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Indonesia voices concerns about Coalition's boats policy 'loud and clear'


Ellen Connolly, New York

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Coalition denies rift with Indonesia

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Parliamentary Secretary Josh Frydenberg defend the government's asylum policy despite criticism from Indonesia

PT0M0S 620 349

Could it have been a case of lost in translation when Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop met with her Indonesian counterpart Dr Marty Natalegawa in New York on Monday – or simply falling on deaf ears?

As far as Ms Bishop is concerned her meeting earlier this week with Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Minister to discuss the Coalition's controversial asylum-seeker policy was "very cordial", "positive and very productive".

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop meets with her Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, in New York on ...

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop meets with her Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, in New York on Monday.

Yet Dr Natalegawa clearly saw – and heard - it differently, and said he warned the Australian minister against implementing the policy, which he strongly rejects.

Fairfax Media has previously confirmed that the Coalition's plans to turn around asylum boats was unpopular with the Indonesian government.

"We have reiterated that Indonesia cannot accept any Australian policy that would, in nature, violate Indonesia's sovereignty," Dr Natalegawa told Indonesia news agency Antara News following the New York meeting.

''I think, the message has been conveyed loud and clear and has been understood well," Dr Natalegawa added.

But the message it seems was not heard by Ms Bishop who told Australian media 24 hours after the meeting in New York that they were in agreement to put an end to people smuggling.

"I put to Foreign Minister Natalegawa that Australia will be making changes to the laws in Australia so that we take away the product that the people smugglers are currently selling and that is permanent residency in Australia."

Asked on three occasions to respond to reports that Dr Natalegawa warned Australia not to introduce such a policy, Ms Bishop refused to answer, instead she repeatedly described the meeting as "positive and productive".

"I'm not going into the operational details of our policy but I had a very broad ranging discussion with Mr Natalegawa and I'm confident we will be able to implement our policies."

Asked to respond to media reports he was not happy with the outcome of the meeting, Ms Bishop said: "There can be some misunderstanding as to what our policy is and it is certainly not to in any way show disrespect for Indonesian sovereignty and for anyone to think that that was our policy that would be a mistake.

"Our policy respects Indonesia's sovereignty, respects Indonesia's territorial borders, just as Indonesia respects ours."

She denied there was any tension between the two at the meeting.

"We spoke very warmly. We know each other well."

She said the discussions would need to continue when she travels to Jakarta later this month with Prime Minister Tony Abbott who will also hold talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

During her second day in New York for the United Nations Leaders' Week, Ms Bishop attended the General Debate of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly where President Barack Obama spoke strongly on Syria's chemical weapons policy.

She also met with her counterparts from France and Russia.

Ms Bishop said she attended a "delightful" function hosted by President Obama and the First Lady.

"I had my photograph taken with them," she beamed.

"He was very warm. He congratulated me, and spoke in very affectionate terms about Australia.

"President Obama said he looked forward to Tony Abbott visiting the United States and I'll certainly pass that back to the Prime Minister."


  • Bogan slogans are easier than real public policy it seems.

    Date and time
    September 25, 2013, 8:26AM
    • No surprises here. It will only get worse.

      SeveH's Mum
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 8:45AM
    • Yep, I can't see the boats stopping any time soon, and certainly not under Abbott's useless government. Telling everyone that you can "Stop the Boats" and doing it are two completely different things. Perhaps if you cover it up, the bogans will still vote for them, because whatever is out of sight is out of mind.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 8:55AM
    • Ms Bishop already appears to be out of her depth in this portfolio.

      Greg Hunt has a Masters of Arts in International Relations from Yale where he was a Fulbright Scholar, Greg also worked as a Senior Advisor to the then Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer but Greg is the Minister for the Environment in Tony's new cabinet.

      Merit based appointments, the right person for the right job, sure thing Tony.

      Get Ms Bishop out of this portfolio before she does some real damage.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:04AM
    • See, Tom, that is the beauty of harping on about non-issues like the Coalition has on asylum seekers; saves you having to actually make policy afterwards! Just stop talking about it and it will all magically vanish into thin air;

      Just like university places for disadvantaged students;
      Just like tax dollars going to maternity leave mums on $150k;
      Just like penalty rates for workers;
      Just like Australia's once-egalitarian soul...

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:05AM
    • So Indonesia thinks it violates Indonesia's sovereignty & Bishop believes they should just suck it up. She must have rocks in her head if she thinks Indonesia will accept our returns.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:12AM
    • Unfortunately for much of the Liberal Party's new low rent political heartland, Indonesia is just some place to get blind drunk for a week.

      Nice beaches, the kids are cute, etc

      Remember when the Liberal Party stood for prudent economic management, market based solutions and a strong commitment to civil and political rights?.

      Now they give us a "Great Leap Forward" Stalanist approach to climate change, a media blackout on boat arrivals and anyone with a science degree is suspected as some kind of commie. It like a Bogan Khmer Rouge..

      mint slice
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:25AM
    • Robo you nailed it. It's already funny watching these clowns squirm as they deal with the reality of complex issues. Prepare for more censorship.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:34AM
    • "Bogan" was Gillard saying she was going to effectively implement detention centers in East Timor on public TV befor speaking to the Timorise ambasador or primeminister. It's going to be hard for the Liberals to beat that level of idiocy and certainly Bishop is to savy for that. As far as Indonesia goes, they are a big part of the problem and are essentially complicit in passing the problem on to Australia so its no suprise they are being intractable.

      Dont expect either of the "Laboral" coalition to come up with the tough but fair solution the Australian public wants.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:37AM
    • And so it begins... Easier to throw shit from the opposition than to sit at the table and work through real issues....

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 9:47AM

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