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Federal Labor welcomes government's Indonesia package: joint media release.

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Senator Chris Evans Acting Federal Labor Leader Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Social Security

Kevin Rudd M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security

7 January 2005

Federal Labor Welcomes Government’s Indonesia Package

Federal Labor welcomes the announcement of the Government’s new five-year aid package for Indonesia.

Labor has provided bipartisan support for the actions taken by the Government so far in its response to the humanitarian disaster brought about by the Tsunami ten day ago.

Today’s announcement of a one billion-dollar package over five years (comprised of 50 per cent grants and 50 per cent interest-free loans) represents a strong and positive step in Australia playing a central role in Indonesia’s reconstruction.

Labor believes Mr Howard should also use his participation in the Jakarta Summit to leverage contributions from other donor countries so that the long-term reconstruction task in Indonesia can be met.

Prior to the election, Labor argued for the establishment of an Indonesia Education Partnership aimed at rebuilding the mainstream education system (in partnership with the Indonesian Government) following the devastation of that system in the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis.

This was not only useful in terms of Indonesia’s long-term economic development needs, it was also important in the broader battle for hearts and minds within Indonesia in the long-term war against terrorism.

Given the Indonesian education system in Sumatra and Aceh has now been devastated as a result of the Tsunami, a major opportunity now exists for Australia, together with other donor countries, to partner Indonesia in the long-term reconstruction of the country’s economic and social infrastructure.

The Government has indicated it will provide a full briefing to Federal Labor on the detailed components of the funding package later today. Labor will reserve further comment on the overall package until that briefing has been conducted.

Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823 Michael Boyle 0408 666 178