Subjects: Kevin Rudd, Howard Government, Indonesia, turning back the boats





28 June 2013 

Interview in Press gallery hallway

 

 

Subjects: Kevin Rudd, Howard Government, Indonesia, turning back the boats

 

E&OE…

 

JULIE BISHOP   

 

Kevin Rudd has revealed the ugly tactics that he intends to use in his new government and that is to make absurd and wild claims that the Coalition would trigger a conflict with Indonesia over people smuggling. It is utterly irresponsible and reckless for the Prime Minister of this country to try and use our bilateral relationship with Indonesia for base domestic political purposes. It is a massive overreach, it is a shocking diplomatic gaffe, and he should retract it before he does any more damage.

 

It is not our policy to, in any way, breach Indonesian territorial integrity or sovereignty. It is not our policy to seek to trigger a conflict with Indonesia. In fact, we have spent years talking with Indonesia about how we can work co-operatively to dismantle the people smuggling trade that was re-invigorated after Kevin Rudd changed the policy that worked.

 

JOURNALIST

 

It’s not your policy, but could it be an unintended effect of your policy, that it raises the temperature?

 

JULIE BISHOP

 

Please do not raise Kevin Rudd’s ridiculous absurd alarmist comments into some sort of possible scenario. It’s an outrageous thing for him to say but it does give us some indication of the kind of tactics he is going to use. There is obviously nothing he will stop at. It’s a massive overreach; he should retract it before he does any more damage.

 

And this, on the eve of the Australia-Indonesia annual leadership dialogue, he is trying to drag President Yudhoyono into his ugly war against Tony Abbott. It’s very, very bad politics and even worse in terms of diplomatic relations.

 

JOURNALIST

 

[inaudible] ‘diplomatic incident’, or ‘diplomatic conflict’ is what he said.

 

JULIE BISHOP

 

He said we will try and trigger a conflict and then he said, ‘who knows where it would go’. Well, we understand his coded language and I am appalled to think the Prime Minister of this country could be so reckless and irresponsible with our relationship with Indonesia which is one of our most important relationships.

 

Our bilateral relationship with Indonesia will be a first order priority for a Coalition Government. First, we have to repair the damage caused by this government’s reckless banning of live cattle exports to Indonesia.

 

So, we are working co-operatively with Indonesia quietly behind the scenes – none of this megaphone approach of Kevin Rudd. What does he do within 24 hours of being sworn in as Prime Minister? He tries and suggests that there is going to be a conflict with Indonesia under a Coalition Government. It’s outrageous and it should be utterly and absolutely condemned.

 

JOURNALIST

 

Do you acknowledge though that Indonesia has said on numerous occasions now that it will not take the boats back?

 

JULIE BISHOP

 

The policy that we have articulated time and time again is the policy that the Howard Government …

 

JOURNALIST

 

And there is a policy conflict now though isn’t there, as Kevin Rudd said, as Indonesia has said, it will not take the boats back.

 

JULIE BISHOP

 

Indonesia has not changed its position. The Coalition has not changed its position. Under the Howard Government, and that is exactly the same approach we will use, boats were returned. They are Indonesian boats, with Indonesian crew, with Indonesian flags. What worked under the Howard Government will work again.

 

JOURNALIST

 

But how can you say that when times have changed, times have moved on and Indonesia is now saying that it won’t take the boats back?

 

JULIE BISHOP

 

Nothing has changed. We will be able to, and I am confident we will be able to, implement the policies that worked. That includes temporary protection visas, that includes offshore processing and turning boats back where it is safe to do so. They are policies that worked under the Howard Government and they will work again.

 

I think Kevin Rudd should front the media again and retract his shameful attempt…


 














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