Abbott refuses to offer phone tap details to Indonesia

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has ignored an ultimatum from Indonesia to explain the government's role in phone tapping President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

His comments follow reports on Monday that Australian intelligence agencies were involved in monitoring phone calls to and from President Yudhoyono's mobile phone.

Those reports also identified a raft of his inner circle, including his wife, as having their phone calls monitored by Australian intelligence.

President Yudhoyono used Twitter earlier to demand an apology from Mr Abbott for the monitoring, giving the government two days to apologise.

In a statement to parliament on Tuesday, Mr Abbott said Australia should not be expected to apologise for actions to "protect our country now or in the past".

He said similarly, Australia did not expect other countries to explain or apologise for their own security monitoring.
"Others should ask of us no more than they are prepared to do themselves," he told parliament.

Mr Abbott also said he would not criticise the previous government's approach to commenting on national security issues, saying the same approach to not commenting would be taken by his government,.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the issue should be "above party politics", but that he believed an apology should be in order, to help "repair our relationship" with Indonesia.

"The days ahead remain of the utmost importance - we should not allow this matter to fester for long at all," Mr Shorten said.

The comments followed Indonesia's Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema leaving Canberra on Tuesday morning due to the fallout from reports about the alleged phone tapping.

He told reporters at Canberra Airport that "a good explanation" from the Australian Government would help ease growing diplomatic tensions between the two nations.