Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday defended as “reasonable” his country’s spying activities as he rejected Indonesia’s demand for an apology over the alleged snooping on its President that has triggered diplomatic tension between the two nations.
Speaking in the Parliament,Abbott said,Australia should not be expected to apologise for the “steps we take to protect our country”.
Describing the surveillance as “reasonable”,he said,”I don’t believe that Australia should be expected to apologise for reasonable intelligence gathering operations,just as I don’t expect other countries or other Governments to apologise for their reasonable intelligence gathering operations”.
He also asked for “cool heads” to prevail in the latest diplomatic feud with Indonesia giving a deadline of two days to respond to wire tapping charges.
According to documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden,Australian intelligence agencies have reportedly spied on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,his wife and his close aides,prompting an angry Jakarta to recall its Ambassador and order a review of bilateral ties.
Abbott repeated his statement that “every government gathers information”.
He said that every government “knows that ever other government gathers information”.
“Importantly,in Australia’s case,we use all our resources,including information to help our friends and allies not to harm them,” he said.
“Similarly,Madam Speaker,Australia shouldn’t be expected to detail what we do to protect our country any more than other governments should be expected to detail what they do to protect theirs.
Others should ask of us no more than they are prepared to do themselves,” the Prime Minister said.
He further said that Australia has “deep respect” for its near neighbour.
“It is the most important single relationship that we have” he said adding “Indeed,as one of the very best friends that we have anywhere in the world”.
“That’s why,Madam Speaker,I sincerely regret any embarrassment that recent media reports have caused him (The Indonesian President),” he said.
“But,Madam Speaker,it is in everyone’s interests,Indonesia’s no less than Australia’s,that cool heads prevail and that our relationship growing closer,not more distant,” Abbott added.