Australian PM Decides Against Visit to Indonesia

2 May 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has decided not to visit Indonesia for a visit intended to sooth bilateral tensions that also might have led to cementing Australia’s tenuous membership in the Open Government Partnership.

The resolution of the OGP membership question was not clear in the wake of the trip’s cancellation May 2.

The Australian government previously was reported to be “reconsidering” the previous administration’s pledge to join the Open Government Partnership, on which the Abbott government had not acted. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The odds for a renewed Australian commitment were seen as improving, however, after Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono invited Abbott to attend the OGP regional meeting being held in Bali May 6-7. Indonesia is the led chair of the OGP.

Abbott determined not to go, however, after an Australian patrol boat intercepted a boatload of asylum seekers traveling from Java and Australia.

“Such turnbacks have been greeted with anger in the Indonesian media and that raised concerns in Canberra that Mr Abbott’s arrival would embarrass Dr Yudhoyono and wipe out any benefits to either country from the meeting,” explained The Australian. Also see report in The Sydney Herald.

Australia is sending a representative to the OGP regional meeting May 6-7 in Bali, FreedomInfo.org has learned: Chief Technology Officer  John Sheridan.

Yudhoyono will give a speech May 6 opening the OGP conference that is expected to attendance of about 500 representatives from the governments, civil society groups, nongovernmental organizations and private sector stakeholders. The Jakarta Post reported that the only head of state confirmed was Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

In advance of the conference, the OGP Steering Committee is meeting for two days to discuss a wide array of issues, including possible sanctions for members who act in ways contrary to OGP principles. (See previous FreeedomInfo.org report.)

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