TONY Abbott has said that, if he becomes prime minister, he would run important policies past the government of Indonesia before announcing them, as part of his ''no surprises'' policy.
But neither he nor foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop would comment on the ''tow back the boats'' policy, which is disliked in Jakarta, saying such discussions would take place in private.
Speaking on the second day of his first tour to Jakarta as Opposition Leader, Mr Abbott said Australian governments were often ''tempted to make announcements for domestic effect and not workshop those properly beforehand with the Indonesian government''. This would not happen under a Coalition government he said, which would have a ''strong and close'' relationship with Indonesia.
Australia needed to be ''less conscious of the impact of our decision-making on tomorrow's domestic headlines, and more conscious of our impact of our decision-making on sentiment here in Jakarta,'' he said.
Quizzed about the tow back the boats policy, decried in Indonesia as impossible, dangerous and a threat to its sovereignty, Mr Abbott said the discussions would remain behind closed doors.
According to Mr Abbott: ''We will stop the boats, but we'll do it by working in the closest possible harmony with Indonesia''.
Mr Abbott wants to form relationships with Indonesia as strong as those former Liberal prime minister, John Howard enjoyed.
But there were surprises under the former government, not least John Howard's comment, later denied, that he wanted Australia to be US president George Bush's ''deputy sheriff'' in the region; and the suggestion Indonesia hold a referendum for self-determination in East Timor.