Widodo Inauguration: Abbott Stresses Jakarta Focus In Foreign Policy

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flown to Indonesia to attend the inauguration of its new President, Joko Widodo.

In his weekly video message, Abbott repeated his earlier remarks that “our foreign policy needs a ‘Jakarta’ focus rather than a ‘Geneva’ one”.

He said one million Australians visit Indonesia each year. “It has the world’s largest Muslim population, it is the world’s third largest democracy and, along with India, it’s the emerging democratic superpower of Asia.”

  • Watch Abbott’s video message (3m)
  • Listen to Abbott (3m)

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Transcript of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s weekly video message.

Today I am going to Indonesia for the Inauguration of its new President – Joko Widodo.

The transition to a new administration highlights Indonesia’s successful move to a popularly elected democracy. [Read more...]

Indonesia Demands Spying Explanation, Suspends Co-operation; Abbott To Respond; Shorten Invokes ‘Team Australia’

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has suspended intelligence exchanges and military co-operation with Australia and demanded Tony Abbott explain the tapping of his and his wife’s mobile phones.


The suspension of military co-operation includes the sharing of information for anti-people smuggling operations as well as joint military exercises of any kind.

“Facing the common problem of people smuggling, Indonesia and Australia have coordinated operations, coordinated patrolling in the sea area – I have asked for this to be suspended until everything is clear,” President Yudhoyono said.

Yudhoyono will write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott tonight demanding an explanation of the tapping carried out by the Defence Signals Directorate in 2009. He has called for new and binding protocols before the relationship can be restored. “I will officially send a letter to the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, to obtain his response and then we will see what we can do in the future.”


Yudhoyono said it was difficult for him to understand why the phone tapping took place. “Now is not the era of the cold war.”

Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten both made short statements to the House of Representatives just after 7pm tonight. Abbott said he would respond promptly to Yudhoyono. Shorten said the Opposition supported the government in what is a “Team Australia” moment.

  • Listen to Abbott and Shorten in Parliament tonight (4m)

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Text of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s remarks.

I know Indonesians are upset and angry about what Australia has done to Indonesia. But in international relations, in dealing with certain situations, we cannot be emotional, we must remain rational.

Our reactions will determine the future of the relationship and friendship between Indonesia and Australia which actually have been going well.

The relationship between the two governments has been going well. When disasters occurred in Indonesia, Australia responded swiftly with assistance.

I find it personally hard to comprehend why the tapping was done. We are not in a cold war era. Indonesia and Australia aren’t in the position of being against each other or fighting.

What’s the direction of this intelligence? Why was the friend and partner – not the enemy – tapped?

This problem is serious.

It’s in violation of international law and regulations, human rights and the right to privacy.

It’s also related to morality and ethics as neighbours, partners and friends, and maintaining good relations between two countries.

For a president like me, in regards to state secrets, I can’t talk about them over the phone anyway. I will call the ministers to see me and talk to them directly.

I don’t understand why it had to happen. Why Australia did it to Indonesia.

I am expecting an official statement and stance from the Australian government.

We really want an explanation. We also want to know what measures Australia is going to take on the tapping issue.

And if Australia wants to maintain good relations with Indonesia.

Tonight I will send an official letter to Tony Abbott.

There are three things Indonesia is going to do:

1. Over the next few days Indonesia will wait for an explanation and admission from Australia.

2. Because of the tapping, some co-operation agendas are being reviewed.

At the moment we are holding off the following co-operations:

– information sharing and intelligence exchange. It will be held off.

– joint military training for the army, navy and air force is to be held off.

– co-ordinated military operations targeting people smuggling. This overwhelming issue for Indonesia and Australia will be held off. We can’t possibly continue with it when we’re not sure that there isn’t tapping on Indonesia’s national forces.

3. In all future co-operations, Indonesia requests a code of conduct and guidance principles that are binding and clear in nature.

I hope – and I’m sure Australia shares the same hope – that our good relationship will continue after this problem is resolved.

I know Australia respects Indonesia sovereignty, which is the most important basis for co-operation.

The Indonesian and Australian governments have a duty and obligation to resolve this problem.

Text taken from translation published by The Guardian.

Hansard transcript of statement to the House by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A short time ago President Yudhoyono made a statement in Jakarta. I have to say that I was encouraged by the president’s remarks about the strength of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia although obviously there are very serious issues which do need to be worked through in the near future between us. [Read more...]

Abbott Statement On Indonesian Intelligence Operations; Regrets But Does Not Apologise

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a statement to the House of Representatives on Indonesia and intelligence operations.


Abbott’s remarks follow yesterday’s revelations of Australian phone-tapping of Indonesian officials, including President Yudhoyono and his wife. The Indonesian Ambassador to Australia was withdrawn late yesterday.

“I sincerely regret any embarrassment that recent media reports have caused [President Yudhoyono],” Abbott told the House. “It is in everyones’s interests – Indonesia’s no less than Australia’s – that cool heads prevail and that our relationship grows closer, not more distant.”

However, Abbott said “the first duty of every government is to protect the country and to advance its national interests”. He said Australia should not be expected to apologise “for the steps we take to protect our country now or in the past”.

Abbott said: “Importantly, in Australia’s case, we use all our resources, including information, to help our friends and allies, not to harm them.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten responded to Abbott and called on him to apologise to President Yudhoyono.

  • Listen to Abbott’s statement – transcript below (4m)

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  • Listen to Shorten’s response – transcript below (4m)

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Statement on indulgence to the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

In the past 24 hours there have been calls for Australia to detail our intelligence operations and to apologise for them.

Madam Speaker, the first duty of every government is to protect the country and to advance its national interests. [Read more...]

Indonesia Refuses To Accept Turned Back Boat; Asylum Seekers Taken To Christmas Island

The Australian government has confirmed that Indonesia has refused to accept a boat Australian authorities attempted to turn back just south of Java.

According to a statement from Operation Sovereign Borders, Indonesia is “reviewing the request put forward by Australia”.

The boat was rescued 43 nautical miles south of the coast of Java, within the Indonesian search and rescue zone. A request was made to transfer the passengers to Indonesia. The statement says: “On two recent occasions, Indonesia has agreed to these requests and facilitated an on water transfer.”

The vessel’s passengers have now been taken to Christmas Island and will eventually be taken to Nauru or Manus Island.

The Opposition says the government’s asylum policies are in disarray and it is in retreat from its “turn back the boats” policy. The government statement says the number of “illegal arrivals” is down 75% since Operation Sovereign Borders began.

Morrison Quizzed About Stand-Off With Indonesia Over Asylum Seeker Boat

The Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, faced a series of questions today about an asylum-seeker boat thought to be involved in a dispute with the Indonesian government that threatens the Abbott government’s ‘turn back the boats’ policy.

Morrison appeared at the weekly Operation Sovereign Borders briefing. He was accompanied by Lt. General Angus Campbell. Both men were terse in their response to some questions during a willing encounter with journalists.


It is understood that Indonesia has refused to accept a boat turned back by Australian authorities. The boat was rescued just south of Java and within the Indonesian search and rescue zone.

Morrison and Campbell repeatedly refused to discuss “operational matters” in relation to the distressed vessel.

The dispute over the boat comes after a week of tense relations between Indonesia and Australia over allegations of spying by the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.


  • Listen to Morrison and Campbell (39m)

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Official transcript of Operation Sovereign Borders press briefing by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Lt. General Angus Campbell.

Scott Morrison: Well, welcome to our eighth weekly briefing on Operation Sovereign Borders. As usual, I will ask Commander Campbell to update you on key activity during the past reporting period and I will begin, as usual, with some opening remarks. [Read more...]