Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (14:37): My question is to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Justice. In August 2013 and in January 2014 Chile's Supreme Court issued extradition orders for Adriana Rivas, who has lived in Sydney on and off since 1978 and last arrived after fleeing Chile in 2010. Ms Rivas has been charged with crimes against humanity, including torture, kidnapping and murder, arising from her alleged activity as a torturer with the Pinochet regime. Eighteen months later, it is not clear what, if any, action has been taken by the government. Can the Attorney-General please advise the Senate what actions have been taken towards Ms Rivas's extradition?
Senator BRANDIS (Queensland-Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:38): Thank you very much, Senator Wright, for that question and thank you for the advanced notice you were good enough to give to my office. But, Senator Wright, I have to tell you that it is the longstanding practice of Australian governments not to comment publicly on extradition matters, including whether the Australian government has either made or received an extradition request, until a person is arrested or brought before a court pursuant to a request. You will understand I think, Senator Wright, that the purpose of that practice is to avoid giving a person who may be the subject of an extradition request the opportunity to flee and avoid arrest. So I am not in a position to respond to your question, Senator Wright.
Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (14:39): Thank you, Attorney. Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that this is clearly on the public record-there have been newspaper articles and an SBS television report on it-there are serious concerns that Ms Rivas could flee Australia while the government drags its feet in relation to her extradition. Acknowledging the weight of allegations being made against Ms Rivas, involving eight victims, one of whom was a pregnant woman, why hasn't the Australian government acted to provisionally arrest her while it investigates the case?
Senator BRANDIS (Queensland-Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:39): I am aware of the press reporting around this case. But I think you will understand, Senator Wright, that the practice of Australian governments of both political persuasions not to comment on extradition matters is a practice which has to be applied uniformly, and it is going to be applied consistently with pre-existing practice on this occasions.
Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (14:40): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given that the matter is on the public record and the government has sat on the extradition request from Chile for 18 months and has failed consistently to give any information to members of the Chilean community in Australia, who are understandably concerned, my question is: why is the government so opposed to transparency in this matter?
Senator BRANDIS (Queensland-Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (14:40): The government is not opposed to transparency, but there are reasons that Australian governments do not comment on pending extradition requests. I have just explained those matters to you, Senator Wright, and I am afraid that there is nothing more that I can add.