THE new agreement with Indonesia to be signed in Bali today by foreign ministers Julie Bishop and Marty Natalegawa will elevate intelligence co-operation between the two nations to a new level.
The formal purpose of the agreement — titled a Joint Understanding of a Code of Conduct — is to end the period of disagreement and partially suspended co-operation resulting from revelations by former US security contractor Edward Snowden, that in 2009 the Australian Signals Directorate had monitored the phone conversations of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior associates.
But the agreement, negotiated by Ms Bishop and Dr Natalegawa, will be a formal annex to the Lombok Treaty on security and will provide for greatly enhanced intelligence co-operation.
The text of the short agreement reads: “We reaffirm the Lombok Treaty and we build upon the purposes of the Lombok Treaty.”
The agreement also says: “We reaffirm the purposes and principles of the United Nations” and goes on to make a similar statement of reaffirmation of the “purposes and principles of the United Nations declaration” on universal human rights.
The key sentence of the agreement states that both parties will not use their “intelligence capacities or other resources in ways that would harm the interests of the parties”.
The agreement also commits both nations to “promote intelligence co-operation”.
In support of this, it further stipulates that “the heads of intelligence agencies will meet and consult on a regular basis”.
This represents a new and explicitly top-level commitment to intelligence co-operation.
This intelligence co-operation has been driven substantially by concerns in both countries about the security threat posed by the return of Australian and Indonesian nationals who have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight on behalf of jihadist extremists.
The intelligence deal follows a historic visit to Indonesia by three Australian intelligence chiefs — David Irvine, the soon-to-retire director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation; David Warner, the recently reappointed director of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service; and Paul Taloni, the director of the Australian Signals Directorate.
This visit was followed by a reciprocal visit to Australia by the head of BIN, Indonesia’s intelligence agency, Lieutenant General Marciano Norman.
These intelligence chiefs are believed to have forged a strong working relationship with each other. ‘The Australian’ by Greg Sheridan, foreign editor