Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has conveyed Labor’s support for restoring relations with Indonesia to full strength on her first visit to Jakarta.
Ms Plibersek’s two-day schedule included a meeting with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who is still working through a plan to restore bilateral co-operation that was halted after the spy scandal.
It was revealed last year that Australia tapped the phones of Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle under a Labor government.
But Ms Plibersek says the issue was not raised in her talk with Dr Natalegawa.
Instead, she conveyed “good, warm feelings” towards Indonesia and the wish to resume good relations.
“There’s a bit of friction at the moment and I hope that we will equally manage to repair that friction quickly because it is in Australia’s interest and Indonesia’s interest to do that,” she said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
“This is the first meeting that we’ve had and it is an opportunity for me to establish contact, and I hope that will be a way that we can speak quickly and frankly about any of the issues that are troubling us on either side.”
The visit also included a “frank” discussion with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which this week criticised Australia’s border regime, including pillars of Labor’s policy such as offshore processing.
Indonesia meanwhile remains opposed to Australia turning back asylum-seeker boats.
Ms Plibersek said Labor remained committed to its regional approach to asylum seekers with a more generous humanitarian refugee intake.
But she said Australia should work on the issue in consultation with Indonesia.
“Part of the reason for the friction in our relationship with Indonesia at the moment is because our government has made announcements about what happens on Indonesian soil and in Indonesian waters without consultation,” she said.