Indonesian Travel Message ‘Not Contradictory’

Indon travel message 'not contradictory'

Adam Gartrell
Sydney Morning Herald
March 3, 2009

The federal government says a new visa scheme that encourages young Australians to visit Indonesia does not contradict its official travel warning that advises people to stay away because of a terrorism risk.

In Jakarta on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Chris Evans and Indonesian government minister Andi Mattalatta signed a memorandum of understanding to introduce a new reciprocal work and holiday visa scheme.

Under the scheme, university-educated Australians aged between 18 and 30 would be allowed to work and holiday in Indonesia for up to 12 months, and vice versa, without the usual sponsorship requirements.

Senator Evans said the visa system would allow young people from the two countries to experience the lifestyle and culture of the other.

But the scheme is being set up even though the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) travel warning reads: “We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack.”

Senator Evans insisted there was no contradiction.

“I think what we're saying is we can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he told reporters.

“The advice is important, but people then make their own decisions.

“And all those Australians and Indonesians who participate in this scheme will obviously have that advice available to them.”

Senator Evans said he expected Australians who participated in the scheme to take the appropriate precautions.

He insisted the travel warning was appropriate, but acknowledged it irritated Indonesia, which believes the warning is too harsh.

Mr Mattalatta said the travel warning was “an internal matter” for Australia.