Aust. Opposition says focus on Jakarta, not Geneva

Aust. Opposition says focus on Jakarta, not Geneva

Aust. Opposition says focus on Jakarta, not Geneva

Updated 6 February 2012, 15:12 AEDT

The Australian Opposition says if it wins the next election, its foreign policy would focus on the country's close neighbours.

Last week, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said his government would have "a Jakarta focus to its foreign policy, not a Geneva focus.''

Speaking to Jim Middleton on Asia Pacific Focus, the Opposition's Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop said this means prioritising Australia's relations with immediate neighbours.

"A great deal of damage has been done to our bilateral relations with our neighbours and one of my first tasks as the foreign minister would be to repair those relationships," she said.

She says the current Australian Government's treatment of Indonesia, in some instances, is "appalling".

"For example, its announcement of the ban on the live cattle trade to Indonesia, without giving Indonesia any notice, caused enormous disruption and turmoil and concern in Indonesia."

Ms Bishop also said, that given the recent political instability and natural disaster there, a focus on Papua New Guinea should be a high priority.

She also made it clear that if the Opposition comes to power, it will maintain is policy on asylum-seekers.

"And that is, we would retain offshore processing on Nauru, that we would turn back boats where it was safe to do so, and that we would introduce temporary protection visas," she said.

"That's been our policy for the 2007 election, the 2010 election, and again for the next election."