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December 16, 2017

NBN asbestos problems, 457 visas and republics – politics live blog

The Opposition leader Tony Abbott was out briefly on the doors of parliament a little while ago. He was asked about how he intended to implement the Coalition’s policy of turning back people smugglers’ boats when it is safe to do so.

(This issue became sticky for the Coalition last Friday when the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia indicated there was no agreement to turn boats back. Defence officials have already queried whether this pledge is workable in practice.)

In an interview with Guardian Australia political editor, Lenore Taylor, Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop counsels that all will be well, whatever the Indonesians might be saying to the contrary. ‘It’s the relationship stupid.’ Here’s Lenore’s piece.

This is an excerpt:

High-ranking Indonesian ministers and officials have indicated privately that Indonesia would cooperate with a Coalition government to turn back people smuggler boats insists Julie Bishop, the foreign affairs spokeswoman and deputy Liberal leader, despite the country’s ambassador claiming publicly that “no such collaboration will happen.”

“I have had a number of conversations with high-ranking Indonesian ministers and officials, as has [immigration spokesman] Scott Morrison as has [Coalition leader] Tony Abbott and I am convinced we can work in cooperation with Indonesia to achieve our policy aim,” Bishop said in a wide-ranging foreign policy interview with Guardian Australia.

Tony Abbott is also on the ‘all will be well’ theme. The Coalition has a strong and constructive relationship with Indonesia, Abbott says.

Here’s the relevant sections from his press conference this morning.

QUESTION: Mr Abbott are you prepared to defy the Indonesian Government to turn boats back there even though their Ambassador on Friday made it clear that they don’t want to accept them?

TONY ABBOTT: Look, we’re very confident that we can have a strong and constructive relationship with the Indonesian Government. I’ve had several meetings with the President. I’m met with Foreign Minister Natalegawa. I have a good and strong relationship with Ambassador Nadjib. Julie Bishop obviously spends an enormous amount of time working with the Indonesians, as does Scott Morrison. So we are very confident that an incoming Coalition government won’t repeat the kind of mistakes that we’ve seen from the current government of which the absolute worst was the suspension of the live cattle trade in a state of panic over a TV programme.

QUESTION: You’re talking about the willingness to turn boats around now. Is that different to the reality of turning boats around? Will you actually turn around any boats?

TONY ABBOTT: The Howard Government turned boats around. It wasn’t a large number, but it was enough to send an absolutely crystal clear signal to the people smugglers and their clients that the game was up and that the Australian Government and people would no longer be played for mugs.

QUESTION: How long do you think it will take to stop the boats?

TONY ABBOTT: We will make a difference from day one, from day one we will make a difference and obviously we will be judged on our results – should we win this election – at the subsequent one.

See original: 

NBN asbestos problems, 457 visas and republics – politics live blog

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