Mon July 16, 2012 8:19pm
Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa directly repudiates comments last week by the Australian Opposition that the relationship between the two countries was 'dysfunctional' because of the asylum seeker issue.
INDONESIAN foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has directly repudiated comments last week by the Australian Opposition that the relationship between the two countries was "dysfunctional" because of the asylum seeker issue.
"I disagree with that," Mr Natalegawa said after bilateral meetings with Australian foreign minister Bob Carr in Jakarta.
"The asylum issue is only a third dimension in our bilateral relations, and I'm certainly not going to allow this issue to define the nature of our relations."
Shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that, "the relationship with Indonesia with this government has become so dysfunctional that we find ourselves in the situation where we bear the full burden [of rescuing asylum seeker boats]".
Mr Morrison's comments came after Opposition leader Tony Abbott's claimed that he would improve relations with Indonesia and make the country his first overseas visit if he is elected Prime Minister next year.
But Mr Natalegawa said it was "practically impossible for me to over-exaggerate the importance that we attach to the bilateral relationship with Australia", adding, "if we get our bilateral relationship right, as we have been," then it would have a positive impact on the entire region.
Senator Carr also ridiculed Mr Abbott's claim that his visit would improve relationships with Indonesia, saying it was "badly mistaken and naive".
"It won't achieve a miraculous result that enables him to say the relationship’s now so good I can start having the Australian navy tow back refugee boats and let them loose in Indonesian waters," Senator Carr said.
Mr Abbott's proposal was briefly discussed in the bilateral meetings, Mr Carr said, adding, "Our respective positions are well known. Both governments disagree with that approach".