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Australia and Indonesia reaffirmed their close ties today. President Yudhoyono told Parliament the
way the two countries had worked together in the aftermath of the Bali bombing and the tsunami had
forged a strong friendship, but one that needs to be nurtured to build more trust.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: By any measure the speech by Indonesian president Yudhoyono to the
Australian Parliament today was remarkable - frank to the point of bluntness, the sort of speech
only a close friend could make.

President Yudhoyono - the first Indonesian president to address the joint sitting of Australia's
Parliament - singled out East Timor's bid for independence in 1999 as the low point of the
bilateral relationship, and noted periods of deep mistrust between the two countries.

But he said the way Indonesia and Australia had worked together after the Bali bombing and the
tsunami had forged a strong friendship, but one, he said, that needs to be nurtured to build more

The visit may have distracted the political parties here from the daily battle, but not for long;
no less than five of the Prime Minister's generals strode into Parliament's Blue Room to train
heavy artillery onto Tony Abbott and crucial bills that are held up in the Senate.

Political Editor Chris Uhlmann.

(Edgy music plays)

CHRIS UHLMANN, POLITICAL EDITOR: Five ministers came bearing one message.

JENNY MACKLIN, FAMILIES MINISTER: Today, Tony Abbott is threatening Australia's first paid parental
leave scheme.

NICOLA ROXON, HEALTH MINISTER: Yesterday, the private health insurance rebate - the last piece -
three pieces of legislation was rejected by the Senate.

SENATOR PENNY WONG, CLIMATE CHANGE MINISTER: And they have consistently used their numbers to
either delay or oppose action on Climate Change in the Senate.

SENATOR STEPHEN CONROY, COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: The Opposition are now wilfully and deliberately
blocking measures designed to enhance competition and consumer protections in the
telecommunications sector.

LINDSAY TANNER, FINANCE MINISTER: Tony Abbott's vandalism in the Senate is a threat to Australia's
economic recovery.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Government is determined to brand Tony Abbott as a nay saying wrecker.

STEPHEN CONROY, COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: Tony Abbott and the liberal party have delivered the most
obstructionist Senate in 30 years. Last year, Tony Abbott and the Liberal party, blocked 14 bills -
four times as many bills as any Senate in the last 30 years.

CHRIS UHLMANN: It should be noted that that figuring includes a package of nine climate change
bills rejected twice, but the recent rate of rejection is high by historic standards.

And by his own admission, the Coalition leader even frightens small children.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: Come on, come to the big scary man.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Now his decision to roughly sketch out a 26-week paid parental leave plan has put
pressure on Kevin Rudd to match it in the Senate.

The Government is proposing 18 weeks at the minimum wage.

SENATOR BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: We want to see the Government improve its legislation. We would
like to see the Government move up to 26 weeks parental leave.

SENATOR NICK XENOPHON, INDEPENDENT: I'd to think that the Government can do better but I don't
think we should abandon the Government's scheme.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But Kevin Rudd says that's the choice.

KEVIN RUDD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: If Mr Abbott blocks the Government's paid parental leave
scheme in the Senate, he'll be punishing young families just to make a political point.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Coalition has 37 votes in the Senate and 38 are needed to block Government
initiatives, so everything that's been knocked back so far has also been opposed by some
combination of the cross-benchers.

The Greens agree that the Opposition has been a problem but believe the Prime Minister hasn't taken
the Senate seriously.

BOB BROWNE: The Prime Minister's got a roll there to be working with the senate as well and from
where I sit, the Government itself's got to be a little less obstructionist.

CHRIS UHLMANN: It's a view shared by Independent Nick Xenophon.

NICK XENOPHON: The Prime Minister needs to choose whether he wants to legislate or to dictate.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And the Coalition is keen to remind Labor of its record.

SENATOR NICK MINCHIN, OPPOSITION ENERGY SPOKESMAN: We have not been nearly as obstructionist or
oppositionist as the Labor Party was during the Howard years.

They voted against everything at every opportunity.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Of course, in the final years of the Howard Government, it controlled both chambers
but all political memories are selective.

The domestic brawling was briefly suspended today as the Indonesian President was honoured by an
address to both houses of Parliament.

President Yudhoyono is only the sixth head of a foreign government to address a joint sitting. His
speech celebrated a friendship that began with Ben Chifley's support for Indonesia's independence

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, INDONESIAN PRESIDENT: That was one of the finest hours of our relation
and we have had many more high points since.

CHRIS UHLMANN: He noted the highs but didn't shirk from raising past shadows.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: There were moments when we felt as if our worlds were just too far apart.
During the East Timor crisis in the late 1990s, our relation hit an all-time low.

CHRIS UHLMANN: He gently reminded his hosts that Indonesians wouldn't brook any more interventions.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: The success of peace and reconciliation in Aceh and Papua is not trivial
but a matter of national survival for us Indonesians. We would like Australia to understand and
appreciate that.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The president wants to lift the level of trade, see speed bumps ahead as closer ties
bring more complex problems and warns the close relationship between the governments isn't shared
by their peoples.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: The first challenge is to bring a change in each other's mindsets.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And on a day when the 21st asylum-seeker boat to be intercepted this year arrived
carrying 46 passengers, there were some welcome news for the Australian Government. The president
confirmed that he would make people smuggling a crime.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: Those found guilty will be sent to prison for up to five years.


CHRIS UHLMANN: The two leaders signed an agreement on people smuggling. The details are secret but
it will mean even closer ties between police and more intelligence-sharing.

In addition, there'll be annual meetings between the countries' leaders and the Foreign Affairs and
Defence Ministers.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: I am sure that this new arrangement will further cement
Indonesia-Australia relations and enhance trust between us.

CHRIS UHLMANN: In their private talks, the Prime Minister said he would support any call by the
Bali Nine for clemency from the death penalty. He also raised the killing of five journalists in
Balibo in 1975 and a prisoner transfer agreement that would benefit Chapelle Corby.

KEVIN RUDD: Mr President, we are neighbours by circumstance but we are friends because we have
chosen to be friends.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Tony Abbott couldn't resist taking a few swipes at Kevin Rudd.

Tony Abbott: People smuggling has started again and we can stop it again provided it's done
cooperatively and with a clear understanding of our mutual interests and with the right policies in
place here in Australia.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And Indonesia's Foreign Minister took aim at Tony Abbott's pledge to turn back
asylum-seeker boats.

MARTY NATALEGAWA, INDONESIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Going to this kind of approach of simply pushing
back the boats where they have come from would be a backwards step. It would not be a useful step.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But the last words should go to the president, who imagined what a future observer
might say of the relationship.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: And they will say, "These two used to be worlds apart but they now have a
Fair Dinkums partnership".

(Loud applause)

KERRY O'BRIEN: Political Editor Chris Uhlmann.