Senate debates

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Statements

Sigley, Mr Alek

2:33 pm

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, I know this is unusual in the course of question time, but I seek leave to make a very brief statement to the Senate.

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you very much, Mr President. Following from the Prime Minister's comments in the House of Representatives, I am very pleased to advise the Senate that young Australian Mr Alek Sigley has today been released from detention in North Korea. He is safe and he is well. Swedish authorities advised the Australian government that they met with senior officials from the DPRK yesterday and raised the issue of Alek's disappearance on Australia's behalf. Earlier this morning we were advised that the DPRK had released Alek from detention. He has now safely left the country.

On behalf of the Australian government, may I express our deepest gratitude to Swedish authorities for their prompt and invaluable assistance in securing Alek's prompt release. The outcome does demonstrate the value of careful, behind-the-scenes, discreet work of officials in resolving complex and sensitive consular cases such as this, in close partnership with other governments. I won't be making further comment on this matter, out of respect for Alek's privacy and that of his family, but I can say that his father has been advised, he is enormously relieved and grateful, and the family have asked that we convey their thanks to everyone who has helped and expressed support for them over the past several days. I thank the Senate.

2:35 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—On behalf of the opposition, I welcome this announcement. I share in the foreign minister's thanks to the Swedish authorities for their invaluable work in securing Mr Sigley's release. I also acknowledge all Australian officers, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for their work. I thank the minister for her cooperation. The approach the opposition takes on these sensitive consular matters, as you will have seen from public statements, is a bipartisan and cooperative approach. We're very pleased for Mr Sigley and his family that this matter has been resolved satisfactorily.