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Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilkinson and Tanya Plibersek: Today Show [channel Nine]: 21 November 2013: Australia's relationship with Indonesia



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THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP Minister for Education Leader of the House

TRANSCRIPT

E&OE TRANSCRIPT Today Show interview with Lisa Wilkinson and Tanya Plibersek 21 November 2013

SUBJECTS: Indonesia.

LISA WILKINSON:

Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek join me now from Canberra. Good morning to both of you.

TANYA PLIBERSEK:

Hi Lisa.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Good morning Lisa, Tanya.

LISA WILKINSON:

Christopher Pyne I'll start with you. The Government issuing that travel warning means you're obviously deeply concerned about ramifications from these tensions?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regularly updates its travel advisory on the net for potential Australian tourists travelling overseas and businessmen and women etc, it's perfectly sensible given the tensions that are running in Indonesia for Australians to be cautious when they travel there.

LISA WILKINSON:

So you wouldn't be surprised if there are ramifications?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

This has been a very serious period for our Australian-Indonesian relations, I'm very confident that they will recover and that they will recover very strongly because it's an Australia and Indonesia's national interests for us to have a very close relationship. Even the Foreign Minister in Indonesia Mr Natalegawa indicated that we are like family and that's because of our geographic proximity and our shared interests. We're also two very strong democracies and in the Asia Pacific region we have many interests in common and I'm sure that our relationship will recover very strongly.

LISA WILKINSON:

Tanya Plibersek, that recovery is not obvious at the moment, the Indonesian President is demanding an apology and has made it clear he won't back down on this. Should Mr Abbott apologise even though this spying happened in 2009 on your watch?

TANYA PLIBERSEK:

Well Lisa, you know that we never comment on operational security matters. But when it comes to managing the diplomatic fallout or the relationship between our two nations, it's very important that we don't let any difficulties between us fester. The Government's got a lot of advice that they can call on, they've got our diplomats in Indonesia, they've got the Department of Foreign Affairs here and Indonesian specialists to talk to, about the best way forward, but it is important that we find a way forward. Christopher is quite right in saying that Indonesia is one of our most important neighbours, we've got trade issues with them, we've got security cooperation with Indonesia, and it's very important that normal relations are restored as relations are restored as quickly as possible.

LISA WILKINSON:

Can you see that happening easily?

TANYA PLIBERSEK:

Well, look I think it's going to take a little work. There were a few mis-steps from this Government from day one when it Government from day one when it comes to the relationship with comes to the relationship with Indonesia, the announcement of the turn back the boats and buy back the boats policies before the Government was elected were very troubling for the Indonesians, they didn't like the fact that people in Australia were making plans for what would happen on Indonesian soil and in Indonesian waters without talking to the Indonesians so the relationship was under strain, and this is kind of pushed it a little bit further along that strained path. But I'm confident that we can get back to normal and it's very important that we don't let the problems between us fester.

LISA WILKINSON:

Christopher Pyne would you agree there was a strain even before these spying situations emerged?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well no I wouldn't, Lisa. In fact, the Indonesians have moved very quickly to restore close relations with the new Australian Government and their demonstrated that by enormously increasing our quota of live cattle exports from Australia to Indonesia that the previous Government had bought to a shuddering halt on the basis of one television program. I'm a bit confused about the Opposition's position on this issue. On the one hand, they are saying that they support everything that the Government does, to try and repair the relationship with Indonesia that's occurred because of these incidents in recent days, on the other hand they're still trying to play politics with foreign policy. The Coalition thinks that national security should be above partisan politics and we will do everything in our power, use every means to continue to protect our borders and to continue to have a good foreign policy relationship with Indonesia. I would welcome the Opposition genuinely supporting that in a bipartisan way. Sometimes the Opposition Leader says that's what he's doing, other times he says he uses words that are clearly designed to be partisan and it's surprising and disappointing.

LISA WILKINSON:

How many other countries is Australia spying on at the moment?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well Lisa, I'm sure you understand that we couldn't possibly comment on operational matters or intelligence matters, national security matters of that kind are highly classified and not an appropriate thing for me to comment on.

LISA WILKINSON:

Okay, Tanya, I'll give you the last word.

TANYA PLIBERSEK:

Well I think Christopher is right in saying that we never comment on these operational intelligence matters. But he's quite wrong in saying that the relationship with Indonesia was not under stress beforehand and we heard comments from the Indonesian Foreign Minister and we saw the reception to the Government's turn back the boats/buy back the boats, the fact that the Prime Minister locked out Indonesian journalists out of a press conference in Indonesia, all of this meant that when the relationship got into trouble, the goodwill that has previously existed between our two nations has stretched much thinner. It is important now that we restore that goodwill because this is an important relationship economically and in a security sense for Australia.

LISA WILKINSON:

Okay, Tanya Plibersek and Christopher Pyne. We thank you very much for your time this morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Thank you Lisa.

Ends

Mr Pyne’s media contact: 0407 691 050, pynemedia@education.gov.au

Department media: media@deewr.gov.au