Joint media conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa

Subjects: Bilateral relations, Bali process/people smuggling, Indonesian visa arrangements, Burma, Anwar Ibrahim, Japanese whaling

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

9 January 2012

Minister Natalegawa: (Speaking in Indonesian)

I would like to say a few words in English, if you don't mind Kevin.

I had shared with my colleagues, the colleagues from the media, that I have the singular honour of welcoming you this morning to Jakarta.

And I raised that this is for us for Indonesia the first Foreign Minister visit that I am welcoming as we begin the new year.

And I had informed the colleagues from the media, that we had just now discussed in a comprehensive way the state of our bilateral relations and the contours ahead in terms of 2012, the various meetings that we are planning and where opportunities are available to raise our economic, trade investment relations as well as people to people relations.

We have also discussed a number of specific issues that are of particular concern between our two countries.

Consular issues for example, people smuggling cooperation for example, as well as beyond bilateral issues, we have discussed regional issues.

I have thanked Minister Rudd for Australia's support to Indonesia, as Chair of ASEAN last year and I have informed him that tomorrow ASEAN Forum Ministers will be meeting in Cambodia and I had informed him about some of Indonesia's priorities within ASEAN next year.

Not least we have also shared some thoughts on the East Asia Summit. In particular how to move forward the Australia-Indonesia cooperation within the East Asia Summit on the management of natural disasters which the two countries initiated last year and not least we have also discussed our cooperation and collaboration at the global level.

Those are some of the issues that we have discussed I would now like to give the floor to the distinguished Foreign Minister of Australia, His Excellency Mr Kevin Rudd.

Minister Rudd: Terima kasih Pak Marty, selamat pagi.

It's always good to be in Jakarta.

I am pleased to be back at work with my good friend Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia's distinguished Foreign Minister. Pleased also to be the first official visitor here in Jakarta this year.

As Pak Marty said, it's important for this relationship that we meet regularly and whenever the opportunities arise.

We have our formal structures we have annual two plus two discussions with foreign ministers and defence ministers. They will occur in Australia in the first half of this year. We have agreed annual summits between the Prime Ministers. This is a good development in the relationship, but at an operational level Marty and I are on the phone to each other a lot. We are in regular communication and wherever we are around the world at common meetings we spend time with each other.

So I thank you very much for your hospitality in receiving me here today and tomorrow.

For Australia this is a core relationship, an absolutely core relationship.

It's important for trade. It's important for investment. It's important for jobs in both countries. It's important for counter-terrorism. It's important for dealing with problems of people smuggling. It's important also for dealing with the challenges of human trafficking.

It's important because we've got literally tens of thousands of students from Indonesia in Australian universities becoming the ambassadors in this relationship tomorrow. So for us we regard this as a core relationship; a good relationship; a strong relationship, and one which we use therefore together to enhance our respective interests in the region and also to build regional stability and prosperity.

Bilaterally I'll be meeting here in Indonesia of course with the Trade Minister also with the Agriculture Minister and also the Coordinating Minister on Security covering the range of operational engagements we have with each other. With the Trade Minister in particular in collaboration with my Australian colleague, Craig Emerson, we'll be discussing how we can further expand the economic relationship.

On other bilateral matters Pak Marty and I discussed our cooperation on counter- terrorism. And I would congratulate the Indonesian authorities for the success of what they've achieved in the last twelve months in some very difficult operations.

Secondly we've also discussed at some length continued cooperation in the area of people smuggling. I have thanked our friends in Indonesia and actions they've taken in the last year or so, on the criminalisation of people smuggling within the Indonesian statutes. Also thanked them for their continued collaboration, the vast between the law enforcement agencies.

I thank also the Minister for his confirmation that in terms of Indonesia's new visa arrangements with countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka that this in fact is not a visa-free arrangement. But this is an arrangement which will be handled by immigration officials and their respective agencies and the relevant agency here in Jakarta.

Secondly what we've agreed is to now embrace a program of joint cooperation on the question of document fraud and document identity which is important for the Australian system across the world and it's important for the Indonesian system across the world. And I look forward to that collaboration between us.

And the Minister himself informed me that these new arrangements that he has in place with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka of course is subject to review in the Indonesian system.

We've also looked at other areas of expanded institutional enhancement of the Bali Process and we're looking forward to further discussions on that as well.

On the bilateral front I also of course, with the agriculture minister, trade minister, will be discussing the current beef and cattle trade issues for Australia-Indonesia and I am looking forward to those discussions.

Furthermore on consular matters as Pak Marty indicated, we exchanged views on how we can enhance our cooperation there and reinforce our positions. And that I have raised in the past our concerns both with the Bali nine and others currently in Indonesian custody.

Indonesia of course has the opportunity to raise with us in the past concerns of minors in Australia and we've achieved I think very significant progress in ensuring the repatriation of minors who have been before the Australian legal system associated with people smuggling offences - 19 have been returned to Indonesia, 16 have been identified for return to Indonesia and our current advise is that three remain before the Australian courts.

Finally regionally we have worked closely together through the EAS process.

I congratulate again Pak Marty and President Yudhoyono for their excellent work in chairing what I think is the most successful East Asia Summit that has been.

For the first time we welcomed the United States into the regional family. This was a landmark change of regional diplomacy, having the United States and Russia at the table discussing for the first time security challenges for the future.

Our joint Australian-Indonesian initiative on counter disaster management across the region for when the next big one hits is really important practical stuff.

We have our officials working hard on how we enhance the immediate operationalisation of our emergency services and where relevant and necessary our armed forces, to deal with natural disasters when they arise at scale in the future.

I fear the day when the next big one hits and we are asked this question, are we better prepared as a region than we were last time. We've got to be able to answer those questions and it's high time all of our efforts right across the region are engaged directly to make sure we do better each time - that is a common challenge for us all.

I congratulate Indonesia through ASEAN's fine diplomacy on Burma. This has been good work by our friends in ASEAN, good work in particularly by Foreign Minister Natalegawa.

I was in Burma, I think I was the first Western Foreign Minister to visit after the elections twelve months ago, I was there in June last year, and our engagement with the Burmese government continues. We are continuing to enhance our bilateral cooperation with the government in Rangoon and the government in Napidaw. And we will look at further ways in which we can support the process of political change in that country.

At a very personal level twelve months on from the Queensland floods if I could thank Pak Marty and President Yudhoyono for their kind gift of a million dollars to assist with the Queensland flood.

My people and my community, my city of Brisbane this was gesture which was well received. And we thank very much the generosity of the Indonesian Government.

Minister Natalegawa: (Speaking in Indonesian)

Thanks very much Kevin, I understand we have opportunity for a couple of questions, but before we open the floor, I'd like to echo the sentiment that Kevin, Mr Rudd, had mentioned just now that in terms of natural disasters.

Very kind of you Mr Rudd for highlighting Indonesia's modest assistance, but it is simply reciprocating and responding to the equally generous and constant and literally all-weather support that the Australian government and public always render whenever Indonesia finds itself in a difficult condition resulting from natural disasters

Journalist: Questions to both of you which is in response to the news this morning Anwar Ibrahim has been acquitted by the court in Malaysia what does this tell us about the new Malaysia and what is your general response to it all?

Minister Rudd: I'm delighted, absolutely delighted by the outcome and I think it says something about the evolution of the Malaysian legal system.

I have met Anwar Ibrahim before and this is a good result for him and the process of political liberalisation that Prime Minister Najib has been leading for some years now. As the Prime Minister of Malaysia - I commend him and his government for that process of liberalisation - open discussion, open engagement on difficult and sensitive questions.

This a good decision by the Malaysian courts.

Minister Natalegawa: (speaking Indonesian)

Yes, this is simply an important result that we always see as an issue that the international community has been following very closely.

It is of course in essence a legal process and therefore should be treated and approached in that manner, but no doubt it is an important decision, an important result and we have every confidence that the Malaysian body politic will be able to move forward following this important decision.

Journalist :(Speaking in Indonesian)

Minister Natalegawa: (Speaking in Indonesian)

Just very simply Kevin what I have said - we have discussed in broad terms the issue of people smuggling and ways and means a country like Indonesia, essentially a transit country, as well as Australia, essentially a destination country, can work hand in hand through the Bali process in disrupting the flow of a smuggled person or the people and we have agreed just now to share information whether from Iran or elsewhere so we can intercept, disrupt and prevent the continuation of such activities.

Minister Rudd: As Pak Marty just said we discussed a good range of people smuggling cooperation in terms of source countries, in relation to all source countries, and therefore our cooperation extends across all those spheres as well as the utilisation not just in Indonesia but other countries as well, and that includes also countries such as Iran.

Our challenge for the future is a problem which faces countries all over the world and that is how you step by step make this harder and harder for people smugglers anywhere.

And therefore across the fabric of our cooperation between law enforcement agencies our security agencies as well as our judicial establishments our job is to make that task harder and harder.

No one underestimates the difficulty of this. It is a very demanding challenge, not just for the governments of Australia and Indonesia, but for governments around the world.

Journalist: Another question relating more to Australia - about the Australians who are being held on Japanese whaling vessel.. would you please comment on that?

Minister Rudd: First of all I understand that the Attorney General of Australia is currently speaking to Australian media about this question so I'd refer in particular to the comments the Attorney General will be making.

Secondly if I could simply reiterate the Australian position is that we have opposed always all forms of whaling. We do not believe that the whaling activities in which Japan is engaged is scientific whaling.

As a result of that, notwithstanding two years of diplomacy in 2008 and 2009, we have had no alternative but to take Japan to the International Court of Justice.

That's where the matter is being resolved at present.

On the specifically legal issues which arise in the current matter concerning the incident involving those individuals I draw your attention to the statement which is being made by the Attorney General of Australia.

Thanks very much.


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