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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11675

Ms JULIE BISHOP (2:51 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether he sought to have a formal bilateral meeting with the Indonesian President at the APEC summit last weekend to discuss the Oceanic Viking and people-smuggling? If not, why not?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —My dealings with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia are in first-class working order right across the spread of the bilateral relationship, including on border security matters—and I will come back to the question of our meetings at the recent APEC gathering. Can I say to the member for Curtin that, notwithstanding the opposition’s preoccupation with this individual vessel—which some would say is a legitimate preoccupation—we are, with the Indonesians, on a rolling basis engaged in a series of interruptions of people-smuggling activities. In fact, together with other countries in the region, in the last 12 months we have engaged in some 90 interruptions of such activities.

In the course of the APEC meeting the President of Indonesia and I discussed a range of things, including his visit to Australia which will occur at either the end of this year or early next year—we are working on dates, and it is currently likely to be in February. Can I suggest to those opposite that as a further mark of respect for the Indonesian President—and I have had some early consultations with the Presiding Officers about this—and given that he was recently elected as the democratically elected President of his country, when he visits it would be good if he were extended the honour of addressing the Australian parliament. We think that is entirely appropriate, as it would be the first time he has done so.

On the question of the APEC meetings and the discussions with the President of Indonesia—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister shall resume his seat.

Mr Pyne —You’re wriggling on the hook!

The SPEAKER —I am not sure whether the Manager of Opposition Business is trying to bait me, but he will sit there quietly. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.

Ms Julie Bishop —Mr Speaker, I asked whether the Prime Minister had sought a formal bilateral meeting at APEC. If not, why not?

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister is responding to the question.

Mr RUDD —At the APEC meeting, I was aware of the fact that I would be seeing the President of Indonesia informally on a number of occasions. In total, there were about five occasions. We discussed everything from border protection to asylum seekers, the individual vessel in question, the President’s visit to Australia, his possible address to the parliament as well as world peace.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The House will come to order! I am not sure whether world peace goes to pacifying the House, but if President Yudhoyono wants to help me I will take his help.