Tanya Plibersek makes passionate plea for Bali Nine pair after her husband got a second chance

The deputy leader of Labor has made an impassioned plea for the lives of the Bali Nine ringleaders by highlighting the case of her husband who was jailed for drug dealing but given a second chance.

Tanya Plibersek’s husband Michael Coutts-Trotter was 21 when he was convicted of conspiracy to import drugs in 1986 and he served three years of a nine-year prison sentence.

Fairfax reports that the father-of-three has turned his life around and is now Secretary of the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who are from Sydney, are set to face the firing squad this month after they were convicted of heroin trafficking in Indonesia in 2006.

Australia says executing Bali Nine pair will be 'grave injustice'. Photo: 7News
Australia says executing Bali Nine pair will be 'grave injustice'. Photo: 7News

Despite several appeals for their lives Indonesia authorities say they are set to go ahead with the executions despite mounting international pressure.

Ms Plibersek, Opposition foreign affairs spokesman, told Paliament on Thursday: “'In 1988, my husband left prison after being charged and convicted of a similar crime to these young men.

“I imagine what would have happened if he had been caught in Thailand instead of in Australia where that crime was committed, where he was coming back to Australia.

“I think about – I didn't know him at the time, this is 30 years ago – what would the world have missed out on?

“They would have missed out on the three beautiful children we have had together.

“They would have missed out on a man who spent the rest of his life making amends for the crime that he committed.”

Australia also stepped up pressure on Indonesia Thursday to spare the lives of two drug smugglers facing the firing squad, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warning their execution would be a grave injustice.

Chan and Sukumaran, the Australian ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin drug smuggling gang, were arrested in 2005 and sentenced to death the following year.

The pair recently lost their final appeals to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for clemency despite arguing that they had rehabilitated themselves in prison. They could face the firing squad this month.

In an emotional speech in parliament, Bishop pleaded for their lives.

"This motion goes to the heart of what we believe will be a grave injustice against two Australian citizens facing execution in Indonesia," she said, adding that the pair made "shocking mistakes" but deserved another chance.

"We are not understating the gravity of the nature of these crimes.

"Without doubt, Andrew and Myuran need to pay for their crimes with lengthy jail sentences but they should not need to pay with their lives."

Indonesian authorities have already informed Canberra they intend to proceed with the executions, despite public appeals from Bishop and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Lawyers for the men on Wednesday lodged a rare legal challenge to the president's decision to reject their appeals for clemency, taking the unusual step of challenging Widodo's decision to refuse them a pardon.

Indonesian authorities have repeatedly said the appeal for presidential clemency is a death row convict's final chance to avoid the firing squad, but the men's lawyers believe the latest move could at least delay the executions.

"Our shared hope is the Indonesian government and its people will show mercy to Andrew and Myuran," said Bishop.

"Both men are deeply, sincerely remorseful for their actions. Both men have made extraordinary efforts to rehabilitate. Andrew and Myuran are the model of what penal systems the world over long to achieve."

Widodo has been a vocal supporter of capital punishment and warned Indonesia is facing a drugs emergency, with addictions and deaths on the rise.

The men's lawyers claim it is "unacceptable" for the president to use blanket arguments to refuse clemency.

Indonesia last month executed six drug offenders, including five from other countries.