matter of course, usually destroyed within a few hours. Yet during Estimates last week, the Minister for Justice and Customs suggested that they were usually retained for about a month. Which is the case?
(2)      If the answer to 1 is a month, why was it not possible to obtain the CCTV tapes for the day on which Schapelle Corby departed Australia?
(3)      If the answer to 1 is a few hours, doesn’t this raise serious security concerns given that a terrorist could board a plane headed for LA or London or New York and attempt a hijacking half–way through that journey, yet the CCTV tapes from the airport would be destroyed before the plane touched down in its destination city?
(4)      Have Australian consular officials visited Schapelle Corby since her conviction on Friday 27 May? If so, what can you tell us about her current state of health and welfare?
(5)      In relation to the Government’s statement that it offered two QCs to assist Ms Corby’s legal team, when was this offer first made?
(6)      Was the offer communicated directly to Ms Corby or one of her legal representatives?

(7)      If the answer to 6 is yes?
(a)       How was this communicated?
(b)       Who phoned whom?
(c)       When?
(d)       Exactly who was the offer communicated to?

(8)      It has been reported that the Attorney-General approached the two QCs and asked them to consider providing pro bono services to Ms Corby. Is this a usual request in relation to an Australian charged with an offence in a foreign nation?
(9)      Has this Government ever made a similar request to a legal practitioner to provide pro bono services to an Australian imprisoned overseas?
(10)   Is it accurate to say that when Minister Downer stated that the Government had offered 2 QCs to assist Ms Corby, the Government had simply obtained the agreement of the QCs to provide their services free of charge to her?
(11)   Is it the Government's view that individual legal practitioners—rather than the Commonwealth—should bear the financial burden of providing legal representation to Australian prisoners overseas?

(12)   The Department indicated during Estimates that Australian prisoners overseas may apply for financial assistance from the Commonwealth to fund their legal representation.
(a)       How are these applications assessed?
(b)       Are they means-tested in the same way as legal aid?

(13)   Has the Government ever given consideration to funding legal representation for all Australians charged with offences overseas, given the significantly higher stakes involved in these cases? (ie the potential to be imprisoned outside of Australia for many years?)
(14)   Did the Government pay for Queens Counsel, Mr Tom Percy’s flight to Bali?

(1) & (2) The Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) has advised that there was no “industry standard” for the retention of (unregulated) video surveillance records in October 2004. Since that time, Qantas has adopted a standard of retaining such records for 30 days and this is likely to be adopted as the “industry standard” following an extensive review of surveillance practices by airports and airlines. An announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services on 7 June 2005 included reference to work to be done by the Attorney–General’s Department and DOTARS on developing advice on video surveillance law.

Qantas advised that closed circuit television (CCTV) where activated is used for general surveillance purposes only and not to link passengers with their baggage. Generally such footage is kept for 30 days however in the Brisbane Domestic Terminal in October 2004 there was a malfunction in the digital CCTV system rendering much of the footage unrecoverable, including any footage of relevance to Ms Corby.

The Department of Transport and Regional Services has advised that at this stage there is no regulated standard for the retention of CCTV image, although the development of new legislation dealing with workplace surveillance was part of an announcement made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney–General and Minister for Justice and Customs on 7 June 2005. Some images have been retained for a matter of hours rather than days because aviation security issues are identified within such a timeframe. This extends to allow for the time taken for international flights to reach their destinations 

(3)       Consular officials from the Australian Consulate-General in Denpasar have been visiting Ms Corby regularly since her conviction to ensure her welfare and continuing access to her lawyers and any medical services she may require.
(4)       24 March 2005.
(5)       The offer was communicated to Ms Corby’s legal representatives while they were in Bali.

(a) By telephone.
(b) An adviser from the Attorney-General’s office telephoned Hoolihan’s Lawyers and was instructed to contact Matthew Gibson as the designated point of contact. The adviser subsequently contacted Matthew Gibson.
(c) 24 March 2005.
(d) Matthew Gibson of Hoolihan’s Lawyers.

(8) & (9) Consular assistance can vary on a case-by-case basis within the framework of the Consular Service Charter, and consistent with the Government’s commitment to provide appropriate assistance to Australians in need overseas.
(10)    The two QCs offered to provide their services free of charge to Ms Corby.
(11)    Financial assistance may be available to Australians overseas to cover overseas legal and related costs if an application for financial assistance falls within the scope of the Special Circumstances (Overseas) Scheme. This scheme is administered by the Attorney-General and applications are treated as being confidential.
(12)    (a) Applications for financial assistance under the Special Circumstances (Overseas) Scheme are assessed in terms of the guidelines for that Scheme.

Assistance may be granted when it is determined that there are special circumstances that either:
·  lead to the conclusion that there is a moral obligation on the Commonwealth to make payment, and/or
·  constitute compassionate grounds for the Commonwealth’s meeting all or some of the costs taking into consideration:
-      the merits of the applicant’s case of which assistance is sought
-      the applicant’s lack of means to pay the costs
-      the lack of legal aid for the applicant in the country where the costs have been or are to be incurred, and
-      the applicant’s connection with Australia.
(b) No. However, the applicant’s lack of means to pay the costs is a relevant consideration.

(13)    All Australians charged with offences overseas are eligible to apply for financial assistance under the Special Circumstances (Overseas) Scheme.
(14)    No.

Remember this is an investigation of "The Schapelle Corby Case file"  an independent 
review of the propositions/ scenario's. The correlating of information and event's 
that have unfolded over time, could they be mere coincidence or fact?.