Australia wants to be Indonesia’s ‘trusted partner’: Abbott

Mr Abbott emphasised the lines of communication between him and President Joko Widodo had reopened following a strain earlier in the year ahead of the executions of Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.


Mr Abbott is looking forward to catching up with Mr Widodo at various leaders’ summits during the next few months.

“Occasionally there are ups and downs, but certainly under this government, there will be no gratuitous offence given, there will be no shocks,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

The prime minister is delighted the live cattle trade appears to be returning to normal levels again after Indonesia cut its quotas and then reversed the move to head off a beef shortage.

More than 2300 ready-for-slaughter Australian cattle arrived at a Jakarta port on Thursday.

Mr Abbott said he wanted Australia to be the place Indonesians naturally chose if they wanted an overseas education and Indonesia to be the place that Australians chose to holiday in the region.

However, Australians travelling to Bali will still have to fork out $50 in visa fees, despite Jakarta’s willingness to scrap the charge.

That’s because Canberra is refusing to make reciprocal arrangements for Indonesian citizens.

The Indonesian government has announced visa fees will be scrapped for tourists from Australia and 46 other countries from October.

But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has ruled out changing Australia’s no-exemptions policy for tourists from any country.

Ms Bishop discussed the issue with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi at a “warm and constructive” breakfast meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

“She explained that Indonesia would love to provide Australia with visa exemptions, but unless they got reciprocity, they wouldn’t be able to do so,” Ms Bishop said.

“Our policy is across the board – there are no exemptions.”

The pair also discussed trade, investment and counter-terrorism efforts.

Ms Bishop said she and Ms Marsudi were in constant contact via text messages, “much to the chagrin of diplomats”.

Ms Bishop will visit Indonesia in October.

Meanwhile, opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek is in Jakarta on Thursday and Friday for meetings with Indonesian ministers and other dignitaries.