Kevin Rudd Set to Give C-130H and Boats to Indonesia

on Tuesday, July 2, 2013

01 Juli 2013

RAAF C-130H Hercules (photo : Jubes474)

Kevin Rudd set to give planes and boats to Indonesia in visit this week

Kevin Rudd will take a kitbag of goodies to Indonesia this week as he seeks more help from that county to curb the boat flow.

The secondhand C-130 Hercules planes that Indonesia was going to buy at “mates rates” will now be a gift, and there will be patrol boats (customs not naval) thrown in. There could also be developmental aid.

The whole package could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The decision to make a gift of the planes and provide the boats was taken before last week’s leadership change, in preparation for Julia Gillard making this trip.

Rudd will be in Jakarta and Bogor on Thursday and Friday for the third Indonesia-Australia Leaders' Meeting. The discussions will be broad but being seen to be able to do something to combat the boat inflow is vital as Rudd moves towards the election.

The patrol boats will assist with border protection but the free gift of the C-130s, which are transport planes, is about putting the Indonesians in a mood to be helpful generally on the border issue.

The trip plays to Rudd’s strengths. He’s naturally at home on the foreign stage and has a good relationship with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Gillard’s experience with Indonesia was mixed. The suspension of the live cattle trade caused great tension in the relationship. Rudd, foreign minister at the time, distanced himself by letting it be known he hadn’t been consulted; he later got involved in negotiations to sort things out. On the other hand, the regular leadership dialogue with Indonesia started (in late 2011) under Gillard.

While Rudd will be striving to come out of these talks with an impression that he has momentum in tackling people smuggling, previous experience indicates what’s said doesn’t always match what’s done on the issue.

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