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Greg Sheridan's take on Tony Abbott's handling of the relationship with Indonesia

Greg Sheridan's view published in today's The Australian newspaper - if anyone can point me towards President Yudhoyono's statement I'd be obliged.

TONY Abbott's letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been successful. That judgment is inescapable and incontestable.

The President, in his formal statement responding to the Prime Minister's letter, has spoken warmly of the relationship with Australia. He has also spoken warmly of Abbott, whom he describes as "my good friend". The President has committed to a process of consultation and negotiation with Australia to come up with a set of agreed protocols to cover intelligence sharing, among other things.

There are complications and troubles aplenty ahead. But so far, Abbott has handled one of the most complex international relations crises you could imagine extremely well. He has been calm throughout. He has stressed the key national interest that Australia has in its relationship with Indonesia. He has been warm and gracious towards the President.

He has also safeguarded Australia's key interests in maintaining its intelligence capabilities. He has stayed away from the obvious political points he could have made against Labor. He has responded to the President quickly, but with serious, indeed intense, deliberation at every stage.

There may still be very challenging days in this relationship to come, but whatever happens, this has been a solid performance by the Abbott government. It should give our allies, and the Australian people, a good deal of reassurance that this is a competent, sensible government fully conscious of the grave responsibilities it must shoulder in national security.

Overall, this was surely the most positive response the Indonesian President, universally known as SBY, could possibly have come up with. There was a great deal of nationalist outrage in Indonesia at the revelations that Australia's Defence Signals Directorate had been tapping the President's phone, and that of his wife and close associates, in 2009.

A lot of players in Indonesian politics were stirring the waters on this. Most big players in Indonesian politics are less internationalist, and more inclined to nationalist paranoia, than is the President himself. Indonesian friends tell me that behind the scenes one of the presidential candidates, former general Prabowo Subianto, was stirring up a great deal of anti-Australian trouble, even though in public Prabowo was fairly quiet.

But this story has a long, long way to run and we could still well be in for choppy waters ahead.


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Labor tried to ride roughshod over us all, boats schools radio conservatives as well as workers at all level. They were and always will be a disgrace. I'm so glad there Gonskie.

Old Rooster

Doubt the actual text of SBY letter will be released but this is best I can find on ALPBC no less.

Old Rooster

From Jakarta Post

Although he had indicated that his Australian counterpart had not fully responded to his demand for a full answer concerning wiretapping allegations, as conveyed in his letter to the Australian leader last week, overall President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono felt encouraged by Tony Abbott’s promise that such a practice would not happen in the future.

Surprisingly, apart from talking about Australia, Yudhoyono also said he had ordered Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to summon the ambassadors of Singapore and South Korea over media reports that their governments had also engaged in wiretapping here.

The President also implied that Abbott did not apologize for the bugging of telephone conversations of several top Indonesian officials, including spying on the President himself and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono. Many Indonesians have insisted that Australia apologize for the blatant violation of Indonesia’s trust.

The President also pointed out that he would send a special envoy to settle all problems caused by the espionage conducted by the Australian intelligence agency, and that further discussions between the two countries were still important to restore the relations between the two members of the G20.

Speaking to reporters after presiding over a Cabinet meeting to discuss Abbott’s recent letter, the President cited several important points from the newly elected prime minister’s reply to his answer, including Australia’s strong commitment to boosting relations with Indonesia.

Quoting Abbott’s letter, Yudhoyono quoted three basic and important points: that Australia had agreed to Yudhoyono’s proposal to reshape the cooperation framework, including the exchange of intelligence, by drafting a protocol; Abbott’s commitment not to do anything that could be harmful to Indonesia; and Australia’s wish to maintain good relations with Indonesia.

“Nevertheless, it still seems there are some things that need to be clarified by Australia,” said Yudhoyono, adding that he “expected a constructive response from Abbott and the Australian government”.

The future of Indonesia-Australia bilateral ties now depends on how well the two countries draft and implement the code of conduct for cooperation following the allegations of wiretapping the phones of the President, the First Lady and some Cabinet members in 2009.

“The final step after the two countries, especially Indonesia, restore trust and the protocol is completely implemented, then I’d say bilateral cooperation, which obviously brings mutual benefits, can be continued, including military and police cooperation,” Yudhoyono said.

While Indonesia has frozen military, intelligence and information cooperation — as well as joint operations to handle boat people — until the code of conduct is implemented and shows results, the Australian leader has agreed to Indonesia’s demand to push for the joint drafting of and imposition of the code of conduct.

Angered by the wiretapping allegations, Indonesia recalled its ambassador, “downgraded” ties with Canberra and ordered the suspension of the two countries’ cooperation in the military and intelligence sectors, including tackling people smuggling, an issue that had already caused tension before the espionage allegations emerged.

The call to have a code of conduct is among six measures Indonesia is taking; moves that the President said were “based on goodwill to engage in good neighborly relations and a mutually strategic partnership”.

Yudhoyono will now appoint a special envoy to discuss future cooperation with Australia, including “those sensitive issues”, and to draft the code of conduct and protocol for cooperation.

“There is a process that needs to be pursued, discussions that need to be had after this,” said the President.

doubting Murray

Tony Abbott has shown in this matter that he is a more than competent negotiator; no scoring points off the labor opposition,
no blustering at them in question time,very calm and quietly done.
Even his worst enemies will be forced to have a grudging respect for him in spite of themselves.
At the very least, they have grossly underestimated him.
Having stamped his authority on his government with this matter,
I cannot now see any attempts to dethrone him in the forseeable future.
Malcolm Turnbull is now free to stamp his authority on his Ministry of Communications, to wit, the ABC.


For her part in this beat up, Tanya Plibersek should be recalled to Bosnia or where ever, immediately.

That's the only diplomatic action required.

Dennis Thompson

Of course the ALPBC Asia operation foolishly added fuel to the fire as it again played partisan politics for the left side and their opposition to the Coalition government. The enemy within.

Tony Abbott and Team remind me of the old saying that the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.


Whilst endorsing and agreeing with Greg Sheridan's article, I'm more than happy to let former ABC Board member Janet Albrechtsen put my thoughts into words on this occasion, about the senseless mongrel who caused all this unnecessary and damaging turmoil which may yet have very tragic consequences.

What I would have to say about this rotten, treasonous, irresponsible ba*#@rd of a traitororous bloodsucking parasite on the body of Australian taxpayers, Mark Scott, would be largely unprintable!

Angry? You bet I'm angry!!

'Why Mark Scott should resign' by: Janet Albrechtsen From: The Australian November 26, 2013 12:00AM


Thanks be for adults in administration.
Sit back now and watch a veritable gulf begin to form between the petulance, pedanticism and prognosticating posturing of a failed experiment,compared to a competent, confident, creative and altogether capable team of mature people as they go to work.

Up The Workers!

I can just see Mark Scott and all the other bigoted brown-nosed Labor toadies at the A.L.P.B.C. saying: "Curses! Foiled Again!!".

Up The Workers!

What the Liberals need to do now is to PUBLICLY FORCE the crooks running the A.L.P., to make FULL RESTITUTION of the millions of dollars stolen from union members by the party's former National President and the A.L.P. Prime Minister and her boyfriend.

These millions were not stolen by a couple of obscure, back-room Party embarrassments - they were stolen by THE two most senior A.L.P. people in the nation.

NOTHING would be more damaging to the A.L.P. than being publicly seen to be forced against its' will, by the Liberal Government, to have to make full restitution of the millions of dollars embezzled from poor, lowly-paid unionists.

We hear so much codswallop from Bull Shitten about how the A.L.P. "looks after the workers".

Why have we not heard: "Sorry. Here are the millions of dollars stolen by Williamson, Thomson, Gillard and Wilson, being returned by the A.L.P., to the H.S.U. and A.W.U. unionists they thieved it from."?


Here's some Fairfax journalists version of the letter:

You know what? It's not even funny. The journalist lacks intelligence and lacks humour. It's about as funny as watching paint dry. I actually hope that Fairfax go broke and Gina gets to buy them for nothing.


Greg Sheridan generally has pretty good sources and more access to the Coalition side than many other commentators.

The comment about Prabowo Subianto is interesting, because there seems to be some disquiet on our side about the activities of high ranking Indonesian military and ex-military.


Yes, Janet Albrechtson can also speak for me.

Mark Scott should be charged under the Crimes Act. He has committed a crime. Once he is charged he might begin to understand why he did the wrong thing, and that national interest is more important than public interest.


I'd say a comprehensive win, but just one point. There is ALWAYS an undercurrent of anti-Australian nationalism in Indonesia, as there is always an undercurrent of nationalist anti-Americanism in Australia. In Indonesia there is a huge undercurrent of anti-chinese nationalism too, much, much greater than any anti-american, or anti-australian sentiment.

There is nothing at all unusual about that, Indonesia is nothing like Australia, and many Indonesians would say that's a good thing.


muso, I'm with you on this, even with all the big words. It's comforting to see the adults back in charge.


Agreed, h/b.In wartime, such an individual would have had an appointment with the gallows, or taken for a drive in the forest.The sad reality is,we can vent as much as we like, but the people who are in a position to call a halt to the Mark Scott's of this world, won't. He won't resign - he is above all that.The irony is,if he gets the shove, he can look forward to a monumental payout with absolutely no repercussions concerning the untold damage he has caused.His actions have been treasonous;no further discussion needed.Calling for his resignation is the easy way out.
I am utterly sick in the guts that a change in Government has not rid us of the parasitic behavior of labour apologists who continue to cause damage to this country.The corruption on every level in Austalia is mind boggling.We are not Indonesia FFS,- Australia is supposted to be a First World country.
When are we as a Nation going to say, like Peter Finch's famous spray in Network,
" I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore"


HB33 Yes I thought Janet's analysis and criticism were telling, especially as she was part of the Board that appointed Scott and if his CV contained as many lies as his public statement (recent AudioBoos here) then he deserves the sack by the Board who seem to be the only ones who can - and should - ensure that the ABC abide their charter.
Malcolm Turnbull may be technically unable to sack him, but he sure as hell should be canvassing the Board to do their job.


Team Australia led by shorten whose only claim to fame is knifing sitting labor leaders,covering up union corruption, swearing at defenseless shop assistants, & plibersek who is trying hard to get gillards crown as the most divisive & deceitful women in public life,
have been caught with their pants down.


The sad part in all this is the good work all goes unnoticed but the voting public used to the daily sensations of Labor. Even some Liberals think that TA is not doing enough. ABC inaction is perhaps the main gripe.


And me too hillbilly33!

Treacherous, traitorous and treasoness!

The ABC has lost the ability to discern that 'line' that you don't cross over!

Tony Jones did it also when interviewing the gameshow host!

I am so sad for OZ, my children and grandchildren.


I can smell another additional couple of our lazy $billion dollars in donations off to Indonesia, to build islamic schools, etc, etc. Our money gonskied!!!

Is this a win?? Pigs arse!

The ABC should be arrested and charged with high treason with a judge who will throw the book at them....20+ years in the slammer.


You are right. We the public do not need to know everything. That is why we are suppose to use our brains and elect representatives who we trust to always have our interests and that of our nation uppermost in all they do.
The media, who grew in numbers and self importance with Labor in control, mainly because Labor saw them as a useful propaganda machine, have become a danger to the security of our nation.


Hi Mike. You may like to elicit a response to the recent, as yet unpublicised death of an Indonesian fishing Master while in our duty of care. His vessel 'Anjelina' was boarded, searched, sent back to Timor sans skipper who was taken to Australia. His body was flown back to Bali 8pm last Saturday, then home to Madura.


give it time sparky, this govt is new.

I feel sure that there are people noting all of these things and it will be good-bye Mark Scott.

I agree, the ABC needs to be cleaned out. All of the presenters need to be shown the door because they are useless turds.


YBL is the good guy. I do not trust any who are ex-Military in Indonesia. My exception was Wiranto, and that is for a very good reason.

Any of them who show Islamist traits are never to be trusted.... never... ever....


Surely Turnbull can ask him to resign.. or face criminal charges.


I thought Electricity Bill's claim to fame was the fact that he cannot keep his zipper up... because he is too busy baby making.

Old Rooster

[...] iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli / uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim / imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se / continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, / panem et circenses. [...]
(Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81)

… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.

For so long now, and in particular the period of the most recent ALP interregnum, politics itself has been turned into an entertainment. The Annona or grain dole is now replaced by lavish amounts spent on such things as Health and Education which is not so much a provision of services to the populace as it is a transfer of community wealth to service providers in proportion to their political clout. Burgeoning bureaucracies of course take the cut off the top. Never before in human history is so much taken from so many to give to so few for so little.

Maggie 47

Let her continue Arch. Pliberserk and "that" lot are damaging themselves everytime they open their mouths.

Maggie 47

"Gina gets to buy them for nothing" and sacks the lot and starts afresh.


I am under the impression that there was more damaging leaks to come so am quietly hoping the AFP are undertaking an investigation with a view to laying charges. Has Mr Turnbull given the ABC, at the least, the hint to heed the loud message from the Austalian public that releasing secret intell is not in Australia's national (or public) interests?
My understanding of the boat issue that people have been convinced to board the poor craft as they are given a satellite phone and told to ring Australia when they think they are far enough out. Australian contacts must be passing the message back that will not work atm plus there is plenty in the Indon media so hoping that people will refuse to venture out now.


Not that my opinion means much, but I have absolute faith in the LNP to right the considerable wrongs of those incompetent, moronic, utterly corrupt (and still are) ALP imbeciles. Look at the talent of the LNP but more importantly the moral compass. I'm not saying all are anymore than normal and that's my point.
A more abnormal bunch of raving fruit cakes, all shagging one another, lying, cheating, thieving bunch of cretins you will never find than in the ALP!
Australia and our people deserves so much better than this ALP union controlled bunch of crooks. May they "enjoy" opposition for the next 10 years :)


What???? That's one heck of a story rubberducky!

Is this going to be in Scott Morrison's briefing tomorrow or is it one of those incidents' that will remain under the radar like the riot at Christmas Island that resulted in the death of a prisoner (asylum seeker) that was mentioned on this site by the friend of the father of a Doctor who was serving at the Christmas Island detention medical centre?

Was there any foul play rubberducky?

P.S. I think I have blown your cover:


Where do I click "like" Maggie?


Mr Abbott, Mr Hockey, Mr Morrison and Mr Sinodinos in particular strike me as straight arrows. I like Ms Bishop a lot too.
Despite allegations about Peta Credlin (funny how the left claim Mr Abbot despises women while at the same time suggesting that Ms Credlin controls him ) Mr Abbott is a leader who has picked a strong competent team. I think he is the type of leader who inspires strong loyalty despite the wishin' and hopin' of some on the left who think any second now there will be spill with a Mr Turnbull taking over.
Christmas is coming and Mr Abbott is still PM.


What a sorry saga. I highly doubt in any other nations national broadcaster would have done what ours did.


Hi BBPD. No, I hadn't read this blog nor sent comments before. The skipper's name is Suryadi, his vessel was a live fish mothership. Neither Australia nor Indonesia have a tradition of non partisan investigative journalism so yes, many things go unreported, uninvestigated by a Coroner. As for Xmas Isl, there is no air/sea border between Aus and RI as the 1997 Perth Treaty so beloved by Downer was never ratified by the RI Parliament, then killed by events in 1999. If not a complete return to ambit claims then, both parties do indeed want the other to acknowledge the principles accepted in 1997 ie RI controls the Java Trench and Aus the Timor Sea air/sea gap as expressed by our wished-for contiguous zone extending 24nm N of Ashmore including the Hibernia Rf water column. RI's lack of formal control over the whole Java Trench is a major impediment to them using Dili to break and renegotiate the whole 1972 maritime border. Due to Chinese bans on the sharkfin trade, the fin fishery in the MOU [and mostly beyond] collapsed in 2013, dozens of shark fishermen from Rote have taken ii [or pii] boats here this year to get quick bucks for new motorised boats for the reef, bottom and live fish market. If the fin market collapse is extended or even permanent, we shall see more pressure on reef fish for the live trade in our waters. The sharkfin collapse opens up a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the new Ausgov to change the status quo rather than continue pointless, expensive containment measures. Don't hold your breath though.

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