What our PM meant of course was, “...and other issues that are of interest to us.”And that of course is why the relationship is now stuck and going nowhere; with the exception that Indonesia’s attitude towards Australia is becoming more ambivalent as the weeks roll by.
So I thought I should write a terse letter to the Indonesia President, Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono highlighting the frustration of our PM - and all of us here in 'the land down-under' - over the ongoing boat people issue. It will read something like this:
Dear Mr President
This asylum seeker problem is such a major issue for us and you just don’t seem to appreciate that. It’s even interfering with our Christmas plans, and distracting us from the enjoyment we would otherwise experience by belting the daylights out of the Poms in cricket.
We all need to start planning our Bali holidays with the kids, including spending some time getting drunk and swimming at Kuta Beach. Can’t do that here in Oz; the sharks are eating us.
So could you, as leader of a big country such as Indonesia, simply ‘cut us some slack’ and help us fix this asylum seeker issue so we can get on with all our other challenges facing our nation?
With respect Mr President, you seemed so focused on your internal problems that we don’t get a look in.
OK, so you have several million of your own citizens caught-up in human trafficking, and you have hundreds of Chinese and Filipino boats poaching fish stocks from villages on the north coast of Java. And we know that you currently have 110 million of your people living on $2.00 per day and you worry about terrorism, erupting volcanoes, and maintaining a vibrant democracy. But please remember: we have problems too!
So Mr President, we ask you to understand why our PM is getting frustrated with you and your country, and given that he did fly-up to see you for one day when he was first elected, and told you that we Aussies want, “More Jakarta and less Geneva”, perhaps you should now help us by re-instating the help we need to stop these boats?
And if you could just take the ones that have already made it to Christmas Island, back to your country that would be beaut.
With kindest regards