SBY’s visit – the bigger picture

Parliament house flag post

SBY’s visit – the bigger picture

Posted 5/07/2012 by Cameron Hill

Indonesian coat of arms
At the second Indonesia-Australia Leaders’ Meeting in Darwin on 3 July, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono re-affirmed the two countries’ ‘comprehensive strategic partnership, based on a mutual commitment to each other’s progress, prosperity and security’. The
Joint Statement agreed by the two leaders highlights cooperation across a range of issues, including regional institutional architecture, trade, defence and maritime cooperation, policing, development assistance, and people-to-people links.

Despite the language of ‘partnership’, much of the public commentary in Australia concerning Indonesia remains focused on specific irritants (people smuggling, live cattle, consular cases) or about how to best ‘manage’ the day-to-day relationship. Both sides of politics remain keen to demonstrate their respective Indonesia credentials; the Government says the relationship ‘has never been stronger’, while the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has promised a ‘cultural shift’ in Australia’s approach ‘because in some respects Indonesia is our most important relationship’.

This discussion, however, often omits the important changes taking place within Indonesia itself. In this environment, it is worth stepping back to reflect on some of the broader aspects of Indonesia’s polity, economy and society. At a recent address to an Asialink forum, Australia’s current Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Greg Moriarty, highlighted ‘ten things worth knowing about Indonesia’:

1. Indonesia does not owe the International Monetary Fund (IMF) anything

2. Indonesia’s own budget for national development and infrastructure is 200 times the value of Australia’s bilateral development assistance (estimated at $510 million in 2012–13)

3. Foreign Direct Investment in Indonesia grew by 30 per cent to reach US$5.6 billion in the first three months of 2012

4. Indonesia’s economy was one of only three Asian economies that grew above 6 per cent in 2011

5. Indonesia is on track to achieve universal primary education by 2015

6. dozens of political parties are flourishing in a robust democratic contest and the 2014 Presidential elections are ‘wide open’

7. Indonesia’s middle class is larger than Australia’s entire population

8. Indonesia is the world’s third largest user of Facebook and the world’s fourth largest ‘Twitter-sphere’

9. by 2025, Indonesia will have more young people as a proportion of its workforce than most other Asian countries

10. one of Indonesia’s top-rating television programs is Junior Masterchef Australia

According to Hugh White at the Lowy Institute, the key implication of these kinds of changes is that we need to start rethinking policy settings in order to adjust to an Indonesia that will very likely, over the next few decades, become richer and stronger than Australia.

Masterchef aside, Ambassador Moriarty’s point about the national elections is arguably the most important in terms of the future of Australia-Indonesia relations over the medium-term. The leaders of both countries will face the polls over the next two years. In 2014, SBY will exit and a new, potentially unfamiliar, President will be elected. Speculation about potential candidates and the results of early polling are now regular talking points in Indonesia’s media. Indeed, one of the most prominent candidates, Aburizal Bakrie, recently visited Australia.

Whoever wins the next Australian federal election will, in 2015, be meeting with a new Indonesian leader; one whose priorities and preferences will, in this era of ‘partnership’, have as much bearing on the tone and substance of relations as our own. Understanding the long-term changes taking place within Indonesian society, and their implications, will offer the best prospect for us to anticipate what these priorities might be and what they might entail for the bilateral relationship in the ‘Asian Century’. What is assured is that election watching will become a major preoccupation for both countries over the next couple of years.

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




refugees asylum immigration Australian foreign policy Parliament climate change elections women social security Indigenous Australians Australian Bureau of Statistics Employment Sport illicit drugs people trafficking taxation Medicare welfare reform Australian Defence Force higher education welfare policy United Nations health financing Asia income management Middle East criminal law disability Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget gambling school education forced labour aid statistics Australian Electoral Commission WADA emissions trading dental health Australia in the Asian Century steroids detention Private health insurance OECD ASADA labour force transport Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Industrial Relations people smuggling National Disability Insurance Scheme Australian Crime Commission slavery Senate election results Papua New Guinea Australian Public Service constitution International Women's Day corruption Afghanistan Fair Work Act child protection debt federal election 2013 parliamentary procedure poker machines ALP New Zealand Newstart Parenting Payment 43rd Parliament political parties Census High Court skilled migration voting Federal Court terrorist groups Higher Education Loan Program HECS youth paid parental leave Aviation environment foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability customs doping health crime health risks multiculturalism aged care Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery sea farers Special Rapporteur leadership United Kingdom UK Parliament Electoral reform politics banking firearms public policy violence against women domestic violence mental health China ADRV terrorism social media pensions welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation governance public service reform Carbon Pricing Mechanism carbon tax mining military history employer employee fishing by-election European Union same sex relationships international relations coal seam gas family assistance planning United Nations Security Council Australian economy food vocational education and training Drugs health reform Indonesia children codes of conduct terrorist financing health system money laundering asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Population Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity science research and development Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse federal state relations World Trade Organization Australia accountability housing affordability bulk billing water renewable energy children's health health policy Governor-General US economy export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation expertise Senators and Members climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry food labelling Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government local government consumer laws PISA royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition Parliamentary remuneration Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol energy forced marriage rural and regional Northern Territory Emergency Response ministries social citizenship human rights High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories workers Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery transparency corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation standards NATO Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly public health smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine regional unemployment asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency productivity human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies trade unions same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders public housing prime ministers election timetable sitting days First speech defence budget submarines Somalia GDP forestry world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission regulation limitation period universities Ireland cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders animal health live exports welfare systems infant mortality middle class welfare honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Constitutional reform referendum Rent Assistance competition policy pharmaceutical benefits scheme obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant homelessness regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Youth Allowance Members suspension citizen engagement policymaking federal election 2010 workplace health and safety Trafficking in Persons Report marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament alcohol Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act entitlements political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing Hung Parliament political education social inclusion Social Inclusion Board maritime early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin Iran sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits

Show all
Show less
Back to top