Road to Kerobokan - Transcript
PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 13 February , 2006
CAROLINE JONES, PRESENTER: Hello. I'm Caroline Jones. Welcome to a new season of Australian Story. Tonight, the ordeal that's tested an ordinary Australian family beyond their worst imaginings. In Bali today, 20-year-old Scott Rush was finally sentenced for his part in attempting to smuggle more than 8kg of heroin into Australia. Scott Rush was one of the so-called drug mules arrested at Denpasar Airport in April last year with heroin strapped to their bodies. Earlier, his suspicious parents had made desperate efforts to notify the Australian Federal Police to stop their son going to Bali. And the police have been criticised for working with the Indonesians and exposing nine young Australians to the death penalty. Tonight, you'll hear from all key parties, including the AFP, but there are still legal constraints that prevent discussion of some issues. This, then, is the story of the Rush family, and stay with us for an Internet forum right after the program.
CHRISTINE RUSH: Bali's a very pleasant place to be. The climate's lovely, the food is lovely, the people are lovely, and there are lots of beautiful places to go. But the last 10 months has been surreal, basically. We're pretty ordinary Mr and Mrs Average Suburbia. I'm a teacher and Lee has been with Telstra for 30 years. We've tried not to live our dreams through our kids and encourage whatever, but of course one would never want this.
LEE RUSH: Under no circumstances do I condone the trafficking of drugs. I particularly dislike drugs of any nature, always have. When I received a call from the Australian Government authorities that Scott had been detained in Indonesia for attempting to export heroin, I was speechless, sickened to the gut. Within me, unfortunately, I have a lot of anger. Some of it leans towards Scott, but under no circumstances do I blame Scott.
SCOTT RUSH: I'm responsible for my own actions and, you know, I just should have seen it coming. I should have seen it coming, you know. I was...I was a bit suspicious of something, but nothing to this degree. I believe that I was an easy target. Me and my friend, we'd never been overseas before and, you know, I was looking for a goal in the future and...you know, someone...I believed that someone else could help me, so...don't trust...don't trust what you don't know, you know.
LEE RUSH: In the early stages when we understood that Scott may receive the death penalty, that was extremely disturbing to me. And we were told that they just take them away into the jungle and shoot them, and that their weapons are extremely inaccurate. One horrific dream that I had was where I could visually quite clearly see Scott being led off into the jungle to be shot by the very antique weapons. And I put myself in a position where I managed to get a rifle myself and yelled out, "I brought you into this world, I'll take you out, no-one else will."
CHRISTINE RUSH: We have three boys and Scott is the youngest. Scott had plenty of potential. He loved to be part of a team. And he was captain of the under-17 Taylor Bridge Rugby Club.
DEAN RUSH, BROTHER: Scott and I were really close as kids. Scott was always a larrikin, always had to be in the spotlight. He had a sense of humour as well and he's a good kid. I noticed a change in Scott during his late teenage years. I think he found some...what he considered new friends. And...unfortunately, he was always under the negative influence of those around him, being easily led and a stubborn fellow, at that.
LEE RUSH: When I came home from work on 7th April last year, my middle son informed me that there were several messages on the answering machine from a Flight Centre in Sydney. I was informed that Scott had an airline ticket. His destination was Bali, Indonesia. That floored me, considering that Scott never had a passport. He certainly didn't have the finances to be able to participate in such a trip.
CHRISTINE RUSH: Scott lived at home and we thought he was camping at the coast not very far away.
LEE RUSH: And this phone call made us feel absolutely sick in the stomach. Scott, in the past, has certainly been involved in some misdemeanors. These were minor incidents. The things that concerned me - the extra activities at night, dropping off in his studies, the extra sleeping-in in the mornings. It was a gut feeling more than anything, but probably what I had seen over the last few months of Scott's change in personality that, possibly, there was some link with drugs. I phoned a good mate of mine, Bob Myers. Bob is a barrister. I could tell by the sound of his voice that he was very, very concerned for Scott, and his first impression that he thought Scott may be used as a drug mule.
BOB MYERS, BARRISTER: As I said to Lee, "If I was in your shoes I'd be going to the Federal Police and you know, I can get in contact with them." You see, in all my years on this man's earth I thought that that's what our police force were prepared to do. I mean, it's everyone's obligation to prevent the commission of a crime.
LEE RUSH: I was informed at 1:30 in the morning that Scott would be spoken to and asked not to board the flight to Bali. It wasn't until about mid-morning that I received a call from Bob. In a distressed tone in his voice he said, "Mate, we could not stop him. They have let him go through and he's on his way to Bali."
MIKE PHELAN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: He was not approached when he was at the airport, and that is common practice. The AFP in the first instance, had no lawful authority to stop Scott Rush. He is an adult.
CHRISTINE RUSH: As it has now transpired, we now know that the Federal Police had a group of people under surveillance.
MIKE PHELAN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: So, then you have to look at the next step. And that is will alerting someone disrupt the operational integrity of our investigation? Clearly, in this case, there was a risk that that would occur, therefore we wouldn't do it.
CHRISTINE RUSH: Scott was arrested about 10 o'clock on the evening of 17 April. We were not informed until 1:30 the following afternoon. So, I really do wonder why it took 14 hours to contact our family. It was still surreal. It was unbelievable until we actually saw the pictures on the TV.
SCOTT RUSH: It came as a complete shock to me. I was scared, I was completely scared at the time. There was one, one Australian officer present. I'm pretty sure he was involved in the, you know, capture of us. He got straight on his phone and said, you know, "We've got 'em." He seemed to be pretty happy about the whole thing. He would've known all along that, you know, that we were trying to reach out. Trying to reach out for help.
CHRISTINE RUSH: Scott is one of the younger ones. He was 19 and a half when he was arrested, and he's our baby. Pictures that were taken of them at the airport were disgusting. Degrading and humiliating, when they were actually stripped on camera and shown in their underpants. And, I mean, to have that flashed around the world is just devastating. And I think that Scott is very lucky that he hasn't seen it. We arrived in Bali within three days. Lee and I didn't have passports ourselves, so we had to organise that. We gave him a cuddle, and I shed a few tears. Dreadful. Unbelievably dreadful. (Emotional) Sorry. We just said to him, "We're going to be here."
SCOTT RUSH: It's extremely important to have my parents here. My parents are giving me satisfaction of...that I'm not, you know, that I'm not a complete failure to them, and a complete failure to myself.
CHRISTINE RUSH: I brought over a bible for Scott. It was actually my bible. The passage that I pointed out was John:14. "Let not your heart be troubled." Well, I hoped it might settle him down. Give him hope. We try to see Scott five days a week for either morning or afternoon. Without wanting to be offensive, I would say that Indonesia is what I would call a third world developing country. The prisoners in Kerobokan LP are very dependent on the families for support.
LEE RUSH: In Indonesia, there is no government support for detainees or criminals in holding cells or jail. We found out very early that we needed to feed Scott. We needed to bring the necessities of hygiene. This was very difficult as we didn't understand the culture, the language, the currency. There has been reports within Indonesia of the bird flu epidemic. Coming into the wet season, the problem of mosquitoes. I myself contacted dengue fever, and I was very, very ill for some days. I considered how would Scott get on if he was stricken with this disease, dengue fever.
CHRISTINE RUSH: It's very worrying indeed to know that Scott is in such an environment. Institutionalisation, of course, it brings on mental health issues, drug abuse issues, all sorts of things like that. The uncertainty of what is going to happen is very difficult for us. 'Jam karet' as they say, rubber time. You know, one can be packed up ready to go to visit, and it just won't happen. There'll be a riot, a raid, a holy holiday, all sorts of things.
SCENE: AT PRISON, GUARDS WITH MACHINE GUNS, GUNSHOTS RING OUT.
CHRISTINE RUSH: Well, um, obviously there's a raid at the jail, by the police. I'm not sure about the seriousness of it. Um, and we need to get Scott's clothes into him, so that he can appear in court tomorrow, because it's his defence day. So, um, Lee's gone across to see if the guards will take the clothes and perhaps deliver them to Scott later, so that he can be ready for court.
LEE RUSH: No go.
CHRISTINE RUSH: So, what's happening now? Obviously it's...
LEE RUSH: They won't... Couldn't even entice them with money. I've got to come back about 7 o'clock in the morning.
LEE RUSH: Well, since Christmas there's been problems with warnings about terrorism and that sort of thing. And since then they've really lifted up the security, and they've done the odd check, you know, on a weekly, fortnightly, basis. And, yeah, just bad timing on our part. There have been three police raids at the Kerobokan LP jail since Christmas.
TREVOR RUSH, UNCLE: Scott is my nephew. He's going to be traumatised all the way down the track. Pretty unreal really. I mean, when I heard the gunshots, that was a little bit unnerving. You know, when you hear gunshots you straightaway think of Scott. He's in there. He's in there. He's in there where the guns are being fired.
CHRISTINE RUSH: I feel very let down by our Australian Federal Police. We tried to lawfully stop our son leaving the country. It wasn't done. And now we've got this happening, and it's just a nightmare. When the prosecutors asked for life imprisonment, I was totally stunned. But it's possible that the judges might decide on the death penalty anyway. So, it's still not set in concrete that this will not happen. Australian lives, our son's included, were put at risk of the death penalty. It is totally unacceptable. Australian Federal Police wrote two letters to the Indonesian Police listing names of various people, Scott included. And they also gave information about where they would be staying, their passport numbers, and provided black and white photographs. It was stated in the Indonesian court, by the police, that Scott and the others would not have been arrested but for the information provided to the Indonesian Police by our Australian Federal Police.
SCOTT RUSH (IN COURT): The threat made me very frightened, and we were forced to follow whatever they told us to do. I had no opportunity to be away and escape from the threat as I love my family and my mother and my father.
BOB MYERS, BARRISTER: As far as Lee and Christine are concerned, it's been absolute hell for them, knowing that your 19 year old mightn't see his 20th or his 21st birthday. Just disgraceful.
SCOTT RUSH (IN COURT): I hope this will be a lesson for everyone, especially my people in Australia, not to believe other people that you do not know well.
BOB MYERS, BARRISTER: So, obviously, some policeman has decided that the operation is bigger than the nine Australian lives, to make that decision. And that's...that's the decision that worries me. And, I mean, I'd love the person who made the decision to come out and say, "It was my decision, and of course that was right."
MIKE PHELAN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: Ultimately, the decision to, um, to hand the information over to the Indonesian Police and ask the specific request for surveillance vested with, um, with my position, and myself.
BOB MYERS, BARRISTER: It's the AFP that have got the blood on their hands. Nobody else.
MIKE PHELAN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: Well, I think it's... it's unfortunate that, er, you know, that people say that the AFP has blood on its hands. I think...I can understand the emotion in these... You know, I particularly understand it from the families. I understand it from certain, er, portions of the legal fraternity. I fully understand their position. But narcotics trafficking is a dirty business. If we talk about the young lives that have been destroyed by this, the people that have been arrested, there have also been a large number of young lives on the other side of the ledger that have been saved as a result of the AFP's operations over many years in interdicting, particularly heroin and other extremely harmful drugs, you know - in the thousands. Now, there are the parents and relatives of those thousands of people that we've helped.
COLIN MCDONALD QC: I have a background as a consultant in Indonesia in legal cases, and it was through Bob Myers that I got to know Lee and Christine Rush. Australia firmly stands against the imposition of the death penalty. When the Federal Police were appraised of the parents' concern, they could have set in train, from a senior level, conditions, as it were, before they tipped off the Indonesian National Police. They could have reserved for Scott and for all of the others a condition from Indonesia that there would not be an exposure of an Australian citizen - a teenager, Australian citizen - to the death penalty.
MIKE PHELAN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: If you are supplying information to the Indonesian police, they cannot give that assurance. It's the government level that can give that assurance. The government has made a conscious decision to leave those decisions prior to the charging of offenders to the AFP, and we are the ones that discharge that duty.
BOB MYERS, BARRISTER: As far as I'm concerned, Australian law is that no citizen of Australia, let alone Australian public servant, can expose another Australian citizen to the potential death penalty.
MIKE PHELAN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: It was the AFP that supplied the information, you know. It was the alleged offenders that travelled to the country knowing that there was...you know, the penalties for drugs are death.
COLIN MCDONALD QC: It's hard to make operational sense of what did occur. If it was to catch the big guys, that didn't happen. If it was to catch people here in Australia higher in the hierarchy in the drug scene, that didn't happen. Could they have been arrested in Australia? Yes, they could have. And did Indonesia get anything out of it? No. And did we as an Australian society get anything, really, out of it? Yes, some drugs were interdicted in Indonesia, but they would have been in Australia. And there was the potential to catch people who are higher up in the nefarious world of drugs, and that was lost.
MIKE PHELAN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: The thing that is important here for everybody to realise is that even with the aid of hindsight, should the same set of circumstances present themselves again with another syndicate or other people, we would do exactly the same thing.
LEE RUSH: If Scott does obtain a life sentence, we have no intentions of moving to Bali. The cost of maintaining needs for Scott in this country is in the vicinity of approximately $270 to $280 per month.
CHRISTINE RUSH: We obviously have to rearrange our lives to find some way of supporting Scott here. Regarding the assets that we have tried to build up over our lifetime, we have had to mortgage the house to get organised for Scott's legals, and we're going to have to factor in trips to Bali to visit Scott at least yearly. We've actually had to rearrange our will so that our other two sons will be responsible for Scott when anything happens to us.
BOB MYERS, BARRISTER: I feel, obviously, concern and compassion for Lee and Christine. They've committed no crime themselves, and yet it could be seen that they're paying an enormous penalty currently, at least, and probably for the foreseeable future. I play touch football a few times a week, and so that's how I first met Lee. Everyone's terribly supportive in terms of gifts and things for Scott and financial support. That is also a reflection on the sort of people they are, that friends would come along and be that generous, and so that's helped.
CHRISTINE RUSH: Lee and I have been members of many groups, professional and sporting groups, and we've been very fortunate. The community has really rallied around us, and we're very, very humbled. (Emotionally) It's very difficult to be a taker, not a giver. (Sobs) And it's very difficult...to acknowledge...our pride and independence is taken away. Ourselves and other parents of the people detained at the airport have made a significant effort to stay together as a group...for emotional support, also advice on what's happening. And we, of course, will be working very, very hard on the international prisoner exchange treaty. We've written to the Australian Government. There are times, of course, when we feel very, very cross with Scott for getting himself into this situation, putting us in this situation, bringing shame to everyone. And of course, you know, being the prodigal son, we want him back. The thought of Scott being here for potentially the rest of his life is very distressing. It's like ongoing grief, a sense of loss that's ongoing.
LEE RUSH: Scott, currently, when we go to visit him, is the young son, young man that we always thought he would become - loving, caring, happy, talkative... willing to greet with a hug and a kiss. He's talking about futuristic ideas, improving his education, how he could become involved in business.
SCOTT RUSH: I feel like I've destroyed everything for my parents. But I love them very much and I appreciate everything they done, and hopefully, hopefully someday I will return it to them.
CHRISTINE RUSH: There are chances for rehabilitation. There are...chances that his sentence could be reduced. So there are opportunities that hopefully will come his way, and he will seize these opportunities to make something of his life.