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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 15974

Joint Press Conference with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, State Palace, Jakarta

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/06/2008

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 15974

PRESIDENT YUDHOYONO: [Statement in Indonesian]

PRIME MINISTER RUDD: It's good to be back in Jakarta. I always feel as if I am a welcome guest in this country, and it is my first visit to the capital of the Indonesian Republic as Prime Minister of Australia.

It is an important relationship for both countries. Australia and Indonesia are neighbours through geographical circumstance. But we are friends through active national choice. And this is a very good friendship. A very strong friendship. Not just between each other, but also, the new phase of cooperation now between Indonesia and Australia in the counsels of the world.

Today, the President and myself discussed our proposals to continue to expand our security cooperation within the framework of the Lombok Treaty.

One practical area of cooperation we discussed was our proposal to take a joint proposal to the next meeting of APEC on cooperation on counter disaster organisation and management, here in the Asia-Pacific region.

Indonesia has experienced a tsunami. The people of Burma the terrible impact of the cyclone. The people of western China, the earthquake, most recently. We don't know where a natural disaster will hit next. But, between us, we believe we can take a good and strong proposal, consistent with the mandate we've received from APEC to do so, when APEC next meetings in Lima at the end of the year. Good for the people of the region, good for the countries of the region, and good also for Australia and Indonesia to be working together on such a practical project.

Second, on the area of our economic cooperation, there is a strong relationship between us and getting stronger. And again, His Excellency the President and myself agreed that our officials would work with every effort to bring about a successful conclusion to the current free trade negotiations between Australia and New Zealand and ASEAN, and I thank Indonesia for their active participation in that process.

The President and I also discussed bilateral and regional cooperation, and global cooperation, on climate change. The great economic, environmental, and moral challenge of our generation. We have, as you would have just seen, signed together the Australia-Indonesia Carbon Forest Partnership. This is important for the future. It's important because if you look at the impact of rainforests on global warming, (inaudible) we have seen so that this contributes some 20 per cent to the global challenge on carbon emissions.

What we've agreed today is a practical program between two countries to make this better. Firstly, at the policy level, here in Jakarta, through our cooperative efforts together. Secondly, through the important work of technical measurement and management through the National Carbon Accounting Scheme - or NCAS - which we in Australia have developed and are working with Papua New Guinea on at present. And thirdly, through demonstration projects in Indonesia, involving carbon credits.

This is a practical project, it is one that we discussed together in Bali six months, it was one we have signed together today here in Jakarta, and one we hope to build on in the proposals we put together when we attend the G8 outreach meeting on climate change in Hokkaido, Japan in only a few weeks time.

We also discussed our regional cooperation more broadly. And I thank Indonesia for its thought for Australia's inclusion some years ago into the East Asian Summit. We also discussed how Australia and Indonesia could work together in the development of our regions future architecture. And our officials look forward to working with each other on this project, including a discussion of our proposal for an Asia Pacific Community by 2020.

Within ASEAN itself there is already a great culture of cooperation. On security matters, on political matters, on economic matters, and on social matters. And in many respects, that culture of cooperation needs to be taken more broadly across the breadth of the Asia Pacific region.

I thank the President for his support for our proposal for an international commission to discuss nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. This is a challenge for all countries of the world. And we welcome any form of Indonesian participation in that Commission which will be co-chaired by the former Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Evans.

Bi-laterally, we also talked about education. And the numbers are stark. There are some 16,000 Indonesian students currently studying in Australia. There are some 50 Australian students currently studying in Indonesia. That is not good enough. We need to do better. And we intend to do better. We currently have many, many young Australians studying the Indonesian language in our schools. 177,000 of them. We intend to increase that number. But the challenge lies in regenerating the study of Indonesian language and studies more broadly through our university system. And we will be working the universities in Australia on that. And I thank very much the President's decision concerning the extension of higher degree scholarships to Indonesian students who further study in Australia.

Finally, we also discussed the great challenge that we face with democracy and the future of interfaith dialogue. I thank very much the President for his kind invitation to co-chair the Bali Conference on Democracy. It is an honour for him to have extended that invitation to me. And I accept it gladly. Beyond that, we discussed at some length where we take our existing interfaith dialogue between our two countries, and expand that more broadly across the world.

You see, there is a thesis in the world at the moment, sometimes called in the academic literature, the Huntington thesis about the clash of civilisations. (Inaudible) and myself don't agree with the Huntington thesis. (Inaudible) and myself have a different view. And we intend to work together on that different view. That there is nothing inevitable about the clash of civilisations. That, in fact, there are huge commonalities between us which we need to build on. And interfaith dialogue between our countries and more broadly across the globe, is an area where our two countries will have further to say in the months ahead.

President, thank you very much for your kindness and hospitality in receiving myself and my wife Therese here in Jakarta today. For the ceremonial welcome that we received and for the time that we were able to spend in the Indonesian Republic. Indonesia is such an extraordinary international success story. A robust democracy, only ten years after (inaudible). An economy generating strong economic growth. A great culture of domestic tolerance within its society. An Indonesia now increasingly a voice of leadership through the world and through the counsels of this region on climate change and beyond.

It's an honour to be here, Mr President. I look forward to your visit in Australia when you are able to make the time available to do so. Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST: [Question in Indonesian]

PRIME MINISTER RUDD: Well, firstly, I'm not familiar with the circumstances of this particular matter. More broadly, can I say, that here in Indonesia, we have not just a robust democracy, but I think, a great tradition of respecting the citizens of Indonesia's human rights.

Of course, both of our countries are governed by international law and international humanitarian and, by international refugee law. And we will always be mindful of our obligations under our treaties on that question.

And, on difficult and sensitive matters in the past, Indonesia and Australia have worked well together. I'm sure we'll work together well on any such challenges into the future as well.

JOURNALIST (BONGIORNO): President Yudhoyono, the Australia travel warning speaks of very high threat of terrorist attack in Bali, and the imminent threat of terrorism in other parts of Indonesia. Do you accept that this accurately describes the situation? And would you like to see Australia follow the example of the United States and lift its travel warning?

And to Prime Minister Rudd, do you accept that the advice contained in our travel warnings is accurate as of today? And do you believe that Australia maybe should follow the United States?

PRESIDENT YUDHOYONO: [Response in Indonesian]

PRIME MINISTER RUDD: Thank you very much, Mr President, in response to the question that has just been posed.

Firstly, I think we need to understand the history which, of course, His Excellency the President has just outlined. Terrorist attacks in 2002, 2005 as well as that on the Australian Embassy here in Jakarta. These have had a significant impact on a large number of Australian families. We, in Australia, will always be sensitive to their experience.

Second point is that in Australia we have an independent body called the National Threat Assessment Centre. The National Threat Assessment Centre reaches its own conclusions on these matters. And, having reached those conclusions, they are then reflected on the content of our advisory. And that is our process, as it has been in the past, and will be into the future.

The other thing that I would like to say is to reinforce what the President has said. The current level of cooperation between the Indonesian security forces and the Australian security forces in dealing with the terrorism challenge is extraordinarily close. Both from the Australian Federal Police, and other agencies, including Immigration - it is very, very good. And I would thank the President for the extent to which that cooperation is able to continue into the future because that is so important to us as well. Obviously these matters involve sensitivities. I understand that. I think we all understand that. These are difficult challenges. And we have, of course, some disagreement among friends on this. But, from the Australian point of view, we are required within our system to respond to the advice provided by NTAC, the National Threat Assessment Centre.

Indonesia and our future security cooperation I'm sure will go from strength to strength as we continue in our common resolve to deal with our common enemy, which is terrorism.

Transcript 15974