Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says Prime Minister Julia Gillard should not be "swanning" around in New York "talking to Africans", rather she should be in Jakarta talking to the Indonesian head of state about border security - despite the fact President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono arrived in New York for the United Nations summit yesterday.
Mr Abbott on radio 2GB this morning was again critical of asylum seekers and border protection, saying it was a continued failure of by Labor, adding that the government must embrace temporary protection visas and turning boats around.
"But the really important thing is that right now our Prime Minister is in New York spruiking for this Security Council bid. She should be in Jakarta, not in New York, because that is where Australia's national interest is most at stake right now," he told 2GB.
"Rather than talking to African countries, trying to drum up the numbers to get us a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, she should be in Jakarta talking to President Yudhoyono about how we can co-operate better with the Indonesians to stop this flow which is putting our border protection hopelessly under the pump."
Mr Abbott said improving relationships with Indonesia should be a priority.
"That's why our Prime Minister shouldn't be swanning around in New York talking to Africans, she should be in Jakarta right now trying to sort out border protection disaster."
Mr Abbott was rebuked by the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan.
"This is yet another example of reckless negativity from the Leader of the Opposition, in complete defiance of the facts and commonsense," Mr Swan told reporters in Canberra.
"Mr Abbott ought to retract his statements immediately. He ought to apologise for them."
The Jakarta Post reports that Mr Yudhoyono, the first lady Ani Yudhoyono and other Indonesian delegates had touched down at JFK Airport in New York on Sunday at 8.30am (10.30pm Sunday, Sydney time).
Both leaders are in New York for the annual four-day assembly of the UN. Ms Gillard will focus heavily on African nations as she leads a final concerted push for Australia to win one of 10 non-permanent seat on the Security Council for 2013 and 2014.
The National Times understands Ms Gillard and Mr Yudhoyono have no formal bilateral meetings scheduled but are attending and speaking at an event on Wednesday.
The vote of the 193 UN members will be on October 18 and 128 votes are needed.
Mr Abbott also said the Prime Minister should have demoted the Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, for his handling of the Indonesian live export crisis last year, to show the Indonesians that it was sorry for the affair.
He said the reason Senator Ludwig had survived was because he was a key factional player in the Labor Party.