Request for Widodo phone call stands: PM

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is still waiting for a phone call from the Indonesian president in his attempts to avert the deaths of the two Bali Nine drug smugglers.


Mr Abbott said he last spoke with President Joko Widodo about a fortnight ago to raise the issue of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on death row in Indonesia.

“He might think that the subject has been well and truly discussed, but my request for a phone call stands and it’s up to the Indonesian president to respond,” he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

Even so, Mr Abbott said the relationship between Australia and Indonesia is as at least as strong under his government as under the former Labor government.

He was responding to comments by Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek that the relationship has been damaged by the Abbott government’s policy of turning-back of asylum seeking boats.

“It has not been good for it in the past,” she told Sky News.

But Mr Abbott said the fact that the people smuggling trade has all but shut because of the policies of this government is one of the reasons why the relationship is stronger.

“There isn’t that irritant in the relationship that existed for about five years under the former government,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the planned execution of the two drug smugglers is unlikely to go ahead until all legal proceedings are completed.

Australia is waiting for the outcome of legal proceedings including an appeal against the final rejection of the clemency plea and judicial commission hearings about allegations of bribery and corruption at Chan and Sukumaran’s original trial.

“I cannot imagine that further plans for the execution of these two Australian citizens would be proceeding while there are legal options still being pursued,” Ms Bishop told reporters in Perth.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon travelled to Indonesia last week with the Grand Mufti of Australia, who pleaded for mercy for the pair.

Back in Adelaide, Senator Xenophon said he hoped the religious leader’s message would spark a rethink in Jakarta.

“I hope there are now going to be Islamic clerics, many of whom I spoke to privately who agree with that position, who can now feel emboldened to speak out in Indonesia for mercy for Chan and Sukumaran,” he told reporters.