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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6514

Indonesia-Australia Leaders Meeting

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (14:16): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the third annual Indonesia-Australia Leaders Meeting next month?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:16): I thank the member for Werriwa for his question because it enables me to advise the House about the arrangements that have been made for the third annual Indonesia-Australia Leaders Meeting. I will visit Indonesia at the invitation of President Yudhoyono next month to attend this third annual leaders-level dialogue. Of course Indonesia is a close friend, a neighbour and one of our most important bilateral partners. Our relationship with Indonesia is both broad and very deep. We share in common so many interests. We have worked patiently and methodically to build the bonds between our two countries, stronger economic links, and we are working now on greater economic cooperation through the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership and people-to-people links—that is, young people in particular from Indonesia coming to Australia, studying here, and Australians going there. Australians certainly go in huge numbers to Indonesia, the most visited country other than New Zealand for Australians. We share not only strong bilateral relationships, doing things like fighting transnational crime, including people-smuggling; we share regional priorities and global priorities.

With my visit it will be almost 130 times that there have been high-level visits and exchanges between our two countries under this government. That is equivalent to a visit almost every three weeks. We have a lot to talk about and a lot to work on. The comprehensive nature of this partnership does need to be recognised by anyone who wants to play a role in shaping this nation's future, which is why I was dismayed to see today that the Leader of the Opposition apparently does not understand that I have visited Indonesia before and that I have met with President Yudhoyono before. Of course I have met with him before. We have conducted a number of leader-level discussions. We have attended many multilateral fora together, including the East Asia Summit, the G20 and APEC; we have been at the UN together. We have worked comprehensively on the relationship between our two countries. I am very much looking forward to taking the next steps in that broad and deep relationship when I visit Indonesia at the request of the President, at his invitation, next month.