Press conference: Dr Marty Natalegawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia and The Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Gedung Pancasila, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

8 July 2011

Minister Marty: Speaks Indonesian

In English: To our colleagues from the media, I would like to thank you for your interest with respect to the bilateral meeting that I have just concluded with Minister Rudd.

I have had a good opportunity to have had bilateral meetings with Minister Kevin Rudd on a number of occasions recently. Not least in the sideline of the recently concluded OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) at Astana, as well as the sideline of the Asia Europe meeting in Budapest in Hungary.

I am welcoming Minister Kevin Rudd to Jakarta to Indonesia and have a very good discussion just now on ways and means to promote our bilateral relations.

Of course many of you would be keenly aware that the past few weeks we've had issues that we needed to manage between Indonesia and Australia. And I must say that thanks to the very close and direct communications that Minister Rudd and I have been able to establish, we have been able to manage precisely those kinds of issues and move forward following the resolution addressing of those matters.

We had a good discussion as I mentioned before on bilateral issues, ways and means of further promoting our bilateral ties but not least we had a useful discussion on the state of the region. Especially in anticipation of the ASEAN and ASEAN related meetings about to be had sometime next week, slightly over next week from now, one week from now.

And we discussed for example the developments in Myanmar. Minister Rudd had just returned from Myanmar and I was able to benefit from Minister Rudd's thoughts and views on the matter. And we also discussed matters to do with the South China Sea as well as preparations for the East Asia Summit.

And here just a final note I would like to share with our media colleagues that Indonesia and Australia have shared a common approach a common views on matters to do with disaster management, disaster response. We are seeking to find ways and means to better utilise the East Asia Summit process, in relation to the issue of disaster management.

Those are some of the thoughts that I would like to share with our media colleagues at this juncture but before opening the floor to some questions I'd like to give the floor to Minister Rudd to also share with us his thoughts on the subject matter.

Mr Rudd: Thanks very much Pak Marty, it's always good to be back in Jakarta and back in Indonesia.

In the period that I've been Foreign Minister, I think I've been to Indonesia three times or so in the last nine months. It's always good to be here and as Pak Marty has just said we often meet in other parts of the world.

This is a great relationship between Australia and Indonesia. We have developed a strong, robust political, security and economic relationship over a number of years now and I'd to acknowledge the role that Pak Marty has played together of course the role of Bapak President in strengthening the relationship.

I well recall Bapak President's visit to Australia and it was the first address of an Indonesian President to the Australian Parliament. It was a memorable occasion for Australian Members of Parliament present and I believe it represented a real watershed in the Indonesia-Australia relationship.

As Pak Marty has said we have dealt today with a range of bilateral issues. And part of our job as Foreign Ministers is to manage bilateral issues when they arise.

And that most recently of course has involved the question of live cattle exports. Both ourselves together with the Agriculture Ministers of both countries, together with the Trade Ministers of both countries as well as Pak Hatta, the coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, have all been hard at work managing this issue of live cattle in recent weeks. The discussions I had earlier today with those three Ministers were successful.

Again, I publicly acknowledge with appreciation the decision by Indonesia today to issue import permits for 180,000 head of cattle and also what Indonesia has done in relation to the promulgation of its new regulations concerning animal welfare standards in this country consistent with the law which in enacted back in 2009.

I also acknowledge the statement which has jointly been issued by both the Indonesian and the Australian industry today, here in Jakarta, concerning what they plan to do in excess of OIE global standards, and I draw that statement to your attention.

Secondly, what Pak Marty and I have focussed on a lot is the region.

We were able to exchange views on recent developments in Myanmar, where I've recently been, having visited last week and met with the President of Myanmar and of course having met also with Aung San Suu Kyi and other representatives of the democratic movement in that country. This is an important regional challenge for us all. The political circumstances in Myanmar in recent years have been problematic. There has been the establishment of a new civilian government in Myanmar; Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest. But of course, 2000 political prisoners remain. And we will be meeting with our colleagues from Myanmar in the Foreign Ministers meeting which will be occurring in Bali the week after next in preparations for the East Asian Summit. We in Australia are Myanmar's second largest international assistance partner and we therefore are working with the Myanmar authorities on how to further lift the one third of their people who exist below the poverty line — a country of 60 million people with a large number in people in poverty.

Thirdly, more broadly across the region, Pak Marty rightly describes the very detailed discussions we've had in preparations for the East Asian Summit. Foreign Ministers will meet in Bali the week after next. And of course heads of Governments will meet in Bali some time after that. This is an important East Asia Summit. It'll be the one attended by the President of the United States and the President of Russia. These are the two new inclusions into our wider East Asian family. Therefore, how we manage the challenges of maritime security in our wider region are important.

How we manage also a challenge near and dear to the hearts of the peoples of our region in the area of counter disaster management is also important. And Pak Marty and I have been exchanging notes now for some months on the details of how we can better coordinate as peoples across the wider region when the next natural disaster hits — whether it's in Australia, whether it's in Indonesia, whether it's in Japan, and whether it's in China or whether it's in the Philippines. How do we best respond to a natural disaster when it hits so we reduce the loss to human life. And the East Asia Summit since 2009 has had counter disaster management put on its agenda by myself then as Prime Minister, we now look forward to the next summit as an opportunity to put more flesh on those bones to make it real for the people on the ground to respond better and better to this increasing spate and intensity of natural disasters.

Finally, if I could simply acknowledge that at a bilateral level of course we have the first of the annual summits between the two leaders of the two countries which will occur at the time I believe of the East Asia Summit itself. Secondly, we have two plus two meetings coming ahead for Australia and Indonesia involving our respective Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers. And on top of that the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum, which involves a range of Ministers in particular those engaged in the economic relationship. So we have a busy six months ahead of us in the Australia Indonesia front.

Pak Marty, I acknowledge your friendship, your openness and the fact that you and I text a lot; and often to the frustration of our respective Foreign Ministries.

Question from Indonesian journalist: speaking in Indonesian

Translation: Based on information from the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, there are still approximately 500 boat crew (Indonesian citizens) still in Australia and dozens of them claim to be under the age of 18. And according to the rules in Australia if they are under 18 years old, they will be freed. What has been the progress on this issue?

Mr Rudd: Thank you for raising that question. And I assume I've had it rendered to me correctly by my good friend and colleague here in English as my Bahasa these days is not up to scratch. In fact, it was never up to scratch. In fact I don't speak a word of Bahasa.

But the question related to new arrangements in Australia for the proper assessment of young people suspected in Australia from Indonesia of committing people-smuggling related offences, and how do we properly deal with the assessment of their age and the treatment of juveniles. Pak Marty, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, raised these concerns with me directly when we last met in Astana.

And as a result of his representations I liaised with all the Australian law enforcement authorities through the Justice Minister and through the Attorney General.

We were able to identify using proper identification techniques that there were three juveniles among those waiting for assessment or consideration by the Australian legal process and because they were juveniles they were of course deemed to be returned.

Therefore, the challenge that we have for the future, is to make sure that we have robust systems to make sure that those in custody in Australia are properly tested for their age.

This is difficult because documentation for birth is often difficult to obtain. New medical testing has been introduced involving dental x-rays, which medical experts determine is a useful means of ascertaining the age of a young person in and around the age of 18 together with other measures of age identification as well.

As a consequence, these new arrangements were announced in a media statement by the Australian Attorney General and the Australian justice Minister in recent times.

They are the protocols which we will be following in the future.

Marty Natalegawa (speaking in Indonesian).

Translation: I also want to add regarding the problem of Indonesian citizens minors — children — who may be accused of people smuggling crimes — this is a major concern for the Indonesian Government.

As Mr Kevin Rudd said, we have, in separate occasions, specifically brought the issue of the three children who have received the Australian Government's attention. And the result has been established that the three were found to be under the age and could be released.

In future, as stated by Mr Kevin Rudd, the Australian Government has established measures to ensure that the determination or certainty about the age of an Indonesian citizen is really confirmed. The Indonesian Government is concerned with in protecting its citizens so these rules should be done well and we believe it will be, our concerns can always be maintained and focused on.

Mr Rudd: Pak Marty raises legitimate questions about the future treatment of such children.

And therefore the statement issued by the Attorney General and the Australian Minister for Justice are entirely right in terms of how we make those assessments into the future.

I think one of the practical matters that Pak Marty and I have discussed is that when we are ascertaining the age of someone whose age is uncertain — that they could well be below the age of 18, that they be separately and appropriately accommodated while those assessments are underway.

Neither the Australian Government nor the Indonesian Government wishes to see any improper treatment of juveniles, minors, those under the age of 18, concerning these sorts of matters.

Journalist: Karisma Goswami from the BBC actually, not the Australian media.

Mr Rudd: You're forgiven.

Journalist: Thank you, I'd like to hope so. A question about the cattle trade: what's convinced Australia that it should change its mind and that Indonesian abattoirs will be safe, has Indonesia given you any guarantees? And a question for the both of you: how badly has this ban affected your robust relationship, your robust trading relationship as you put it.

Mr Rudd: Well, let me take the second question first then I'll go into the detail of the first part your first question.

This is a long standing relationship. We've been neighbours for a long time. That is, since the birth of the Indonesian Republic, back in the late 1940's, we have been building this relationship, often through difficulties in the past, to the strong state that it is today.

I've got to say, when you look at the absolute breadth of this relationship, in economic terms, people to people terms, the tens of thousands of Indonesian students studying in Australia, the fact that we in Australia live next door to the largest Muslim country in the world, this is an excellent relationship.

And what has evolved over time, that when some difficulties arise, we have a robust means by which to deal with it. And Pak Marty has just described how we do that, not just as Foreign Minister to Foreign Minister, and by our counterpart Ministers, all of whom, by and large, know each other well.

Those who come from different parts, for example, Europe, may find it remarkable that countries like Australia and Indonesia get along so well together. Well, we do. Doesn't mean we don't have disagreements or misunderstandings — all neighbours do from time to time — but our foreign policy relationship is strong and robust enough and flexible enough to handle issues when they arise and we've just been speaking about two of them- live cattle exports and the proper treatment of juveniles when they find themselves in trouble with Australian law enforcement authorities concerning people smuggling related offences.

On the first part of your question which goes to the live export trade of Australian cattle, the first thing I would acknowledge is Indonesia's own laws of 2009 concerning animal welfare, secondly the promulgation yesterday of regulations concerning those laws by the Indonesian Government. And within those regulations there's also contained a requirement for feedlots in this country to be linked explicitly with abattoirs — thereby within Indonesia easier therefore to ensure treatment, proper treatment of animals is undertaken from the beginning of the supply chain process to the end of the supply chain process.

Secondly, what we've achieved by way of agreement and primarily through the two industries and also through the Agriculture Ministries who have been working hard on this, is a system whereby the Australian supply chain will be monitored all the way through. That OIE, that is, international standards will be applied, and that independent auditors will certify the actual state of the supply chain, every element of it, in terms of the compatibility with those OIE standards, which are recognised by the Republic of Indonesia, which are recognised by the Commonwealth of Australia.

The third point that I would draw to your attention is what I made reference to before, and that is further the joint statement issued today by the two industries and their active cooperation on the ground.

We've acknowledged Indonesia has issued import permits for 180,000 cattle — what the industry is doing I'd draw your attention to their detailed statement is working out additional standards and implementing those concerning the future of the trade between Indonesia and Australia as well. And I draw your attention in particular to their statement. One paragraph in their statement reads as follows: Australia and Indonesian industry is committed to ensuring the supply chains of live cattle imported from Australia will meet and exceed OIE guidelines. The industry expects that these improvements and facilities will include appropriate technical devices including stunning.

So that is what the industry has agreed between themselves and myself and the Minister for the Coordination of Economic Affairs, Pak Hatta earlier today, said, together, that if industry between themselves agree on higher standards, as our industries have, as reflected their statements today, that is to be welcomed by governments of both countries, which it is.

Minister Marty: Let me just address one of your question, it's almost a given that countries like Indonesia and Australia as neighbours there will be issues that we need to manage.

The most recent weeks of course we've had to deal with the issue of export of cattle and from our perspective we have needing to deal with the issue of detention of juveniles. But the real test of course with any bilateral relations is how we manage and overcome those kinds of challenges. And I must say that the two Governments, the Australian Government and the Indonesian Government, has built that capacity to be able to absorb the challenges and manage and overcome them and move forward.

And this is not the first time and it's not going to be the last time.

We've had quite difficult issues that we need to overcome bilaterally and I must say that all in all even in the most difficult issues we have emerged stronger bilaterally because we have drawn lessons from that processes as well.

Journalist: Thank you. Helen Brown, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Minister Rudd, we were just wondering if you raised the issue of clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and also Schapelle Corby's situation — and if so what kind of response you received.

Mr Rudd: On each occasion that I have visited Indonesian in recent years, these cases have been raised by me, and today is no exception.

Obviously in the case of Chan and Sukumaran, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the final court of appeal in Indonesian has reached its determination and now of course it remains a matter of clemency of possible clemency for the President of the Indonesian Republic.

As I have said on many occasions in the past, should an application for clemency become necessary, which it has, then we the Australian Government will lend our full support to that application.

And that is why I have raised that matter with Pak Marty today as I have done on practically every other occasion I have met him and with Bapak Presiden in recent years.

MC: thanks very much.

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