Joint Doorstop with Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs General (Ret) Luhut Pandjaitan

  • Transcript, E&OE

MINISTER BISHOP: I've just had a very positive and constructive meeting with Minister Luhut and discussed a whole range of issues including the IORA Leaders' Summit that will be held tomorrow; the fact that the Indian Ocean rim countries have come together to support a statement on countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism; and we spoke about a whole range of areas of cooperation between Australia and Indonesia. So even though we only saw each other a few months ago, I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to meet again and discuss areas where we can work more closely together.

We also discussed the new US administration; the approach to countering terrorism in Syria and Iraq and the impact that that will have on countries in our region. So Minister, thank you very much for your time again today.

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: Thank you. Our discussions went very well and we consider Minister Bishop a very good friend. Like the Minister explained, we discussed a range of areas of interest, we talked about Montara; about Papua; about economic opportunities; and also about the potential for terrorism; and other issues. Many areas of interest were discussed and I think we are of the same understanding about common threats and common problems in the future.

JOURNALIST: Minister Luhut, could you clarify. Is Indonesia interested in joint patrols with Australia in the South China Sea as the President has previously indicated, or is that something that will just never happen?

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: Well, I think in terms of economic activities in the South China Sea, of course we can do this with any country. Especially as Australia is a very important country for us, we can do many things. I don't know if it's necessary for us to do joint patrols, but certainly in relation to economic activities we can do a lot. Not only that, tourism activities in Natuna Island can also be done together with Australia; as well as mining exploration with Australia. A lot of things.

MINISTER BISHOP: My understanding, again from the President and the discussions in Australia, he was talking about coordinating our efforts on freedom of navigation, freedom of over-flight, so there was unimpeded trade. It was a question of coordination, not joint exercises as we would understand it.

JOURNALIST: Is that also your understanding Pak Luhut, of the discussions? That it was not about joint patrols?

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: We don't see that yet to that level, but I think as Minister Bishop explained, we can engage in many activities there, especially economic activities.

JOURNALIST: Pak Luhut, you mentioned mining. Is the recent divestment policy part of a broader push towards nationalisation?

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: Well, we are very open to any foreign direct investment in Indonesia. We don't have any policy in that direction.

JOURNALIST: Why are you pushing it so hard? The 51% divestment.

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: Well, after nearly 50 years, I think it's about time for the people of Indonesia to see the possibility.

JOURNALIST: Pak Luhut, did you ask the Australian Government to help resolve the Montara oil spill?

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: Yes, I discussed it with Minister Bishop. Minister Bishop is a good friend of Indonesia, and Australia, as a very good partner, could do something to help the people of that part of Eastern Indonesia. Especially in the Montara area.

JOURNALIST: Minister Bishop, we understand of course that the dispute is with a company, but is there anything that you think the Australian Government can do to assist with this?

MINISTER BISHOP: We had a discussion about the matter and our embassy here is continuing to work with Indonesian authorities in relation to it, but it will be a matter before the courts and so there is a limit to what I can add to it. We most certainly had a very open and frank discussion about the matter and we will continue to work closely with Indonesian authorities to the extent that we can.

JOURNALIST: What did you discuss in relation to Papua?

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: Well I was Coordinating Minister for Security Affairs, so being a good friend with Minister Bishop, we discussed also that openness of Papua. For us, we approach the Papua issue from an anthropological perspective. We would love other countries to visit Papua to have a look at what's really going on. Minister Bishop also has a plan to visit Papua and is more than happy to do so. I think she has a plan with Ibu Retno to do so. Minister Bishop, if I'm not mistaken, September?

MINISTER BISHOP: Sometime later this year, I hope to come back to Jakarta for a whole range of issues, including the opening of our new Consulate-General in Surabaya, and there hopefully will be an opportunity for me to visit Papua at that time.

JOURNALIST: Was there any discussion on Freeport [inaudible]?

MINISTER PANDJAITAN: No, I didn't have a specific discussion with Minister Bishop on this, but I just explained to Minister Bishop the wishes of the people of Indonesia. We would like to see a win-win solution to the Freeport issue. We would like to see a business-to-business understanding, and I think we can do it. Nobody wants to play hard ball but of course we also appeal, after 50 years, I think we have to consider the wishes of the people of Indonesia regarding Freeport.

Media enquiries