HAMISH MCDONALD July 28, 2012
Caution ... Bob Carr.
THE Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, has cautioned the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, against narrowing relations with Indonesia down to ''transactional issues'' such as people smuggling.
Without mentioning Mr Abbott by name, he also warned that talk of Australia being part of an ''Anglosphere'' - a favourite theme of Mr Abbott - was too risky and could undermine decades of diplomacy.
Senator Carr used a speech to the Lowy Institute in Sydney yesterday to chide Mr Abbott for being out of touch with the wider cultural settings of Australia's expanding national interests.
In a speech in Beijing last week, Mr Abbott put a new twist on stressing the shared heritage with English-speaking democracies by saying it was this aspect of Australia that had great attraction for migrants from other parts of the world.
Mr Abbott has also said Jakarta would be the first capital he would visit if elected prime minister and relations with Indonesia would be strengthened to the point where its government would accept the turning back of asylum seeker boats heading to Australia.
But the Foreign Minister suggested Mr Abbott was taking too narrow a view of the relationship to solve short-term problems. ''We've got to avoid the trap that Tony's falling into, of using the relationship for these transactional issues,'' Senator Carr said.
He praised the advice of the former foreign affairs department head Richard Woolcott that Canberra should get into the habit of consulting Indonesia in the same way it consulted the US.
''We're responsible … for getting it wrong on live cattle exports,'' he said. ''We've got to get the relationship understood on both sides as being more than about these three transactional issues - Australians in trouble on drugs, live cattle exports and people smuggling.''
Senator Carr saw ''great danger'' in the attraction of talk about the Anglosphere. '' ''I'd just caution Australians that nod too vigorously in the direction of that concept, we'd be misinterpreted immediately in the nations to our north.
''This is the danger we got into in the first year of the Howard government with Pauline Hanson running wild and when we tripped up in some key elements in our relationship with China.''