Jakarta. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to defend Australia’s relationship with Indonesia after comments from Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce Wednesday night (25/05) sparked concerns over a fresh row between the neighbors.
Speaking during a live debate ahead of July’s federal election, Joyce linked a 2011 ban on live exports to Indonesia to an increase in boats arriving in Australia, suggesting retaliation from Jakarta after creating "bad will."
Responding to requests for clarification, Turnbull reiterated the friendly nature between the two countries.
“We have a good relationship with [Indonesia]. I think President Jokowi is a great leaders, he’s in fact an inspirational leader,” Turnbull said Thursday, as reported by ABC.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called the remarks “really, really ignorant” and suggested Joyce “leave foreign policy to the grown-ups in the room.”
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra denied claims of a link.
“The Indonesian government does not see any link between Australia’s live cattle ban and the influx of boats coming into Australia. Indonesia was, and remains, committed to being a part of the regional solution to this common challenge of people smuggling,” Sade Bimantara, spokesman for the embassy, said in a statement sent to the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.
Joyce’s office is yet to respond to a request for comment.