The Australia - Indonesia Working Group

The Australia - Indonesia Working Group

the australia - Indonesia Working Group

The Perth USAsia Centre’s Working Group on Australia - Indonesia Relations is a track two initiative convened to address the imperative for Australia to pursue better relations across a broad range of issues with its closest Asian neighbour. The group consists of Indonesia scholars, defence and foreign policy thought leaders, and business and civil society leaders with expertise and deep interest in Indonesia. The initiative aims to constructively contribute to the public policy process to enable Australia and Indonesia to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities that exist. To this end, and leveraging Perth’s proximity to Jakarta and the community of Indonesia expertise located here, the working group will develop and commission a range of programs and research initiatives to improve Australia - Indonesia relations.

On July and October 2017, the Perth USAsia Centre hosted a track two dialogue in Perth and Darwin with the Australia - Indonesia Working Group drawing upon Australian and Indonesian leaders that are deeply engaged with the bilateral relationship from business to academia.

The track two dialogues in Perth and Darwin focused on the economic and security relationship respectively and included keynote addresses from distinguished guests such as:
  • His Excellency Professor Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Former President of the Republic of Indonesia
  • Dr Marty Natalegawa, Former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia 
  • Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, Former Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia
  • Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia to Perth, Mr Ade Padmo Sarwono
  • Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia to Darwin, Mr Andre Omer Siregar
Following the Australia - Indonesia Working Group discussions, policy recommendation reports highlighting the discussion and recommendations derived from the working group were produced by the Perth USAsia Centre. You can read more here:


 The Power of Proximity: Enhancing Australia - Indonesia Economic Relations 


This working group discussion was held in Perth and looked ahead to 2050 and examined ways Australia and Indonesia could cooperate in the economic realm.

The discussion was guided by the following questions:
  1. What are the basic assumptions about Indonesia's trajectory?
  2. What should Australia focus on with its economic engagement with Indonesia?
  3. How do we encourage Indonesia and Australia to view each other as strategic partners?
  4. What does an ideal trade and investment with Indonesia look like?
Download


Joined at the Fulcrum: Enhancing Australia - Indonesia Security Relations 

This working group discussion was held in Darwin and asked participants to consider the changing security environment in the Indo-Pacific and explore ways in which Australia and Indonesia could cooperate to achieve joint security goals.

The discussion was guided by the following questions:
  1. What traditional and non-traditional security challenges are emerging in our region?
  2. How is the regional security architercture - and patterns of leadership within in - changing in the Indo-Pacific?
  3. How can Australia and Indonesia combine their maritime and diplomatic capabilities to address shared security challenges?
  4. Who are our key partners for developing strategic and security dialogues, and how should these be designed?
Download

Four fundamental challenges to improving Australia - Indonesia relations

Current levels of engagement, exchange, and understanding across a broad range of sectors are insufficient to meet current and future needs of the relationship, despite the multitude of opportunities available

This is true across all sectors: business, government, education, sports, defence, civil society, youth, and media. Part of this problem is that the movement of people is restrictive and therefore the exchange of ideas and culture is inhibited by visa and immigration policies on both sides. Negative stereotypes are not countered by the media on both sides, whose focus on the other can be shallow and miss each other’s complexity.

Business-to-Business ties remain underdeveloped. Existing free trade agreements like ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) remain underutilised

Australia and Indonesia have complementary economies with potential for two-way trade and investment and collaboration in value chains. However, business is not leading demand for Indonesian expertise and language skills in Australia. Schools and tertiary education respond to the demands of business as we have seen with the popularity of Mandarin and Japanese language teaching in schools. Australian businesses lack a view of Indonesia as a “strategic” future opportunity whereas South Korea and Japan see Indonesia so. Indonesian business delegations don’t visit Australia regularly and vice-versa.

There have been unsuccessful attempts by the political leadership in both countries to articulate an enduring, bipartisan vision for the relationship particularly given the opportunities

The rise of the “Indo-Pacific” concept in foreign policy thinking offers opportunities for Australia and Indonesia to cooperate on a number of regional issues in which both countries share an interest. Australian strategic policy has often overlooked Indonesia and other ASEAN countries as partners and placed stronger geopolitical importance on countries in Northeast Asia like China, Japan, and South Korea. Australian leaders must craft a bipartisan, long-term, and institutionalised vision and commitment to sustained engagement with Indonesia.

Current relations are too narrowly focussed on the Canberra - Jakarta axis and don't adequately reflect geographic, economic and civil society diversity

Other Australian cities like Perth and Darwin are natural gateways with established and diverse relationships to the region and should leverage their proximity to Indonesia. Outside of Jakarta, cities like Denpasar, Makassar, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and others are growing in importance as Indonesia becomes less centralised and should be recognized as centres of important cultural, intellectual, and business development. Sister city and state relationships provide opportunities for engagement. Australian aid resources and trade and investment promotion efforts should be directed with more geographic diversity throughout the archipelago.
  • The inaugural Australia - Indonesia Working Group at The University of Western Australia in 2015.
  • The inaugural Australia - Indonesia Working Group at The University of Western Australia in 2015.
  • Professor L. Gordon Flake, CEO of Perth USAsia Centre with His Excellency Professor Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Former President of the Republic of Indonesia at The University of Western Australia in 2015.
  • The Australia - Indonesia Working Group in Perth at The University of Western Australia in July 2017.
  • The Australia - Indonesia Working Group discussions hosted at The University Club in July 2017.
  • Professor John Blaxland, Head of the Southeast Asia Institute at the Australian National University presenting at the Australia - Indonesia Working Group discussions in Perth in July 2017.
  • Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia to Perth Mr Ade Padmo Sarwono with Dr Marty Natalegawa, Former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • Dr Mari Pangestu presenting to a public audience on the Indonesian economy to 2050 in Perth in July 2017.
  • Dr Marty Natalegawa, Former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia, talking to Professor L. Gordon Flake, CEO of Perth USAsia Centre.
  • His Excellency Professor Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivering a keynote at the Australia - Indonesia Working Group in Darwin in October 2017.
  • His Excellency Professor Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivering a keynote at the Australia - Indonesia Working Group in Darwin in October 2017.