A revolt by his own backbenchers
threatens to disrupt Prime Minister John Howard’s plan to restore friendly
relations with Indonesia. Mr Howard is planning to visit
Indonesia for talks
with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono later this month.

Before the meeting takes place the
Australian Parliament is scheduled to vote on changes to immigration law
designed to avoid further Papuan refugees from Indonesia settling
here. There is a real chance that Mr Howard’s law will not be
passed.

I wrote yesterday of the disquiet
among “small l” liberals in the House of Representatives. I am now aware of
several Coalition senators contemplating a vote against the
legislation.

A parliamentary defeat would be very
embarrassing for Mr Howard. The promised change to Australia’s
immigration law was designed specifically to appease the Indonesian
President.

Peter Fray

A lot can happen in 3 months.

3 months is a long time in 2020. Join us to make sense of it all.

Get you first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12. Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12