Doorstop interview, Canberra
Topics: Indonesia; Nats leadership
Reporter: In terms of moving the Australian Embassy from Jerusalem. How will that impact trade deals and TPP?
Simon Birmingham: Well it shouldn’t have any effect or bearing in that regard. We’ve seen very positive comments from, for example, Indonesia’s Resources Minister, Indonesia’s Trade Minister. The discussions are on track to finalise and sign our agreement with Indonesia later this year. Equally, I think whether it’s Indonesia or any other nation of the world, we all operate our own sovereign, independent foreign policies. Australia is able to have its position on matters such as Israel. Indonesia can have their position. That won’t impact our bilateral relationship and capacity to be able to continue to work together on economic matters as well as a range of other important issues.
Reporter: Those text messages between Marise Payne and Indonesia. They don’t look like Indonesia was thrilled.
Simon Birmingham: Well Marise Payne had discussions with the Indonesian Foreign Minister. Those discussions were constructive, they were positive, and subsequent to that we have seen very positive public statements from Indonesia’s Trade Minister, the Resources Minister, and I thank them for that.
Reporter: Do you think those text messages were positive though?
Simon Birmingham: I think the discussions that Marise had with her counterpart in Indonesia were constructive discussions and the public statements that we have subsequently seen are a demonstration of the fact that, whilst disagreeing with Australia’s position, Indonesia recognises that we are both sovereign countries who are perfectly capable of having our own independent foreign policy whilst still getting on together and having a successful bilateral relationship.
Reporter: What do you make of the unrest in the National’s? How would you describe this push for a leadership change?
Simon Birmingham: Well I think the media speculation is as ridiculous as the idea of it is. Michael McCormack has in a very short period of time made a great contribution and impact in terms of the work he’s done in highlighting the issues surrounding the drought. There’s been no greater champion for drought affected communities in Australia than Michael McCormack, and I’m proud to work alongside of him as the National’s leader and as the Deputy Prime Minister.
Reporter: Barnaby Joyce obviously doesn’t think that they’re ridiculous though. This speculation. He doesn’t seem to think it’s ridiculous at all.
Simon Birmingham: Well on that we disagree. Thanks.