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Transcript of question and answer session: Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta: Monday 11 August 2008

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Question and Answer Session at Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, Monday 11 August 2008

Question: (Department of International Relations, University of Bandung). What I want to ask about is the sustainability of policy of Australia to Indonesia. If you look (inaudible) John Howard replacing Prime Minister Keating, if I am not mistaken, there were several changes which are more or less unproductive to relations between Indonesia and Australia. How can you ensure that it will never happen again in the future? Because I think it’s quite difficult for us to maintain the good relationship with Australia if we have to face problems like this again. And the second is in the paper you have written the title is about a new partnership for a new era. I think that, please tell me if I’m wrong, the new era here it means the changing between the policy of John Howard’s administration to the Kevin Rudd administration. Thank you Sir.

Mr Smith: There are two very good questions. Could I start with the end. When I speak about a new partnership for a new era, I mean a new era for this century and a new era for this region. In the course of the first half dozen to eight years of this century, we have seen an inexorable shift of economic, strategic, political influence and power to our region, to the Asia Pacific - the rise of China, the rise of India but also under appreciated is the rise of the economic horsepower of the ASEAN states over the last 10 to 20 years. That’s the new era - an inexorable shift to where we live, the Asia-Pacific. And how do we as neighbours, as friends, and as nation states interested in what occurs in our region and in the world, deal with that challenge and opportunity. So that’s what I mean by the prospect of a new partnership in a new era.

Certainly, whilst it is the case that over the years, there have from time to time and even in quite recent times, been very serious difficulties with the Australia-Indonesia relationship. When you look at the sweep of history, our relationship has always been one where both nation states recognise the essential and critical importance of having a good relationship.

When I am in Indonesia and I am speaking with Indonesians, one thing that holds Australia in good stead is the work that we did to support Indonesian independence when it wasn’t necessarily fashionable to do so. And one of the things which Dr Wirajuda referred to today was his own memory of Dr Evatt’s actions in the Security Council, the actions of Australian trade unions in boycotting the Dutch. These were very significant things for Australia to do against the urging of significant friends and neighbours of Australia, including the United States, including the United Kingdom, and of course the Netherlands itself (inaudible).

I learnt a few things from my old boss Paul Keating. One of the things he said to me, and I never checked the map, but its almost certainly true, is that, Australia to Indonesia is closer than a plane flight from Melbourne to Sydney. We have to live with each other. We inherited from the Howard Government a relationship with Indonesia that was in very good order. I have no qualms about saying that. It wasn’t always the case. But when we came to office, we inherited a relationship that was in good order. I think we can take it to a new level. And what gives me that confidence and what gives me the confidence that your concern that we might not go through


cycles or difficulties again is this. First thing, we have the signing of the Lombok Treaty, or as Dr Wirajuda and I say, against our advisers’ advice, the Lombok-Perth Treaty, on the basis that we signed it in Perth and you can take the Foreign Minister out of Perth but you can’t take Perth out of the Foreign Minister.

But that was deeply significant, because for all time it reflected we understand each other’s sovereignty, we respect that. We understand each other’s independence and we won’t do anything to undermine that. That then enables us to put issues which in the past had caused us considerable difficulty into their proper perspective. Which is why I said in the course of my remarks, today, when we opened up the media, the Australian media was running stories about capital punishment and about Papua. And the Indonesian media was running stories about capital punishment and has been

running stories about Papua. In the past this would have been a crisis for a meeting between two Ministers, one from Indonesia one from Australia. Today these are simply things which we dealt with in the framework of our relationship. We took them in our stride. They are simply matters of business to be managed and attended to. None of those issues and no other issue we dealt with, could cause or have cause to strike at the fundamentals of the strength of our partnership and relationship.

So I think Lombok is significant, very significant. But I also think there is this. I think we have both learned, just putting Lombok to one side, as nation states governments, as people, that you can actually, take a different view about something and that not strike at the fundamental relationship. All of us have mothers and fathers, all of us have lived in communities, all of us have neighbours, you can actually have a differing view with your family, with your community, with your neighbour and that not strike at the fundamental basis or nature of that relationship. And that is why I am personally very pleased that our relationship, from inheriting a good relationship from the previous Australian Government, has already been taken in my view to a higher level. But there is so much more that we can do.

The partnership that we are doing, the Australia-Indonesia Partnership and the development assistance, the work that we are doing in the region working closely together in ASEAN related forums or in APEC, looking at the notion of a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Indonesia, supporting free trade agreements between Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN states - these are all things which will add to our social and economic and regional prosperity. That is why I am unambiguously optimistic about maintaining that for the future.

Question: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia. I have one question and I would like to welcome the theme of your speech Australia-Indonesia Relations - A new Era of Partnership. With that in mind, in your speech you mentioned that Australia will provide up to around $2.5 billion assistance to Indonesia to address poverty and I think this is something the Indonesian side of course warmly welcomes. But my question will be beyond bilateral relations. And as our bilateral relations are hopefully going to be on a much growing path. And I think it is also a question of strengthening our cooperation at the multilateral fora and this particular thing is when you talk about the assistance of the Australian Government in the area of addressing poverty to countries like Indonesia is something I think and other developing countries would also see it not merely at the bilateral level but also at the multilateral level. And this I think is an issue at the multilateral level when it comes to the follow


up of the Vienna Declaration of Program of Action resulting from the Human Rights World Conference 1995. Whereas there is one issue that has not yet come into realise which deals with the right to development. However, at multilateral fora we still see Australia and other Western countries still shy away from the issue of that obligation vis-à-vis international assistance towards other countries. So I think this is something I would like to see whether we can work together on that issue.

Mr Smith: Thanks very much for that. Central to Australia’s foreign policy or public policy approach is we want to be, as I would describe, a good international citizen. Australia is a prosperous, well-developed country. We have 21 million people so when you look at Australia in the pecking order of populations we are about country number 50 or 51. We are quite down the pecking order in population. When it comes to our economic capacity in terms of size of GDP, we are in the top 15. When it comes to our prosperity, income per capita, we are in the top 15. When it comes for example to the contribution we make to defence and peacekeeping spending we are in the top dozen. So Australia is a significant and considerable nation, prosperous and well-developed. The Australian spirit says we have an obligation therefore to do our bit to be a good international citizen, to help nation states who aren’t as well off as we are.

There are two ways we can help people. One is by our immediate humanitarian assistance. So if a country has difficulty with terrible adverse consequences of a tsunami, or a cyclone or an earthquake, then we render as best we can immediate humanitarian assistance, including to Burma. I won’t digress but we made a further contribution to Burma at the Singapore-ASEAN meeting largely because of the good work we thought ASEAN itself was doing. That is one way that we can be, what I describe, as a good international citizen.

The second way is by development assistance. Now the key to development assistance in my view is to build the capacity of the nation state to whom you are rendering development assistance. Which is why, so much of what we do is in partnership with Indonesia, and its not something that we impose. We do it in partnership in the capacity building arena. To build the education capacity of a nation’s people. To build the infrastructure of a nation. So that you build, by building the infrastructure, you build the nation, you build the economic productive capacity. These things lead to the best form of development assistance.

The best form of development assistance is economic growth. In the end, Australia would like to do itself out of a job of being a donor/development assistance nation where every nation state is able to stand on its own two feet, so that in the end the key in my view to development assistance is to try and build the capacity of individual nation states to in the end itself provide a prosperous economy, health and education services, opportunity to its own people. So it is in that context that Australia applies its development assistance policies and approach.

We are very strongly committed to trying to help individual nation states meet the Millennium Development Goals. And we support the development goals both bilaterally, on a regional basis and also in multilateral fora. And we think that historically we have tried to do our bit to reduce if not eradicate poverty when we find


it in our region. And I think I said in my remarks, a key part, if not the key part of our development assistance with Indonesia in my view is what we do in education.

We are a country of 21 million. Indonesia is a country of 225 million people. Australia has 2650 high schools for 21 million people. So imagine how many high schools Indonesia needs to have. We are helping to build, repair or expand 2000 high schools. That’s a significant program and we are trying to help build them in some of the poorest and remote areas to try and alleviate poverty directly in those least well off areas or those most remote areas. So education is very much a key, both basic education but also the Prime Minister and I have a very strong view that another way we can help is the application of scholarships to give a chance to young students, whether they are from Indonesia or other countries, to get a tertiary or university education and then to take that back to their own nations and add value or add benefit to their own nations. From Australia’s selfish perspective if you like, that of course means that they are Ambassadors for Australia for the rest of their lives. That in my view is the modern day application of perhaps the greatest foreign policy program that Australia has engaged in - the post World War II Colombo Plan where we did that for students in our region.

Question: Good afternoon Minister Stephen Smith. Yesterday I read in the Indonesian Kompas daily newspaper that according to the Indonesian fisherman who have been attacked by the Australian navy, that the Australian navy actually did not

recognise the map of the Indonesian sea territory. My question is, is it true? In other words that the Australian navy did not recognise the territory, particularly the sea territory of Indonesia. And my second one is did you discuss the matter of the fisherman and maritime boundaries between Indonesia and Australia between Ministers just a few hours ago. Because it is very important. Thank you.

Mr Smith: I don’t know the particular example that you are referring to. But I’ll come back to it. The maritime border arrangements between Australia and Indonesia are reflected by the 1997 Perth Treaty. I think that is one of the reasons why my officials don’t want me and Dr Wirajuda to refer to the Lombok-Perth Treaty for fear of confusion. But they are governed by the 1997 Perth Treaty. That remains on foot. It was not the subject of conversation today with Dr Wirajuda. In terms of the individual example that you refer to, I am not aware of the facts or circumstances, so I

can’t comment.

But I can comment on an earlier example where Australian maritime authorities seized a number of Indonesian fishing vessels, believing they were fishing illegally. As the facts transpired, they weren’t and three things occurred. Firstly, our Agriculture Minister stood up on the floor of the Parliament as soon as he was made aware of it, acknowledged the mistake, and apologised for it. Secondly, made that apology personally to his counterpart and that was relayed by Australian officials. And thirdly, having made a mistake, we immediately compensated the fishermen concerned.

So I don’t know about the facts of the one which you refer but where we do make a mistake, we acknowledge it, we regret it, and we compensate. And we don’t engage in surveillance or enforcement against illegal fishing because its of interest to us. Illegal fishing is one of the things which is having very deleterious and adverse effects in our


region generally, not just in South-East Asia, but also in the Pacific. And illegal fishing and maritime surveillance is one of the things we work very closely in cooperation with Indonesia and other nation states in our regions about. But we don’t want to turn a blind eye to illegal fishing because again, particularly in the Pacific for example, illegal fishing is most adverse for those nation states that are least, or are adversely affected worst by the pillaging of the fish stocks in their waters.

Question: Excellency, I appreciate the assistance of Australia to Indonesia, especially in the area of education matters. My question is whether the Australian Government would like to consider a kind of assistance to establish vocational training. Because there are many requirements for workforce in Australia for meeting the economic boom in Australia but Indonesia has difficulties to supply the workforce because of the high qualification of education. So if you have an idea to assist establish a kind of TAFE in Indonesia. Secondly, the question of general concern for Australia about bomb Bali because when I was in Perth there are many difficulties for people from Java and Bali to get visas because they have to arrange it all in Jakarta, but for Indonesian people living in different parts, we have to come to Denpasar and it is better for them to arrange it in Bali. Maybe you could consider to expand the new system of your consulate-general?

Mr Smith: Thank you very much. Firstly we’re very happy to consider technical and further education as part of the education work we do in partnership with Indonesia. Whether that might lead to the establishment of an institution in Indonesia on the

model of one of our TAFEs, time would tell. For example, one model which we utilise with some of our Pacific Island Forum neighbours and partners in the Pacific. But certainly further technical and vocational education as we sometimes describe it is something we’re very happy to have a conversation with our Indonesian partners about.

Secondly, so far as the consular arrangements are concerned, I think the practical difficulty just underlines the extent of the people to people exchanges that we have. Australia is now the single biggest destination for young Indonesian students studying abroad. We have very many Australians who come to Indonesia including and in particular to Bali who come to Indonesia on an ongoing basis. The Ambassador was telling me this morning about the now substantially increasing numbers of tourists returning to Bali and the absence of bombs does wonders for this, and we encourage it.

But when you get the growth in people to people exchanges often you have these practical difficulties. We’re happy to have a look at that but equally, as is always the case with any nation state, you can’t have a post everywhere. We can’t have a post that provides all of the services everywhere. But we’re aware because of the growth of the people to people exchanges, there are some people who are disadvantaged because of the lack of a post in a particular location or the lack of a facility in a post. We have at look at these on an ongoing basis and we’re happy to have a look at the one you have referred to.

Question (Bambang Harymurti - Editor, Tempo): My question is how legally binding is the Lombok agreement? For instance, is it still allowable or legal for


organisations to use Australian public funds to support organisations that support the independence of Papua.

Mr Smith: Well it’s a treaty between two nation states and its status is effectively that. That’s the first point. Secondly, the Lombok Treaty itself states that both nation states support the territorial sovereignty and the integrity of the other nation state. Neither nation state supports any activity which would go to separatism or succession

from that nation state. So, we don’t support anything which would lead to or support separatism or secession from the Indonesian nation state.

Having said that, like Indonesia, Australia is a diverse and pluralistic society. We respect people’s freedom of expression. If someone in Australian society wants to articulate a point of view, that’s a matter for them. That is not to say that the Australian government endorses that or does anything which is inconsistent with the treaty by supporting it. But in a country of 21 million people and a country of 225 million people, you always have diversity, plurality of views about a whole range of things. The importance of the Lombok Treaty is that neither nation state views any nation state support other than to respect and defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the individual nation state.

Question: (University in Bandung) Good afternoon Minister for Foreign Affairs. About partnership between Australia and Indonesia (inaudible) What is Australia’s decision about the war in Iraq? (Inaudible)

Mr Smith: I think there are a few decisions that the government made when it first came to office. Three were regarded by the Australian community as being the most significant. First was our commitment to ratify the Kyoto Treaty which we did in Indonesia, in Bali. One of the proudest moments of my life was to hand the Australian ratification documents to the Prime Minister who handed it to Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General, in Bali and that was warmly and greatly appreciated by the Australian community but also by the international community and by Indonesia.

Secondly, was the apology that the Australian Parliament gave to our indigenous communities where we apologised for the fact that our indigenous communities are much more seriously disadvantaged than any other aspect of Australian life. That I think was very warmly appreciated by the Australian population and community, especially by the indigenous community but by Australians generally. That decision was also very warmly received internationally.

The third decision which we implemented very quickly was our election commitment to withdraw our combat troops from Iraq and we did that in cooperation with the United States, United Kingdom and the Iraqi government. In the course of this year, we withdrew what was called our Overwatch Battlegroup from Iraq. I went to the United States in January and advised the United States administration of that. Recently I was in Iraq and when I was in Iraq my time in Iraq coincided with our withdrawal.

When I was in Iraq I announced on behalf of the Australian government a substantial increase in our development assistance and civil reconstruction to Iraq for the following rationale: whether it’s East Timor, whether it’s Afghanistan, whether it’s


the Solomon Islands, whether it’s Iraq. There is no point having peace and security for peace and security’s sake - you want to have an environment of peace and security to enable nation building to occur. And so whilst we have a strong

disagreement with our predecessor about the presence of Australian combat forces in Iraq, we have a very strong view that we have a role to play in building Iraqi capacity. So I announced a substantial civil contribution in education, in health care but also in law and justice in building the capacity of the Iraqi government and people to manage their own affairs - to give the Iraqi nation a chance to provide the sorts of services that well-developed prosperous nation states want to be able to deliver to their people. So we withdrew our combat troops from Iraq but we continue to have a very substantial, from memory it’s $120 million, substantial civil reconstruction programs which we propose to continue for a significant period of time.

Question: (University student). As you know, a few months ago, Kevin Rudd made an apology to the Aborigines. I would like to ask what is the main reason for Australia to make this apology to the Aborigines. Is there any pressure by the international community or to get sympathy from the international community? The second is what is the real (inaudible) of Australia’s engagement with Asia. Is there any real implementation and is there any result?

Mr Smith: There were two questions. One was about the apology which I have dealt with. Our rationale for that was when you look at all of the attributes of indigenous Australians, their education outcomes, their health outcomes, their life expectancy

outcomes, their employment outcomes - they are all massively inferior to non-indigenous Australians. On the other hand, the percentage of indigenous Australians in our prisons is massively of a higher proportion or percent than any other group of Australians. There was also a report which was done whilst we were in opposition by a former judge of the High Court Sir Ronald Wilson, which dealt with what became known as the Stolen Generation, where young indigenous men and women, children, boys and girls, were removed from their families on the notion that they could be provided with a better life having been removed from their families. And this did terrible damage to individual families and that was at the heart if you like of the policy.

What we now want to do having made that symbolic but very important gesture is to try now over a period of time to start to increase the practical outcomes in the lives of our indigenous people. Better educational outcomes, better health outcomes, better employment outcomes. That is a long-term job but it is a job that we are absolutely committed to doing. But its something that requires the nation to make a commitment to, not just a particular government or particular political party. So we want to see what we call bipartisan support and national support for long-term programs to improve those outcomes.

In terms of our engagement with the Asia Pacific, we came to office with three fundamental pillars to our foreign policy approach. One is our alliance with the United States which continues to be, as it has for about sixty years, an indispensable part of our strategic and security and defence arrangements. The second is our commitment to multilateralism through the United Nations through other multilateral forums. We want to see multilateralism take a central place again in the affairs of nation states. That’s not just because the party that I come from, the Labor Party, has


always been a supporter of the United Nations but because there are many challenges that we now find, challenges for Indonesia, challenges for Australia, are very much trans-national in their significance, where acting alone can be as equally futile as not acting - climate change, trans-national crime, people smuggling, food security . A whole range of the challenges that we see now, international global terrorism, can’t be defined in a traditional nation state.

The third pillar is our engagement with the Asia Pacific region. This is a long-held principle adhered to by my political party and it’s essentially quite straight forward. Australia is part of the Asia Pacific region and, particularly in this century, where as I articulated earlier we see a shift of economic and political and strategic influence to the Asia Pacific. It’s very important that we are a part of our own backyard, that we are engaged in South-East Asia, that we’re engaged in the South Pacific, that we’re engaged in the general Asia Pacific region. Which is one of the reasons why our Prime Minister has released the Asia Pacific Community initiative that seeks to start a dialogue, to start a constructive discussion about what we think the regional architecture in our back yard in the Asia Pacific should look like in the year 2020.

And that regional architecture may evolve from some of our current architecture - whether it’s ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit or APEC - or it may be the creation of a new body. These are natural things to contemplate. In ASEAN, for example, when ASEAN itself was created by half a dozen nations in the 1960s, no

one envisaged what we now see with the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit or even the dialogue partnership that we now have. Australia became ASEAN’s first dialogue partner in the mid 1970s, 1973-1974, so we’ve been a dialogue partner for 34, 35 years. No one envisaged when ASEAN was first created that all these things would occur. So we need in our view, given the shift of significance to our region, not just to have an intense engagement but also in a very corporate sense of where the regional architecture ends up.

There is not one piece of regional architecture at the moment where all of the players are in the same room at the same time able to speak both about economics, trade and investment but also about strategic and security matters. India for example is not in

APEC. The United States, for example, is not in the East Asia Summit. So this is in our view a natural conversation that we are at the beginning of and we think it’s a sensible conversation to have and that reflects our view of integration and involvement of activities in the Asia Pacific. In terms of multilateral engagement or UN engagement, that’s reflected by our candidature to the United Nations Security Council for temporary term 2013-2014.

Question: (inaudible). I am from Asia Pulp and Paper. I am representing the business community here. I would like to ask a couple of questions actually. You might know that APP is one of the largest pulp and paper producers in the world. And we are

putting significant business in Australia. However, I think lately, we are facing some problems where we have a series of boycotts from union leaders in Australia regarding our products. If you are aware, we are one of the suppliers of (inaudible)

products of one of the major retailers in Australia. And its been quite a big thing lately where we have been accused of producing environmentally-unfriendly product and at the same time there is an anti-dumping case filed against us that is still under investigation by the Australian Customs. So what I would like to know actually is


what it your opinion about this in terms of, we don’t feel this is the way to foster the relationship and trade between the two countries?

Question: Sabam Siagian, senior editor at the Jakarta Post. Your predecessor Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, in the early 90s initiated a series of Conferences on the Indian Ocean. I just wonder whether you intend to revive that interest, but perhaps in a more focused manner, meaning, looking at the possibility of increased strategic cooperation between the major states: Australia, Indonesia and India. Given the strategic shift in Asia now. And secondly I wonder whether you could present some statement on Timor Leste, given I think, that one place where the potential miscalculation could happen, you know in the bilateral relationship, as I notice the increased emotional

attachment of Canberra towards Timor Leste.

Question: (University Association). I just want to ask do the Australian business community, as you have mentioned before the importance of investment, believe in Indonesian bureaucrats regarding the economic relationship given the conditions where the Attorney’s office and central bank are in the spotlight for corruption in Indonesia?

Question: (Indonesia University). Regarding your paper, there is no mention about the Papua people. And actually the Papua issue between Indonesia and Australia keep going and going, but not maybe at (inaudible). I meet one of the group and they told me they have frequent meetings between Papuan people, people from Papua New Guinea and aborigines from Australia. I want to know especially from the Australian Government right now about that issue.

Mr Smith. Well the first question was about trade and anti dumping and I think the possibility of some trade union bans on goods. I am not aware of the particular product or the trade union aspects of it so I can’t comment on that. I would make the general point. Australia is a country that has got to a well-developed prosperous state by two things; by being an attractive place for overseas investment and also for being a great trading nation. We encourage overseas investment in Australia we also encourage trade between Australia and other individual nation states.

That’s one of the reasons we are very strong supporters of both bilateral, regional and multilateral trade liberalisation and trade reform, whether it’s a free trade agreement between two nation states, a regional free trade agreement like Australia-NZ-ASEAN or the Doha round. And we were deeply disappointed by the collapse in the recent Doha round talks. Yes we have anti dumping mechanisms. It is the mechanism that

we have and is entirely consistent with our WTO obligations and we continue to be one of the nation states that argue for trade liberalisation on a bilateral, regional and multilateral basis.

I might just with the second question which was also in terms of investment. One of the reasons we would like to see both an Australia New Zealand ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and also want to pursue the notion of a possible free trade agreement between Australia and Indonesia is that these arrangements have a focus not just on the goods and services side but also on the investment side. These days, just as in goods and services, there is a world-wide global competition for capital. So any nation has to bear upper most in its mind that if it wants to be an attractive place for


overseas capital investment to make sure that its investment regimes and its investments arrangements are internationally competitive both in terms of its government’s arrangement but also how it compares with other nation states. And one of the good things about pursuing the ASEAN free trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand and the ASEAN nation states is that it deals not just with goods and services but also with investment.

The question on the Indian Ocean. Yes not my immediate predecessor but my predecessor but one, Gareth Evans, was of the view that Australia needed to be much more in the Indian Ocean and in the sub-continental area. I strongly agree with this.

I said in other places that I think Australia has neglected its relationship with India and the sub-continent for over 30 years. One of the things that we recently did was at the beginning to enhance our relationship with India. Australia in my view needs to take our relationship with India to the front line of our international relationships. We had a very successful visit to Australia by Foreign Minister Mukhergee and a very successful bilateral between Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Rudd. And so we think that the potential is there to take that relationship to the next level to the front line of our international relationships.

In the last couple of weeks at our request, SAARC (the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) invited Australia to be a dialogue partner. This was at Australia’s request and we were invited, and I regard the invitation as being very significant. It gets Australia in the same room on a regular basis with leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Afghanistan. This is a

significant South Asian regional arrangement so far as Australia is concerned.

I would love to see Australia, India, Indonesia cooperation because as you recall just as I said it wasn’t always fashionable for nation states to be supporting Indonesian independence at the same time that Australia was supporting Indonesian

independence, so was India. So there is a historic symmetry in that respect.

So far as Papua is concerned, Papua was the subject of conversations between Dr Wirajuda and I today. Both because there were public reports that a small number, 2 or 3 Papuans, who had been given protection visas had raised with Indonesian

authorities in Australia the notion of returning home to Papua. And can I say that I was very appreciative that Indonesian officials in Australia alerted the Australian Government to this almost as soon as it occurred. It’s just another example of good nation state to nation state communication when there is an issue that might be of public or national interest.

If a small number or any number of Papuans who are currently in Australia on a protection visa wish to return to Papua or Indonesia that’s entirely a matter them. It’s a matter for them and Indonesia. Circumstances change. People’s perceptions and attitudes change. So we regard that as essentially not a matter for Australia but a matter for the individual concerned and Indonesia.

I also raised, because it’s a matter of public record, the recent death in Papua where there was an incident where one person was killed. And I asked Dr Wirajuda what were the facts and circumstances and Dr Wirajuda, as I would expect, said to me that


this was being investigated by the National Police because there had been a death in Papua and I would naturally expect that if such a thing occurred the relevant authorities would investigate the circumstances in the usual way.

More generally on Papua can I say the Lombok Treaty requires Australia (and there is now a requirement as far as we are concerned and we do it voluntarily) to respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity over Papua. Our own view is that two things have occurred in recent times in Papua which are of significance. Firstly we very much welcome and encourage the notion of autonomy and we think this is a very good thing for Indonesia to effect. Secondly we do welcome the fact that resources are now being applied to seek to improve substantially the Papuan economy for the betterment of the people of the Papuan region. As a natural instinct of course we want to see the living standards and the living conditions of Papuans improve just as we want to see the living standards and living conditions of Indonesians living in remote areas and who live in the poorest areas improve. That’s one of the reasons we have such a substantial development assistance program.

MC: Thank you very much.