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  • Apr 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:23am
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DIPLOMACY

Abbott adviser's 'porn star' jibe at Indonesian minister stokes spying row

Close ally of Australian premier apologises for insulting Twitter remark about Indonesian minister as anger grows in Jakarta over spying claims

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 9:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 November, 2013, 8:42am

A strategist for Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Liberal Party apologised yesterday after describing a person widely reported to be the Indonesian foreign minister as resembling "a 1970s Filipino porn star".

Mark Textor made the derogatory comment on Twitter as ties between Canberra and Jakarta plunged to their lowest point in years amid a spying row.

Frankly, I was quite shocked. They're highly inappropriate comments
Tanya Plibersek, Labor Party

"Apology demanded from Australia by a bloke who looks like a 1970's Pilipino (sic) porn star and has ethics to match," said the tweet, which has since been deleted.

Reports said he was referring to Marty Natalegawa, who called for Canberra to say "sorry" after documents leaked by US intelligence fugitive Edward Snowden showed Australia tried to listen to the phone calls of the Indonesian president, his wife and ministers in 2009.

The anger over the alleged spying yesterday spilled over to the public in Jakarta, where demonstrators wearing military-style uniforms protested outside the Australian embassy, pumping their fists in the air and waving the Indonesian flag.

"We're ready for war with Australia," read one of the banners waved by the crowd of about 100 demonstrators, who used red spray paint to daub graffiti on the Australian mission.

Although Textor apologised for his comment, he said he was not referring to "anyone in particular" when questioned by the media at Parliament House in Canberra. "Apologies to my Indonesian friends - frustrated by media-driven divisions - Twitter is indeed no place for diplomacy," he later tweeted, adding: "Conduct unbecoming."

Textor touts himself as being in Abbott's "inner circle", broadcaster ABC said, and his market research firm Crosby Textor has been associated with the Liberal Party for many years.

Labor opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said his comment would do nothing to repair relations with Jakarta and called on Abbott to distance himself from Textor.

"Frankly, I was quite shocked. They're highly inappropriate comments," she said.

"The prime minister must disassociate himself, the Liberal Party and the Australian government from them immediately and unequivocally."

Abbott, addressing parliament, said: "They were tacky comments and they've been withdrawn and apologised for."

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser also weighed in, demanding on Twitter that Textor be sacked immediately, while Greens leader Christine Milne called the remarks appalling.

She said: "This sort of tweet will be seen as just further inflaming the situation, particularly because of the close relationship between Mark Textor and the prime minister and the Liberal Party in general."

On Wednesday, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono suspended co-operation with Australia in the sensitive area of people-smuggling in retaliation to the spying claims.

He also announced that co-operation would be temporarily halted in several other areas, including military exercises and intelligence exchanges.

Abbott said he had received a letter from Yudhoyono demanding an explanation of Australia's phone tapping activity in 2009.

"I want to assure the House that the government will respond swiftly, fully and courteously to the president's letter," he said.

"As always, my intention is to do everything I reasonably can to strengthen the relationship which is so important to both our countries."

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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SomeOneHasUsurpedMyName
Arrogant racist!
chanaa
they live in a bubble aussies. Indonesia should just invade them & get itover with

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