Barnett fears damage to WA's export trade

Angela Pownall and Phoebe WearneThe West Australian

Colin Barnett has raised fears that the diplomatic crisis will damage WA's export trade with Indonesia.

The Premier yesterday described Australia's tapping of the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Kristiani Herawati as "personally offensive".

He said Prime Minister Tony Abbott needed to explain to Indonesia why Australian spies were listening to their personal phone calls in 2009 but did not call on him to apologise.

"I do have some concern, particularly agricultural exports, cattle, beef, and particularly wheat exports - Indonesia is a major market," Mr Barnett said.

"As far as Western Australia is concerned, we will leave the foreign affairs issues to the national Government but we will work hard to make sure we continue our strong trade relationship with Indonesia."

WA-based Indonesia Institute president Ross Taylor said the revelation Australia had tapped the phones of government figures had infuriated the Indonesians.

"Remember Indonesia has been occupied by foreigners for 300 years," he said. "If you really want to upset an Indonesian, you don't talk about asylum seekers, they don't care about that. If you really want to upset an Indonesian, you say something that impacts on their sovereignty."

The Department of Foreign Affairs has updated travel advice for Indonesia, warning visitors to avoid protests, such as yesterday's violent demonstration outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

About 6000 Australian school leavers are expected to arrive in Bali today and tomorrow for end-of-school celebrations.

Paul Mergard, from leavers support group Red Frogs, said from Bali yesterday the unrest over the phone-tapping scandal did not appear to have spread to the holiday island.

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