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Transcript 21749

Interview with Alan Jones Radio 2GB, Sydney

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/2005

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 21749

JONES:

Prime Minister good morning

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning Alan.

JONES:

Well it's not just the drug ring at Sydney Airport is it, that really got Schapelle Corby in a mess. But in 1997 as you know, another couple travelling to Bali arrived to find in their luggage an airtight bag, similar to the size of a loaf of bread. They were told by Consular officials if you get caught with that mate, you'll be eating Nasi Goreng for the rest of your life and he was advised to flush the stuff down the toilet. But none of that was made known to the Corby people until the matter appeared on Channel 9 last Sunday?

PRIME MINISTER:

Alan I am aware of that. Can I just say in relation to this letter. This arose from a request, so I'm told, by Corby's defence team that the tape of the Channel 9 programme be played to the court. The court said it would accept a letter - that letter was requested on Thursday night and it was provided to Schapelle Corby's lawyers on Friday night. The terms of it were settled by the Attorney General. It's quite a factual letter. As I've said before, I feel for this girl very much, I know many Australians do as well. I can't interfere in any way in the justice system of Indonesia any more than I can interfere in the justice system of Australia and I shouldn't. I want a fair and true and just verdict and the government will do everything it should to help provide information that is relevant to this case, if it is asked for it.

JONES:

Let me just ask you this though. I mean everyone agrees with what you say, you can't interfere in the process but given that the Corby case was running for seven months and not a word from our own Consulate in Bali that an episode similar to hers has occurred in 1997 and when that information did come forward it was too late for the defence case. Then we've got the drug ring in Sydney taking place on the same day that Schapelle Corby and her bags passed through Sydney Airport. Then you've got Schapelle Corby's baggage when she gets to Bali, so contaminated by every Tom, Dick and Harry handling it, that finger prints mean nothing. Then the Indonesian officials refused to allow forensic examination of the marijuana to determine its source. Then we have no record of the weight of Schapelle Corby's bags in Brisbane; those computer records aren't kept. Now given that those circumstances have conspired to prevent the girl providing any kind of defence, without interfering would it be improper for our Government to ask Indonesian authorities at the highest level for an official pardon of this woman?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Alan you don't ask for a pardon until there is something to be pardoned.

JONES:

That's a good answer. So...

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I can't say anymore than that. I'm stating reality. It is tremendously important that people be circumspect in what they say. I do feel for her as the whole country feels for her but she is in another country. We would rightly resent a foreign government telling the Supreme Court of New South Wales how to conduct a criminal trial of an American or an Englishman or an Indonesian, if that person were charged with an offence in Australia.

JONES:

About being circumspect - I've got a chronology of dates when the Federal Police Commissioner, I've just spoken to him about all of this, has done nothing but criticise the Corby defence case. If that had happened in Australia he'd be guilty of contempt, do you have a concern about his...?

PRIME MINISTER:

All I can say is that I have been very circumspect, the Attorney General has been very circumspect and I believe everybody in any position of authority in Australia should be circumspect if we are really concerned that this girl will receive a fair trial. I don't know the true circumstances of the case, very few people do. I expressed the hope yesterday that we had a fair and true verdict - that is all we can ask for, that justice be truly done. And I will do everything and the Government will do everything that it is proper to do to help the defence and the preparation of this case. The defence lawyers have had lots of discussions with Mr Downer and we have tried to respond and we will continue to respond to any request that is made of us that we can properly help with, but...

JONES:

Except that the Consular in Bali knew of this previous episode involving these two people and didn't make that known to the Corby case and it's been running for seven months.

PRIME MINISTER:

But, I would need to have that person's version of that. I'll need to have that person's comment on that to be able to respond and you have to bear in mind that no two circumstances of a case are similar - now I'm not saying that it's... I'm not passing a judgement, but there are particular circumstances in this case and the relevance of the letter that was provided is of course contained in the last sentence where it says the police believe these baggage handlers were on duty on the 8th of October 2004. Now that's the relevance of that letter. It's carefully worded, as it should be, because all we can do with a letter like this is provide information that might be relevant. The question of the relevance of this information is ultimately a matter for the Indonesian court to determine.

JONES:

PM, on another matter, the Japanese Government has lodged a so-called "secret" application to extend their annual cull of whales for scientific purposes to include humpbacks. So are we led to believe that the majestic humpback whale is going to face slaughter for Japanese menus?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are very concerned about this and we find it hard to believe that a cull of what, 400 minke whales, and we're talking here about the minkes not the humpbacks, is scientific. And what is happening at the moment is that Australia is discussing this issue with New Zealand, America and Britain. The aim is for those four countries to lodge what the foreign service calls a demarche - in plain language Alan that is a representation to the Japanese Government not to go ahead with this. We are concerned about it and I can assure your listeners that we will push very hard for a change by the Japanese. There are some limits to what we can do, some people have said well we should take action by force if necessary to keep them out of the Antarctic...

JONES:

That means patrol boats boarding Japanese vessels?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes. But bear in mind that Japan and many other countries do not recognise our claims in the Antarctic. There has always been a degree of ambiguity about the attitude of other countries, including the Americans to our claims in the Antarctic. So it's certainly not clear under international law that such behaviour by Australia would be correct. I think everybody would agree that the first thing we should try and do is to bring about a change of attitude by Japan through diplomatic means and getting a joint representation from Australia, Britain, America and New Zealand is not a bad start and we're working on that right at the moment and I hope that that will occur in the very near future.

JONES:

Good on you. They have threatened us I see to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission if they don't get their way in broadening their harvest. I understand it, and I'm sure you've been briefed on this, that they've lobbied enough of the 55 member countries in the Whaling Commission to undermine the majority that the anti-whaling countries had on the commission. That being the case the anti-whaling commission may approve of that harvest.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there is a way about the attitude of some of the countries on the Whaling Commission, let me put it carefully, let me put it in those... and that is why we think the best way at the moment is to have this joint representation from those four countries. Now we are friendly with Japan, we have a good relationship with Japan but this is an issue where we disagree with Japan and we disagree very strongly, it's a view we've held for a long time and it's a view I can assure your listeners we'll continue to push very hard and in all appropriate ways.

JONES:

Good on you. Good to talk to you PM and thank you for your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

Transcript 21749