Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the government is dealing with the escalating row with Indonesia in the Australian way, not how United States President Barack Obama dealt with German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Senator Cormann said Prime Minister Tony Abbott had expressed regret at reports that Australian intelligence monitored the mobile phone of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and others.
But he ruled out an apology akin to that which President Obama sent to Chancellor Merkel when it emerged US intelligence had monitored her phone.
“We are dealing with this situation in an Australian way, according to our judgments as to what is in our national interest. That is what the prime minister is doing,” he told the Ten Network.
Senator Cormann said Mr Abbott had handled this in the absolutely appropriate manner, completely focused on the national interest.
“This is no doubt one of the more challenging periods of our relationship,” he said.
Senator Cormann said agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce had deferred rather than cancelled a planned trip to Indonesia to negotiate expanded sales of Australian cattle.
“That trip will still take place. The trade relationship with Indonesia will strengthen into the future,” he said.