Media Doorstop - 11th Bali Democracy Forum

  • Transcript, E&OE

Minister Payne: Thank you very much and fabulous to be here in Bali and inIndonesia for the 11th Bali Democracy Forum and to have been invitedto address the Forum and participate on the panel about democracy andprosperity this morning. It was a very valuable opportunity for Australia andalso a good chance for me to catch up with a number of counterparts in theregion including Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. We have been much admiring ofthe Bali Democracy Forum. Not a lot of these activities sustain themselves overthe long term. This is the eleventh year of the BDF and I think that's anenormous credit to Indonesia, to the Indonesian Government, and to ForeignMinister Marsudi's personal passion at this point in time, so very pleased tobe here.

We discussed a number of issues as well in our bilateraldiscussion today. Obviously the Indo-Pacific concept which is so important toPresident Widodo and the ASEAN centrality which is at the heart of that.Australia strongly encourages Indonesia in the work that they are doing in thatregard. We have also had some time to talk about the humanitarian work of AHAaround the Rakhine State and whether Australia can support that and we will bedoing that. I have also expressed to the Foreign Minister our sincerecondolences in regard to the terrible attack in Papua and the deaths that haveresulted from that, both to her and to the government and to the families ofthose people, and of course reinforced the importance of a strong investigationinto that attack.

I'm very happy to answer any questions either about the BaliDemocracy Forum or otherwise.

Journalist: What did you tell the minister today in relation to theMiddle East review and was there any discussion of the timing for the signingof the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement?

Minister Payne: As Foreign Minister Marsudi said we did briefly discuss the processof review and the timing that the Prime Minister has committed to in relationto that, which is an outcome in this month, and that was the extent of ourdiscussion and I wouldn't necessarily go into any further detail about privatediscussions anyhow.

Journalist: On IA-CEPA, it was said the other day by the CoordinatingMinister for Maritime Affairs Luhut that he anticipated the signing of thedocument by the end of this year, is that your understanding and did you agreeor pencil in a date with Ms Marsudi today?

Minister Payne: We haven't put a timeline on that. As I said yesterday inthe Senate chamber, it will be signed when it's ready.

Journalist: So you wouldn't even commit to by the end of this year?

Minister Payne: We haven't put a timeline on it.

Journalist: Did she indicate that she was waiting for the end of theyear before a timeline be put on it?

Minister Payne: There was no discussion of that nature.

Journalist: Did you give her any assurances at all about Australia'simpending decision on what Australia will do with its embassy in Israel,whether it will be moved to Jerusalem?

Minister Payne: As I said, we discussed the process of the review and thetimeline and I'm not going to go into any further discussions, but we werefocused on a very brief discussion about the process and the timeline.

Journalist: How would you characterise the meeting today?

Minister Payne: Extremely warm and extremely positive. We have a lot ofimportant work to do together, some of which I have already mentioned. We areboth very concerned about the challenge that we face in our region from whathas occurred in Myanmar, particularly in relation to what has occurred inRakhine State, so that is a matter of interest to us both. And we are alsoboth, as the Foreign Minister referred to in her press remarks, we are bothvery interested in the participation of women in the democratic process, in thepolitical process, and that is something on which we continue to work together.

Journalist: Just on Myanmar, Minister if I may ask, we've seen a coupleof boats have arrived in the last few months from Myanmar and from Bangladeshcontaining Rohingya refugees coming to Malaysia and indeed coming to Indonesia.Did both you express concern about that and did you perhaps talk about a jointframework for Australia and Indonesia to tackle that?

Minister Payne: Our focus today was very much on the challenge that havingsignificant numbers of displaced people presents, on the challenge that presentsin security terms and most importantly in humanitarian terms. Australia hasmade a contribution of humanitarian support to the people who are currently atCox's Bazaar in Bangladesh, and I think it is important in this conversation toacknowledge the Bangladeshi government's efforts in supporting those manyhundreds of thousands of people. That is our focus, the humanitarian aspect ofit, and we'll continue to work together on that. Minister Marsudi has taken aleading role. She is acutely aware of this humanitarian challenge, knowing thatIndonesia also takes up its role on the Security Council in January, this is amatter which I think she is very sensitive to.

Journalist: So what sort of support can we give and I don't know whatthe AHA Centre actually is.

Minister Payne: It's a humanitarian centre in Jakarta that Australia isinterested in working with Indonesia on, to support. It is going to do a needsassessment around Rakhine and come back to ASEAN members in regards to the sortof effort that needs to be directed, that will provide us with safe, durable,sustained opportunities to return for those who would seek to do so.

Journalist: Okay, so we're going to help with the returns process of theRohingya?

Minister Payne: No, I said we're going to support the AHA, it's an ASEANinitiative, but Australia can provide some small amount of support and we willbe doing that.

Journalist: Are you talking about financial support?

Minister Payne: We haven't finalised that yet but it may be people who haveexperience in that sort of work, it may be in other ways.

Journalist: Is Australia doing anything to help Hakeem Al-Araibi who'sfacing deporting to Bahrain?

Minister Payne: We are very concerned about the position of Mr Al-Araibi, wehave made and continue to make strong diplomatic representations in relation tohis position. He has been visited by our officials in Thailand and we aregrateful to the Thai authorities for the support that they are providing to himand we hope that we can see a swift decision that will ensure his futuresafety.

Journalist: The red notice for his arrest, as I understand it, has beenwithdrawn. Why is he still in Thailand?

Minister Payne: Well, I'm sure there are legal processes that are stillunderway. We are seeking advice from the Thai authorities as to his status andwe will continue to do that.

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