Until recently, Australia-Indonesia relations were seen as being at historic highs under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. However, after ten years in power the Indonesian constitution prevents the man known as SBY from serving another term in the top job. Australia’s diplomatic relationship with Indonesia has gone worse following the revelations about Australian spying on the President and his inner circle back in 2009. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he regretted any embarrassment the reports of spying may have caused the President, and stressed the importance of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia. On April 9, Indonesians will go to the polls, to elect Members of the National Parliament.
Griffith University’s Professor Colin Brown says SBY’s Democratic Party is unlikely to hold onto power. The PDIP is widely tipped to secure the presidency. While the asylum seekers policy featured strongly in a 2013 Federal Election, Brown says it barely rates a mention in the lead up to the Indonesian polls. Since the spying revelations in November, Australia’s relationship with Indonesia has been further pressured by the Abbott Government’s asylum seeker policy.
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Story by Thea Cowie for SBS World News Radio.