Minister Payne: Thank you very much and fabulous to be here in Bali and in Indonesia for the 11th Bali Democracy Forum and to have been invited to address the Forum and participate on the panel about democracy and prosperity this morning. It was a very valuable opportunity for Australia and also a good chance for me to catch up with a number of counterparts in the region including Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. We have been much admiring of the Bali Democracy Forum. Not a lot of these activities sustain themselves over the long term. This is the eleventh year of the BDF and I think that’s an enormous credit to Indonesia, to the Indonesian Government, and to Foreign Minister Marsudi’s personal passion at this point in time, so very pleased to be here.
We discussed a number of issues as well in our bilateral discussion today. Obviously the Indo-Pacific concept which is so important to President Widodo and the ASEAN centrality which is at the heart of that. Australia strongly encourages Indonesia in the work that they are doing in that regard. We have also had some time to talk about the humanitarian work of AHA around the Rakhine State and whether Australia can support that and we will be doing that. I have also expressed to the Foreign Minister our sincere condolences in regard to the terrible attack in Papua and the deaths that have resulted from that, both to her and to the government and to the families of those people, and of course reinforced the importance of a strong investigation into that attack.
I’m very happy to answer any questions either about the Bali Democracy Forum or otherwise.
Journalist: What did you tell the minister today in relation to the Middle East review and was there any discussion of the timing for the signing of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement?
Minister Payne: As Foreign Minister Marsudi said we did briefly discuss the process of review and the timing that the Prime Minister has committed to in relation to that, which is an outcome in this month, and that was the extent of our discussion and I wouldn’t necessarily go into any further detail about private discussions anyhow.
Journalist: On IA-CEPA, it was said the other day by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut that he anticipated the signing of the document by the end of this year, is that your understanding and did you agree or pencil in a date with Ms Marsudi today?
Minister Payne: We haven’t put a timeline on that. As I said yesterday in the Senate chamber, it will be signed when it’s ready.
Journalist: So you wouldn’t even commit to by the end of this year?
Minister Payne: We haven’t put a timeline on it.
Journalist: Did she indicate that she was waiting for the end of the year before a timeline be put on it?
Minister Payne: There was no discussion of that nature.
Journalist: Did you give her any assurances at all about Australia’s impending decision on what Australia will do with its embassy in Israel, whether it will be moved to Jerusalem?
Minister Payne: As I said, we discussed the process of the review and the timeline and I’m not going to go into any further discussions, but we were focused on a very brief discussion about the process and the timeline.
Journalist: How would you characterise the meeting today?
Minister Payne: Extremely warm and extremely positive. We have a lot of important work to do together, some of which I have already mentioned. We are both very concerned about the challenge that we face in our region from what has occurred in Myanmar, particularly in relation to what has occurred in Rakhine State, so that is a matter of interest to us both. And we are also both, as the Foreign Minister referred to in her press remarks, we are both very interested in the participation of women in the democratic process, in the political process, and that is something on which we continue to work together.
Journalist: Just on Myanmar, Minister if I may ask, we’ve seen a couple of boats have arrived in the last few months from Myanmar and from Bangladesh containing Rohingya refugees coming to Malaysia and indeed coming to Indonesia. Did both you express concern about that and did you perhaps talk about a joint framework for Australia and Indonesia to tackle that?
Minister Payne: Our focus today was very much on the challenge that having significant numbers of displaced people presents, on the challenge that presents in security terms and most importantly in humanitarian terms. Australia has made a contribution of humanitarian support to the people who are currently at Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, and I think it is important in this conversation to acknowledge the Bangladeshi government’s efforts in supporting those many hundreds of thousands of people. That is our focus, the humanitarian aspect of it, and we’ll continue to work together on that. Minister Marsudi has taken a leading role. She is acutely aware of this humanitarian challenge, knowing that Indonesia also takes up its role on the Security Council in January, this is a matter which I think she is very sensitive to.
Journalist: So what sort of support can we give and I don’t know what the AHA Centre actually is.
Minister Payne: It’s a humanitarian centre in Jakarta that Australia is interested in working with Indonesia on, to support. It is going to do a needs assessment around Rakhine and come back to ASEAN members in regards to the sort of effort that needs to be directed, that will provide us with safe, durable, sustained opportunities to return for those who would seek to do so.
Journalist: Okay, so we’re going to help with the returns process of the Rohingya?
Minister Payne: No, I said we’re going to support the AHA, it’s an ASEAN initiative, but Australia can provide some small amount of support and we will be doing that.
Journalist: Are you talking about financial support?
Minister Payne: We haven’t finalised that yet but it may be people who have experience in that sort of work, it may be in other ways.
Journalist: Is Australia doing anything to help Hakeem Al-Araibi who’s facing deporting to Bahrain?
Minister Payne: We are very concerned about the position of Mr Al-Araibi, we have made and continue to make strong diplomatic representations in relation to his position. He has been visited by our officials in Thailand and we are grateful to the Thai authorities for the support that they are providing to him and we hope that we can see a swift decision that will ensure his future safety.
Journalist: The red notice for his arrest, as I understand it, has been withdrawn. Why is he still in Thailand?
Minister Payne: Well, I’m sure there are legal processes that are still underway. We are seeking advice from the Thai authorities as to his status and we will continue to do that.
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