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Heartfelt pleas in parliament for Bali duo

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An emotional Julie Bishop and her Labor counterpart Tanya Plibersek have joined forces to issue a last-ditch public plea for the lives of the Bali Nine ringleaders.

In her strongest message yet to Indonesia, the foreign minister fought back tears during a special speech in parliament to urge clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

The pair is expected to face a firing squad within weeks.

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Australia was not seeking to understate the gravity of their crimes but the death penalty was going too far, Ms Bishop said.

“This motion goes to the heart of what we believe will be a grave injustice against two Australian citizens facing execution in Indonesia,” she told the lower house on Thursday.

“Without doubt, Andrew and Myuran need to pay for their crimes with lengthy jail sentences but they should not need to pay with their lives.”

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Ms Plibersek, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, shared a personal story – that of her prominent husband Michael Coutts-Trotter – to stress the importance of remorse and redemption.

“In 1988, my husband left prison after being charged and convicted of a similar crime to these young men.”

She could not imagine if her husband had been caught for his drug crimes in Thailand instead of Australia.

“I imagine what would have happened if he had been caught in Thailand instead of in Australia where that crime was committed.”

“What would the world have missed out on? They would have missed out on the three beautiful children we have had together,” Ms Plibersek said.

“They would have missed out on a man who spent the rest of his life making amends for the crime that he committed.”

Ms Plibersek was careful not to directly criticise the Indonesian government, choosing instead to quote others to make her point against the death penalty.

“It’s left over from an earlier and more barbaric time,” she said.

Thousands of Australians, including parliamentarians, have implored Indonesia for a stay of the Australians’ executions.

Ms Bishop said a decade from their crimes, Chan and Sukumaran were changed men and had much to offer if they stayed in prison.

“I believe it is Indonesia that will lose the most from executing these two young men,” she said.

– AAP

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