Spying scandal: Australia to gift Hercules aircraft to Indonesia despite cooperation
Updated 29 November 2013, 0:51 AEST
The Defence Minister says Australia's handover of an old C-130 Hercules to Indonesia will go ahead, despite cooperation being suspended between the two countries.
Defence Minister David Johnston says Australia's handover of an old C-130 Hercules to Indonesia will go ahead, despite cooperation being suspended between the two countries.
The aircraft flew over Darwin this afternoon and has had its Australian markings removed.
The Hercules has been repainted with flags and symbols of the TNI - the Indonesian military.
Australia originally intended to hand over the plane to the Indonesians at a ceremony this week at Williamtown in New South Wales.
That ceremony had been postponed in light of revelations that Australia attempted to spy on Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior ministers in 2009.
A spokesman for Senator Johnston says the C-130 handover will still go ahead.
He would not comment on whether another date had been set for the ceremony or if the aircraft is on its way to Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's foreign minister says he has spoken to his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop about meeting to discuss rebuilding the two countries' relations.
Today Marty Natalegawa appeared before an Indonesian parliamentary commission that deals with foreign affairs.
Commission members want more details about a letter Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrote to the president vowing to never hurt Indonesia or the relationship again.
Dr Natalegawa says he is already looking to begin discussions.
"I've been already in touch with Minister Bishop to discuss about the first step, namely for the two of us to get together," he said.
He says a meeting is needed before protocols for future relations can be developed.
Indonesia signals long wait before cooperation restored
Indonesia says it will not restart cooperation on things like people smuggling until a new agreement is signed.
Indonesia correspondent George Roberts told Lateline it is more likely to be months than weeks before cooperation is restored.
"Marty Natalegawa says that he's been in the job long enough to know that it's not wise to set a timeframe or a deadline for these kind of negotiations," Roberts said.
"What he did say though is there are many steps to go and at the moment Australia and Indonesia are really only at step one out of the six that the president outlined that needed to be ticked off before Indonesia will be happy to start cooperation again with Australia.
"Some members of the Foreign Affairs Commission walked away from today's closed session, saying that they think it could be years because of the depth of disappointment with Australia's response and also the news of the spying.
"Marty Natalegawa said journalists should be able to work out from what he said how long it would take. If you look at the most recent agreement they tried to strike in September, 2012, that should have been finalised by January, 2013, to allow boats and planes to come into Indonesian space to help out with rescues.
"It's November, nearly December, that still hasn't been finalised - so more than a year. And other people are pointing to the next bilateral meeting between the president and the Prime Minister isn't until late 2014.
"So that doesn't really look like anything's going to be resolved any time soon, but again, the Foreign Minister says it's up to Australia just how quickly this can be done."