As many grieve the deaths by firing squad of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has called for a “discussion” about the death penalty.
Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 34, were shot dead on the prison island of Nusakambangan early on Wednesday morning. They had been sentenced to death for their parts in a plot to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin into Australia.
In response Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia was “withdrawing” its ambassador Ian Grigson from Jakarta for consultations and had suspended ministerial contact with Indonesia.
Indonesia’s attorney-general Muhammad Prasetyo has dismissed the withdrawal as a “temporary reaction” while foreign minister Retno Marsudi has said there are no plans for Indonesia to withdraw its ambassador in Canberra.
Mr Joyce told Lateline many Australians supported capital punishment.
“I do get approached by people saying, ‘Well, that might be your view, Barnaby, that you don’t support the death penalty, but that’s not our view’,” he said.
Saying he was “startled” by such sentiments, he added: “I think that the discussion we’re having about others we should also be carrying out domestically.”
The Agriculture Minister, who has been workingto re-establish the live cattle trade with Indonesia, also downplayed the decision to withdraw Australia’s ambassador.
Announcing the move in the immediate wake of the executions yesterday, Mr Abbott said the move was “very unusual, indeed unprecedented”, and said “I don’t want to minimise the gravity of what we’ve done”.
“I don’t think it’s a case of withdraw,” Mr Joyce told Lateline.
“I think the technical term is coming home for consultations.”
However, he refused to rule out the prospect of Indonesia reducing cattle imports in retaliation for Australia’s diplomatic moves.
“That’s for the Indonesian government,” he said.
“They are a sovereign nation. They’re a democracy.”
Indonesia’s vice president Jusuf Kalla has been reported in the state news agency as saying that trade between his country and Australia would not be disrupted by the ambassador’s withdrawal.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia was right to argue that the state should not take someone’s life.
“We asked the Indonesian president to be strong, to show the strength that comes from being able to show mercy to somebody who has been convicted of a capital offence and we are bitterly disappointed, we all are,” he said.
Mr Turnbull also said the decision to withdraw Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia was a measured response to the executions.
“The relationship with Indonesia is important obviously and we have a strong relationship with Indonesia, we have a difference of opinion over this and its important the Indonesians understand the strength of our feelings,” he said.
Indonesia is Australia’s 12th biggest trading partner.
During the last three years, both Labor and Coalition governments have been working toward a so-called Comprehensive Economic Partnership between to boost trade with Indonesia.