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Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore on INDONESIA has beleaguered Australia's strict warning concerning travel to the country, emphasizing it is time to lower the official advice or stop it entirely.
However Indonesia's ambassador to Australia, Primo Alui Joelianto, was cautious of the progressively sharper local debates on asylum seeker arrivals, declining to be drawn on whether Canberra's warning to ''reconsider travel'' to Indonesia sits at odds with the Government's hard work to send asylum seekers to the country.
''As neighbours our relations are up and down,'' Mr Joelianto said, ''but now our relations are the best of all time.''
He said he regularly asked the Australian Government to look again at the travel warning system, which ranks Indonesia only one step below the top level of ''do not travel''.
''If you put this travel advisory, Indonesia is punished twice. First, because we don't get any money from tourists, and, second, you create also a bad image of Indonesia,'' he said.
''If you cannot remove this advisory, at least you decrease or reduce the level. Indonesia is put in the same level as Afghanistan.'' Indonesia is in fact ranked one level below Afghanistan.
Mr Joelianto said Indonesia was committed to work with Australia to confront people-smuggling but there were limits to Indonesia's capacity to deal with the problem. ''Our territory, it is so big and so huge, [and] it is not easy to control every point of our territory. We have more than 17,500 islands,'' he said.
He said the countries of origin - singling out Sri Lanka, Burma and Afghanistan - bore responsibility too.
Mr Joelianto said the Indonesian Government was struggling to reduce poverty levels and that building enough housing in the country of more than 230 million people was a challenge. ''So if we have to provide again housing for these asylum seekers, that creates problems for us,'' he said.
Mr Joelianto had been in Melbourne for his first visit ever since taking up his post in February and agreeing with this weekend's Indonesian cultural festival at Federation Square.