Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Keating's Indonesia trip an embarrassment to Australia: Hill



Download PDFDownload PDF

16 *

MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR ROBERT HILL LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Friday, April 24 34/92

KEATIHC'S TMDOWESTA TRIP A W RMRARRASSHKliT TO AIISTPAT.Ta» HTT.T.

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affaire, Senator Robert Hill, today said the Prime Minister's visit to Indonesia had been an embarrassment to Australia.

"In his recent attacks on Britain, Paul Keating has damaged existing bilateral relations in an effort to build new ones in the Asia-Pacific region," · Senator Hill said.

"In Jakarta, he deliberately denigrated and apologised for his own country - its past, its culture and its flag - in the

mistaken belief that this would win the friendship and respect of Indonesia.

"The Prime Minister should have shown pride in his nation, stressed Australia's assets and strengths, and told Indonesia of the great potential for trade and investment between the two countries.

"He should have focused on Australian potential to provide goods and services to Indonesia, the potential for joint ventures particularly in the manufacturing and resource sectors, and the new opportunities created by Indonesia's expanding economy and rising standard of living.

"Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are primarily interested in Australia for the benefits they can derive from us.

"So Australia's real and substantial integration in the region will depend on our economic competitiveness, not on misguided attempts to build friendships through self-flagellation.

"Another example of Mr Keating's naive and clumsy diplomatic approach was his proposal for a regional summit.

"President Suharto basically rejected the plan - but in a polite and diplomatic way.

"The President's handling of the proposal was a lesson in regional diplomacy for Mr Keating.

"If Mr Keating wanted the proposal to succeed, he should have understood the sensitivity in the region about such a plan and recognised the need to first sell it to ASEAN through proper diplomatic channels.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

/ 2

"it is crass for Mr Keating to think he can effectively spring the proposal on the region and expect an answer from Indonesia during a visit.

"Mr Keating's handling of the issue of human rights was awkward.

"Australia does not need to feel embarrassed by the values we hold in relation to supporting basic human rights.

"These same values are entrenched in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"We have a perfect right and responsibility as a member of the international community to protest about human rights abuses which breach the standards the international community has set for itself.

"Mr Keating has got off to a very inauspicious start in his quest for statesmanship.

"The Asia-Pacific region must feel bemused by the Prime Minister's new definition of diplomacy.

"His visit to Indonesia was clearly designed to address his domestic political agenda and did little to promote

Australia's interests abroad.

"Mr Keating's decision to apologise for Australia's past while overseas is an extension of this domestic agenda - to divide Australia rather than build 'One Nation'.

"The Prime Minister's visit to Indonesia was an embarrassment to Australia."

(ends)

Enquiries* Senator Hill or Mark Batistich on (08) 237 7920