Australia and Indonesia are now in “open conflict”, and repairing the “worsening” relationship is imperative, deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek says.
In the week Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, Greg Moriarty, was reportedly called into the country’s foreign affairs ministry for a “dressing down” over the Abbott government’s border protection policies, Ms Plibersek said it was crucial the government act now to settle the rocky relationship.
“It’s absolutely vital that Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop get on with repairing the relationship with Indonesia,” Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.
“It’s of enormous concern that a huge nation, a growing democracy a nation that’s vital to our security but also to our economic prosperity is now in open conflict and calling the Australian ambassador in for a dressing down.”
The government had inherited a “warm” relationship with Indonesia, but over five months the coalition had “trashed” it, she said.
“Relationships only seem to be worsening,” Ms Plibersek added.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said he told Mr Moriarty that Australia’s use of lifeboats to return asylum seekers was an “unacceptable” escalation of its border protection policy, Fairfax has reported.
It was only in November that Mr Moriarty was last summoned in the wake of the revelations that Australian spies targeted the mobile phones of Indonesia’s president and his inner circle.