Coalition's boat plan 'risks co-operation' with Indonesia

06/08/10 192936 Deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop visit's Buderim. Alex Somlyay
06/08/10 192936 Deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop visit's Buderim. Alex Somlyay Cade Mooney

NEWLY-minted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is being accused of faltering during her first try at international diplomacy, after key discussions were made public by her Indonesian counterpart.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa's department issued a 1100-word press release after he met Ms Bishop in New York.

It warned that the Australian Government's intention to turn back the boats would "risk co-operation" between the countries.

Acting Opposition Leader Chris Bowen seized on the comments, at a lunchtime press conference, saying the Indonesian politician's comments echoed what the Labor Party was saying prior to losing power, that Coalition policy would jeopardise Australia's relationship with Indonesia.

"It's a clear indication that Julie Bishop has failed her first test as Foreign Minister," Mr Bowen said.

Earlier, Howard government-era Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told ABC's The Drum that Mr Natalegawa had no right to criticise the new government.

"Let me make this point for Mr Natalegawa's benefit: Indonesian-flagged boats with Indonesian crews are breaking our laws bringing people into our territorial waters," Mr Downer said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was more measured in his responses when interviewed on a morning radio show.

He repeatedly spoke of his unwavering respect for Indonesia and described the asylum-seeker issue as a "passing irritant".

The only way, he said, that Australia's relationship with Indonesia would be put at risk was if the government did "foolish things".

"We will do strong and sensible things which build on the good relationship we already have with Indonesia".

Mr Abbott, Ms Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb are to meet with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday.

Topics:  chris bowen indonesia julie bishop

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Snitz sizzles to win qualifier with ease

IN FULL FLIGHT: Brisbane jockey Robbie Fradd streaks clear to win the $150,000 NRRA Country Championships qualifier on board Snitz, trained by Matt Dunn, at Clarence River Jockey Club.

SHORT priced favourite sends everybody home happy.

Ballina Players brings popular military drama to the stage

ON STAGE: John Rado as Colonel Nathan Jessep and Dylan Wheeler as Lt Daniel Kaffee in the Ballina Players production of A Few Good Men.

Tickets are on sale for their new production of A Few Good Men

Triumph of dreams ... it all started with one bike

A CLASSIC: Meerschaum Vale's Col McAndrew with his Triumph 1956 Speed Twin which he will show at the Northern Rivers Classic Motorcycle Club's Show and Shine at Alstonville Plaza on March 18.

Col has six classic bikes; 100 expected at show

Local Partners