Joint Doorstop with Indonesian Education Minister Anies Basweda

  • Transcript, E&OE

MINISTER BASWEDAN I was just explaining to them why we have this program and we would like our children to learn of each other through games. It's a fun learning and we hope this game will strengthen our friendship between the two countries.

MINISTER BISHOP Thank you, I'm absolutely delighted to be here with Minister Baswedan after his visit to Canberra recently where I know he visited one of our primary schools. So to come here this morning for the launch of this exciting and innovative program symbolises the depth and breadth of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. This is my seventh visit as the Foreign Minister of Australia and there have been many high level visits between our two countries in recent months and years.

Our Prime Minister Mr Turnbull visited here and had a very successful meeting with President Jokowi. We have had our Trade Minister visiting Indonesia and Indonesia's Trade Minister visiting Australia.

There is a very broad and deep connection between our two countries, but we have to ensure that the coming generations of young Australians and young Indonesians understand each other, understand each other's countries. Through this game, 'Next Door Land' the students would have a greater curiosity about each other's countries, learn about our landscapes, our history, our traditions, our people, our sporting cultures and hopefully that will mean that they will want to visit each other's countries.

We already have a very strong connection through education, there are about 17,000 Indonesian students studying in Australia and the Australian Government has instituted a student exchange called the New Colombo Plan and it is proving to see Indonesia as the most popular destination for Australian university students to study overseas. So through these student exchanges we will see a deep and enduring partnership, not only in trade and investment, defence and security, between governments, between our business communities, but also at a people-to-people level.

So I'm very delighted to be here. Thank you for the welcome.

JOURNALIST Could we ask Ms Bishop, because there is a major political development at home, could we just get you to comment on that [inaudible].

MINISTER BISHOP I certainly support the decision of the Prime Minister. The Governor General is recalling the Parliament for the week of the 18th of April, and this will give the Senate the opportunity to support the economic reform program of the Government. We saw last week what games the Senate will play, we are now giving the Senate an opportunity to pass some of the most fundamental economic reforms we've seen in a while.

The building and construction sector is absolutely fundamental to our international competitiveness, our economic growth and more jobs. We need this legislation to pass the Senate. This gives the Senate the opportunity to do so.

JOURNALIST On Indonesia, Ms Bishop, your counterpart is very keen on Australia taking more refugees to unfreeze what is obviously a big problem in Indonesia, they've got more than 13,000 asylum seekers and refugees here. Will you do that? Will you order an unfreezing of that number?

MINISTER BISHOP I'm yet to meet with Retno Marsudi and we will discuss a whole range of issues. We are both co-hosting the Bali Process Ministerial meeting in Bali on Wednesday and I expect that Retno Marsudi will ask all countries who are involved in the Bali Process to assist in finding a regional solution. I don't believe it's just Australia, I believe that all countries will be asked. Australia already takes a significant number of people under the Refugee and Humanitarian visa and we've also committed to taking thousands of Syrian refugees. We have taken people from Indonesia prior to the 2014 freeze and we need to continue to do that. But this is a matter for all countries to resolve and I'm looking forward to very productive and fruitful discussions at the Bali Process on Wednesday.

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