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Tuesday, 18 November 1986
Page: 2370

Senator McINTOSH —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the recent decision of the Indonesian Government not to renew a visa for the Australian Financial Review correspondent in Jakarta, Michael Byrnes. Has the Government sought or received from the Indonesian Government an explanation for the decision? Did the Government assist in any way the attempts of the Australian Financial Review to have the visa renewed? If not, will it consider doing so?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government regrets the Indonesian Government's decision not to renew Mr Byrnes's visa past its expiry date of 23 November. Over recent months the Government has taken up with the Indonesians the question of the renewal of Mr Byrnes's visa. We are disappointed that this decision will now leave no Australian correspondents resident in Indonesia. More generally, the Government is disappointed at the decision of the Indonesian Government to deny entry visas to Australian journalists. The Government has indicated to the Indonesian Government on a number of occasions its support for the free flow of information between Australia and Indonesia. Access to Indonesia by Australian journalists is obviously integral to this end. Most recently, the Foreign Minister, Mr Hayden, made this point to the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr Mochtar, during the Association of South East Nations post-ministerial conference discussions in Manila in June. The Government's support for the principle of Press freedom is unequivocal and is well known internationally.