Jakarta has stressed there’s more to restoring ties with Australia than the code to restore co-operation on people smuggling, which may be close.
An agreement to end the temporary ban on Indonesian co-operation with Australia on people smuggling may be close to completion, but Jakarta stresses there’s more to restoring ties than a piece of paper.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she has sent her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa a draft agreement on the code, which Indonesia demanded in the wake of last year’s phone-tapping revelations.
All military, police and people smuggling co-operation stopped after it was revealed that Australia had tapped the mobile phone of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and ministers.
Dr Natalegawa on Wednesday agreed that communication on the code had been very good.
But he would not say whether it was close to finished.
“There is a process ongoing,” he told reporters in Jakarta.
“Until it’s all done, I’m not going to give a judgment or impression of where we are, if it’s close or in the beginning or in the middle.”
The minister stressed that talks with Australia were not only about the code, or the six-point plan to restoring the relationship.
“You can’t legislate trust,” he said.
“You can’t legislate understanding. It has to be a process, and we are seeing day in, day out, unfortunately, developments that tend to go against the flow of building trust.
“We are trying very hard to ensure that we don’t make complications more complicated.”
Dr Natalegawa has repeatedly expressed concerns about the Abbott government’s policy of turning back asylum-seeker boats.
Those worries intensified this month with confirmation Australian navy ships entered Indonesian waters without permission during Operation Sovereign Borders.
Dr Natalegawa said the breaches had affected the rebuilding of trust because they were “part of the atmospherics”.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week likened the incursions – which happened despite all the technology at the navy’s disposal – to a dropped catch in a Test match.
Even people at the very top of their game occasionally made mistakes, he said.
“Test cricketers drop catches, great footballers occasionally miss tackles.”
Dr Natalegawa, who has compared the six-point process to changing a car’s oil, on Wednesday continued the sporting analogy.
“I have said from the very beginning … it’s ‘not cricket’ that they have been involved in the spying incident with Indonesia.”
Ms Bishop said the pair were in discussion to meet again “shortly” to conclude the code.
The federal government says its tough border policy has resulted in 40 days passing without an asylum-seeker boat arrival.