Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Tony Abbott MP

Joint Press Statement, Jakarta

Monday, 30 September 2013

Jakarta, Indonesia

Prime Minister

30 September 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MP

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT WITH

HIS EXCELLENCY DR SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA,

ISTANA NEGARA, JAKARTA

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

Thank you so much Bapak President. This has been a marvelous dialogue today, a very warm dialogue, a constructive one and I feel very honoured to have been treated so generously by you, by your ministerial team and by the people of Indonesia.

As you know Bapak President, this is my first visit to Indonesia as Prime Minister. This is, in fact, my first overseas trip as Prime Minister and I am grateful to you Bapak President for allowing me to keep a promise to make my first overseas trip as Prime Minister to Indonesia.

I should say on behalf of the people of Australia, how much in awe we are of Indonesia's achievements over the last six decades. Indonesia has done so much and it has done so much, so well.

Indonesia has built a strong sense of nationhood in a vast and diverse archipelago. Indonesia has successfully managed the transition from military rule to a robust democracy and Indonesia is now in the process of taking millions and millions of people from the third world to the middle class.

This is a historic transformation with the potential to change our world for the better.

We did hold wide-ranging discussions on a large number of subjects. I absolutely agree with you, Bapak President, that we need to do so much more to build our economic partnership.

We have made some mistakes in the past. Let us make a new start, particularly in the area of agriculture and food security. Never again should this country take action which jeopardises the food supply of such a friend and partner as Indonesia is.

The fact that there is a very strong and very high level delegation of business leaders travelling with me to Indonesia, as part of this visit, testifies to the desire of the Australian people to build a much stronger, much more broadly based and much more dynamic economic relationship, based on greater trade and investment in the years to come.

We also discussed further developing our people-to-people links with, for instance, the creation of a new Australia Indonesia Studies Centre at Monash University to parallel the Australia-United States Studies Centre and the Australia-China Studies Centre at other universities in our country.

I am enthusiastic, as you know, about the new Colombo Plan which won't just see the best and the brightest of our region coming to Australia, but will henceforth see Australia's best and brightest travelling to the region.

Yes, we have much to teach our region, but our region, particularly Indonesia, has so much to teach us and if Australia is to fully participate in the Asian Century, we need the Asia literacy that this two way street Colombo Plan will give us in the years and decades ahead.

And yes, Bapak President, we had a very frank discussion about issues of sovereignty and about issues of people smuggling. These discussions were candid, constructive and collegial. People smuggling is an issue of sovereignty, especially for Australia. I appreciate how seriously Indonesia has taken this issue in the past and I look forward to working even more cooperatively with Indonesia on this issue in the future. But I do want to stress publicly, as well as privately Bapak President, Australia's total respect for Indonesia's sovereignty, total respect for Indonesia's territorial integrity and I say to you, Bapak President and to the people of Indonesia that the Government of Australia takes a very dim view, a very dim view indeed, of anyone seeking to use our country as a platform for grand standing against Indonesia. We will do everything that we possibly can to discourage this and to prevent this.

I admire and respect what you and your government have done to improve the autonomy and the life of the people of West Papua and I am confident that they can have the best possible life and the best possible future as a part of an indissoluble Indonesia, as an integral part of Indonesia.

As I said Bapak President, we had very cordial, constructive and collegial discussions on the issue of people smuggling. Much of the detail will be left to further discussions between the Coordinating Security Minister of Indonesia and the Border Protection Minister of Australia, but we are resolved together, united to tackle this problem and to beat it on land and at sea, and at the borders of our countries. We are determined to end this scourge, which is not just an affront to our two countries, but which has so often become a humanitarian disaster in the seas between our two countries.

Bapak President, I am confident that the future is bright for both our two countries and I am confident that Australia has a significant role to play as Indonesia advances to be one of the world's strongest economies and to be one of the world's leaders.

I know that Indonesia's future is bright. I know that in the years to come, Indonesia will loom economically larger compared to Australia, but for many years to come, we will have so much to offer Indonesia in a spirit of partnership, in a spirit of friendship and I am determined that we will play our part to ensure that in the decades ahead, Indonesia does indeed emerge as one of the leaders of a better world.

Bapak President, the best days of this relationship are ahead of us and they will be better days, thanks to your friendship for Australia and for your success as an Indonesian statesman on the global stage.

Thank you so much for today's talks.

[ends]