The political dimension of the Schapelle Corby case was evident, even prior to the wide scale involvement of the Australian media, whose reporting has had an increasing influence on the case itself.
The systemic abuses of Schapelle Corby's legal and human rights at the Bali trial, quickly elevated the case to one of international importance. This increased as the Indonesian judiciary dismissed any pretense of rational examination, or even acceptance into the course, of central and primary evidence.
The high profile reporting of such a tenuous drug case soon began to have an effect upon the, already tense, relationship between Australia and Indonesia. Further, bearing in mind that Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, and has the world's largest population of Muslims, Australia's geographic proximity made the relationship strategic to the west as a whole.
This was exacerbated further by the potential threat to Australian investments within Indonesia, a market which was also viewed as strategic by the Australian establishment. Total Australian investment in Indonesia had reached A$2.6 billion by the end of December 2005, with annual bilateral trade worth about A$10.4 billion.
Thus, given the strategic importance of this relationship to Australia, and the political imperative of maintaining it, the pressure upon Australian politicians, created by the case, was intense.
However, this was not the only political pressure in play.
In 2004, just three years post 9-11, airport security was a high profile matter, not only with the domestic public, but internationally. Australia's airport security was woefully lacking. This was evident not only through whistleblowers, who were generally marginalized, but through a number of official reports and documents. The Australian government had failed to act on these, or at the very least, had failed to act sufficiently. In 2004, it is absolutely clear that the security at Sydney, and other Australian airports, remained severely and dangerously compromised.
For the Australian government, the Schapelle Corby case raised the prospect that this situation could be reported across the world. The threat that other nations might realize the risks posed to their own security, via these exposures, was stark and real. Without question, the consequences of this would have been damaging to Australia, and of course, politically damaging to the government itself.
Had Schapelle Corby returned to Australia as an innocent woman, or been perceived to be innocent, focus would, inevitably, have turned towards the airports. From the Australian government's perspective, this scenario had to be avoided if at all possible.
In addition, over a number of years, many reports had documented systemic corruption within Australian police agencies, particularly in Sydney. Whistleblower after whistleblower had spoken out, only to be ignored, or worse. As with airport insecurity, nothing of substance had been done to address this. It had, in effect, been brushed under the carpet.
The political situation with respect to Schapelle Corby was exacerbated by the demonstrable fact that AFP corruption actually extended to drug syndication, and worse still, drug syndication through both Sydney airports. So, not only were the airports wholly lacking from a security perspective, but police officers, including senior officers, were involved in the smuggling of drugs through them.
This situation increased political pressure even further.
Accordingly, two broad axes of interest emerged within Australia’s Howard administration: the Howard/Downer interest, and the Ellison/Keelty interest. The former’s prime concern related to the stability of the relationship with Indonesia, whilst that of the latter related to the impact of domestic institutional corruption
Weighed against these considerations, was the welfare of a single citizen.
From an exclusively political viewpoint, the balance of interests driving decision making could hardly have been more one sided.
The cold reality, as demonstrated by The Expendable Project reports, is that, from the moment this complex political equation became apparent, a political imperative drove the actions of the government, and subsequently its organs of state.
The Australian government, directly, and through its departments and agencies, acted against Schapelle Corby's interests with increasing vigour. The degree of orchestration of government departments was unprecedented.
In 2005, a 27 year old Australian woman, Schapelle Corby, landed in Bali for a holiday, only to find 4.2 kg of Marijuana in her bag upon collection. A nightmare began which is scarcely believable.
But her nightmare didn’t end in Indonesia, with a show trial, and the repeated abuses of her human rights. It only began there.
Whilst Schapelle Corby deteriorated in a squalid cell, her own government clinically managed the political fallout of these shocking events, at her terrible expense.
For the first time this film exposes the reality of what has previously been hidden from the public. It exposes a government prepared to systematically crush one of its own citizens, to hide its own domestic criminality and to maintain international political stability.
The introduction explains the broad background, describing the political perspective with respect to international relations, and the pressing need for the government to hide the true scale of criminality at Australian airports. It was these political perspectives which led the Australian government to abandon Schapelle Corby, and then, subsequently, to deploy its own institutions and agencies against her, within its prescribed policy.
Further, it explains the broad process of policy implementation, and how departments of state exist to apply the policies defined by central government.