Indonesia confirms what Abbott refused to admit
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
The Indonesian Government last night confirmed what Tony Abbott has repeatedly refused to confess, which is that the asylum seeker issue was not discussed in a meeting with the president, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, said today.
'Tony Abbott is usually happy to beat his chest and boast about turning back 'Indonesian flagged, Indonesian crewed, Indonesian home-ported vessels', but in a meeting with that country's president, he just didn't have the nerve to raise it,' Mr Bowen said.
'The confirmation from Indonesia last night that he did not raise the asylum seeker issue in their meeting demonstrates an ineptitude that threatens our strong relationship with Indonesia and will put Navy personnel in harm's way.'
Mr Bowen also questioned why Tony Abbott had not released the transcript of his ABC Insiders interview last Sunday, where he embarrassingly refused to discuss whether he had brought up 'turn-backs' with the Indonesian president.
In that same interview, Mr Abbott admitted that turning back boats was 'dangerous work' for Australian Navy personnel.
'Mr Abbott has been told by current and former senior members of the Navy that the Coalition's turn-backs policy puts personnel in danger. He himself admitted on the weekend that this work is dangerous – but he has failed to release that transcript,' Mr Bowen said.
'This is yet more hypocrisy from Tony Abbott, when his own Liberal Party chief Brian Loughnane in January this year criticised the Prime Minister for not releasing every single transcript promptly online.'
Mr Bowen said it was telling that Mr Abbott would put Australian Navy personnel in danger to defend a slogan when he did not have the courage to raise his policy directly with the Indonesian President in a face to face meeting.
'Tony Abbott needs to drop his destructive negativity, drop the turn-backs policy and work with the expert panel, the government and the parliament to come up with a genuine solution that will stop people making these dangerous journeys to Australia,' he said.
The transcript from ABC Insiders that Tony Abbott is yet to release is attached.
See: Tony Abbott's Interview with Barrie Cassidy, ABC Insiders – Transcript (39KB PDF file)
Last update: Tuesday, 10 July 2012 at 16:00 AEST